How to Get Surfing Fit For This Summer

man getting barreling in wave on short board surf board because he has good surfing fitness.

Santa Barbara is home to some of the best waves on the coast. From Rincon to Hammond’s beach, we are blessed with perfect point breaks for a south swell. But in between seasons, it’s essential to keep your surfing fitness level up for when the next big swell hits. Here are three tips on how to maintain paddle power, a quick reaction, and a strong core for turns and pop-ups.

Swim laps for paddle power surfing fitness

A strong paddle can only be perfected with experience. But rather than taking your board out on still waters, swimming laps in a pool with a pull buoy is a highly effective way to maintain strength and surfing fitness. 

While you’d think that the arms are key to paddle power, lifting weights and other target workouts are not an effective way to get paddle fit. The pull buoy focuses on your back, paddle movement, breathwork, and upper body. When swimming with the pull buoy, you aren’t using your legs, just as you would on a board. It trains your body to keep your ankles closer together, which is critical when surfing on smaller boards. Plus, the additional float that the pull buoy offers translates perfectly to your surfing. 

You’d be surprised at how much stronger your paddle can become by incorporating this swimming technique into your surf workout. If you’re looking to boost your breathwork for surfing fitness, a professional regiment is the reptile crawl and is only recommended for advanced swimmers.

Improve quickness for wave response

Possibly one of the most critical features of surfing fitness is your response speed. When a big set comes through and your placement is just right, reacting quickly is what distinguishes a good surfer from a great surfer. Not only is it important for catching waves, but it’s also a meaningful way to practice safety by being prepared to react. 

Ball tosses on a stability ball are a great way to practice reaction drills with a partner. Not only does this drill help you react to a toss, but it teaches you how to be rhythmic with stability movements. Balancing on a ball is pretty advanced, so sitting on the stability ball is the first step. Moving onto your knees is another in-between stance that focuses on the same technique.

Strengthen your core for pop-ups and turns

Having a strong core translates to how long you can stay out in the water and how quickly you can get up on your board. Watch any surf movie and a professional surfer’s time to stand is so fast you can hardly see the movement itself. Practicing an ab routine is a simple and easy way to strengthen your core and oblique muscles. Laird Hamilton, a big wave surfer from Maui, demonstrates a Jiu-Jitsu ab core training technique that promotes core strength.

To support a strong core, you want to practice engaging it in a variety of movements. This is what makes surfers have such a strong abdomen. Lunge jumps are a great way to incorporate stability, quickness, and core strength. Lunges engage your leg muscles for balance, and the jump triggers muscles when shifting weight for a bottom turn or a simple drop. 

Practicing your pop-up on dry land will make your pop-up on a board second nature. Pop-ups are the steepest part of the surfing learning curve. Practice your pop-up by laying down in a paddle position with an arched back to jumping to your feet in seconds. Focus on an object ahead of you to make your pop-up as good as the pros. Take it to the next level with a burpee and pullup bar. 

Surfing fitness for tomorrow’s swell

When the Santa Ana winds have blown out the waves or the swell isn’t making it around the Channel Islands, it’s important to keep up your surfing fitness for when that big swell does hit. Start your surfing workout with us to take it to the ocean. Practice these techniques at Santa Barbara Athletic Club to maintain surfing fitness for big swell seasons.