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How to Properly Build Surfing Muscles

By working out the muscles used for surfing through the pursuit of physical fitness, your body will become a paddling machine, apt to throw massive buckets out the back due to strengthened surfing muscles and a kick-ass cardiovascular system.

To etch your body into a surfer body type that directly benefits your surfing, your workouts must target the major muscle groups that you use the most while surfing, and this requires an understanding of exactly what these main muscle groups are so that you can adjust your fitness regime accordingly.

How to Begin Building Muscle Strength for Surfing

As a surfer, you want muscles that are strong, but also ones that can surf for extended periods.

You must maintain a balance of weighted strength training while utilising high repetitions for equal strength to endurance levels, and focus these high reps specifically on the muscles used for surfing.

Balance this dedication with the right diet, one that promotes a lean and cut surfer body type, and you'll see definitive and noticeable advancements with your capabilities in the water.

Your Heart

Every single muscle and internal body system that you use while surfing requires ample blood flow from the heart. The stronger your heart is, the more power your muscles can exert during a short burst of energy, like big hacks and carves, and a strong heart also directs how long you can surf during single increments.

To workout your heart, you must include forms of cardio training into your workouts.

Surfing itself is great cardio, but during those flat spells try and incorporate some simple cardio-based activities like:

  • Light running
  • Swimming
  • Paddleboarding
  • Cycling
  • Jumping rope
  • Hitting a boxing bag

Your heart is one of the most important muscles used for surfing, so use this as inspiration to strengthen it through cardio and a healthy diet.

Your Shoulders and Upper Back

When you're in the water, you spend more time paddling than doing anything else. Your shoulders and upper back are the driving force of strong paddling, as well as your duck dives, and this will of course help you navigate sketchy conditions with more comfort.

You need strong muscles, but you also need ones that are endurance-based so that they can remain powerful the whole session considering they will be used the entire time.

Workouts that balance weight training with endurance specific to muscles including your Latissimus dorsi, Rhomboids, Trapezius, and Erector spinae are your go-to, such as:

  • Pullups and chinups
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Bent over rows
  • T-bar rows
  • Seated cable rows
  • One-arm dumbbell rows
  • Back extensions
  • Dumbbell shrugs
  • Bent over lateral raises
  • Seated front dumbbell press

Perform these workouts with medium weight and high repetition, and your paddle abilities are guaranteed to excel.

Your Arms

Your arms also play a huge role in how strong and how long you can paddle, and also dictate effortless pop-ups. Surfing muscles used in the arms include the trapezius, rectus abdominis, latissimus dorsi, obliques, triceps, biceps, and deltoids.

So yeah, pretty much every single muscle group in your arm is used.

Again, how to build muscle strength for surfing is done with workouts that combine semi-heavy lifting with high repetitions for endurance and muscle longevity.

Try to incorporate some of the following exercises into your workout routine:

  • Dumbbell and barbell curls
  • Dumbbell hammer curls
  • Bench dips
  • Battle ropes
  • Medicine ball slams
  • Diamond push-ups
  • Bent over tricep extensions
  • Overhead weighted tricep dip
  • Cable triceps extensions
  • Wrist flexion

Your Chest

Every wave we catch requires a pop-up that engages our chest, and your chest also connects to your arms, shoulders, and upper back when you paddle.

The muscles in your chest are mainly responsible for powering your surfboard under the water while duck diving, and because of this strong chest muscles help with your surfing.

For workouts that aim to build chest muscles used for surfing, these exercises are great places to start as they all help to strengthen the Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, and Serratus Anterior.

  • All varieties of push-ups
  • Dumbbell squeeze press
  • Incline barbell bench press
  • Incline dumbbell bench press
  • Close-grip barbell bench press
  • Decline press-up
  • Cable fly
  • Medicine ball slams

Once again, medium weight and high reps are the way to achieve strong surfing muscles that can paddle for hours, but the chest is the one area where bulking isn't the worst thing, so don't be afraid to add on a little extra weight during your training.

Your Core

Your core is the single most important muscle group in your body in terms of surfing.

Every move your body makes is dictated by your core, as it directly influences your balance, and the stronger your core is the more controlled and the more powerful you can execute manoeuvres on a wave.

If you want to use fitness as a means to surf better, then absolutely maintain a huge focus on a surfer ab workout to strengthen your core, using some of the below exercises as inspiration to your regime:

  • Planks
  • Bear crawl shoulder tap
  • Half kneeling woodchop
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Dead bugs
  • High boat low boats
  • Medicine ball sit-ups
  • Body saw
  • Side bends
  • Jackknife
  • Hollow body rock
  • All variations of sit-ups

These surfer ab workouts are core-specific, but as you perform all other workouts, especially lower body, make sure to engage your core there as well, as even those aim to strengthen the most important of muscles used for surfing.

Your Lower Body

As soon as you stand up on your board the lower body takes control.

Working with your core muscles to maintain balance, your lower body directs your movements on the wave and is responsible for being able to initiate all the fun turns we love to do.

The stronger your legs, the more powerful of a surfer you will become, and this will help you to throw more water out the back and huck huge airs that can only be performed by a body that is simultaneously lean, powerful, and strong.

Working out your lower body is relatively easy, and you can workout your Quadriceps, Glutes, Calves, Hamstrings, ankles, and feet with either weight training or just your bodyweight alone using some of these exercises as inspiration:

  • Bodyweight squat
  • Barbell squat
  • Goblet squat
  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Wall squats
  • Lunges
  • Calf raises
  • Bridge
  • Banded lateral walk
  • Single leg deadlift
  • Sumo deadlift
  • Lateral balanced lunge
  • Burpees
  • Ankle lifts

Where your upper body directs most of your paddling, your lower body directs most of your actual surfing, so cater your workout to focus on this aspect and you will soon enjoy benefits that others can see and that you can feel when you're ripping it up.

Key Takeaways of How to Build Muscle Strength for Surfing

In the end, the main thing to keep in mind for building surfing muscles is dedication. Nothing happens overnight, it takes time to see results, and the key is to stick to your routine with ruthless consistency.

None of your fitness strides will advance unless you also ensure that the proper nutrition needs are being met, so do be sure to eat all the right foods, especially protein.

Always stay hydrated, stretch for at least 20 minutes, and rest each of these muscle groups for around 48 hours before working them out again for optimal results and high levels of amplified surfing performance.