Getting Fit For Your Surf Trip
Below is a copy of the article I wrote for Smorgasboarder surf magazine showing my
blueprint for getting fit for your next surf trip…
If you’re planning a surf trip in the near future now is a good time to start thinking about getting your body fit for the trip. The last thing you want to do is spend all that time and money, then wind up pulling a muscle or being too fatigued to make the most of the waves on offer. So here’s the low down on how to get in shape and make the most of your surfing expedition.
How long before the trip should I start my fitness training program?
It’s best to start your training plan at least a couple of months out from your trip to make sure you have enough time to get in shape. I would recommend giving yourself 3 months training time, however you could still get some benefit with as little as 4 weeks training time.
How many workouts should I do each week?
You can get results with 2-3 workouts per week, however if you really want to make the most of it I would go for 3 functional strength workouts per week and 3 cardio workouts per week. Cardio can be done on the same day as strength, or on the off days. You can also substitute cardio training for surfing, because at the end of the day, the best way to improve your surf specific cardiovascular fitness is to surf more.
What should my workouts consist of?
You should start your workout with a good 5-10 minute warm-up which will get you ready for the workout. Instead of the traditional cardio warm-up, a smarter idea is to do bodyweight exercises that promote joint mobility, muscle activation and fundamental movement patterns. This will help prevent injury and improve your movement skills in addition to preparing your body to exercise. Bodyweight exercise like squats, lunges, push-ups, glute bridges, spiderman climbs, bird dogs and jumping jacks are a great place to start for the warm-up.
The next part of your workout should focus on functional strength exercises to build total body, multi-joint strength. Think about training movements, not muscles. To build a balanced body you should be doing exercises that include movements such as squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, and lifting as well as exercises that promote balance, core stability and rotational strength.
The most efficient way to train is to do the exercises either in a circuit or in supersets (where you do 2 or more exercises in succession with minimal rest). This allows you to work different muscle groups without having to spend as much time resting between exercises, which means a faster more efficient workout.
You don’t need access to a gym, in fact you can do a great workout at home using only a set of adjustable dumbbells and a swiss ball. For your lower body try strength exercises like dumbbell squats, split squats, lunges and single leg straight leg deadlifts. For you upper body you can do exercises like dumbbell rows, swiss ball chest press, pull-ups and dumbbell shoulder presses. Finally you need to incorporate some core and balance training using exercises like planks, swiss ball rollouts, swiss ball jack-knifes, dumbbell chops and swiss ball balancing (on your knees or half kneeling).
Cardiovascular training can be done after the strength component or on the alternate days. For cardio exercise there are a number of different options such as running, riding, skipping, boxing, rowing, etc. If you have access to a pool or are near the ocean then swimming can be of great benefit as you can improve your lung capacity and also build some endurance in your arms and shoulders which can transfer into improved paddle fitness.
If you don’t have a pool nearby you can also try band paddling to increase your paddle fitness. Do this by lying chest down on a swiss ball and paddling against the resistance of a light exercise band. This is a simple exercise you can do at home and can enhance the endurance in your arms and shoulders which is critical for a surf trip.
The best cardio workout should be interval based where you do periods of harder work, mixed with recovery periods. This has been scientifically proven to effectively improve both your anaerobic (short burst) energy system and aerobic (longer duration) energy system, which is important for surfing. For example if you were swimming you could do a lap fast or sprinting followed by a lap slower recovery, then repeat for 10-20 laps. If you were running you could do 20 seconds fast, followed by 40 seconds recovery, repeat for 10-15 minutes.
Stretching / Flexibility
The final part of your workout should consist of some good old fashioned stretching to help promote increases in flexibility and aid in muscle recovery. Try and stretch all of your major muscle groups and hold stretches only to the point of tension, not pain.
Once you have done this, that is your workout complete. A good total body workout like the one above shouldn’t take much more than an hour or so. Most of us have busy lives, so this is a good amount of time to spend exercising.
Other Surf Workout Tips
• Include some foam rolling (or self massage) before your warm-up to help improve muscle tissue quality and loosen any tight muscles.
• Change up your routine about every 4 weeks to keep things fresh and challenging.
• Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet – lots of fruits & vegetables, lean protein and wholegrains.
• Surf as much as possible before the trip.
• Ease back in your training about a week before you leave to make sure your body is fully recovered for the trip
What should I do during the surf trip?
So you have arrived at your destination and the lines are rolling in. What now? First thing is make sure you are continuing to eat healthy to make sure you have plenty of energy. You can probably eat a few more carbs the day before a long surf, however don’t try and do anything to dramatically different to normal, just listen to your body. Also stay well hydrated before your surf sessions.
The next thing is to make sure you warm-up before you get in the water. You can do some stretching on any tight muscle groups, but make sure you also do more of an active warm-up, as this is a more effective way to get your body ready for the waves. Roll your arms around, do some squats and lunges to warm-up your knees, legs and hips and do some trunk rotations. This will help prevent any unwanted muscle strains and get your body switched on and ready to go.
Finally you will want to do some recovery work after each session to keep yourself in good condition. Stretching and foam rolling are the easiest options here and will do wonders for keeping your muscles in working order. Apart from that, catch lots of waves and get plenty of rest!
So there you have it. That’s my blueprint for getting fit for your next surf trip. If you want a comprehensive, step-by-step workout plan that maps out every exercise to get you in peak physical condition download the Total Surfing Fitness 12 week functional training plan…
Download Your Surf Workout Plan
If you want to get started with a step-by-step surf workout plan that can help enhance your surf fitness and performance in the water, make sure you download Total Surfing Fitness – Functional Training for Surfers