Do You Get Abs From Surfing?

You must have seen those wonderful shots of fit surfers catching a high wave, owning it with stalwart composure and focus before slowly returning to the beach where they are welcomed by amazed beachgoers. Those shots alone make the sport seem exhilarating, healthy, and admirable.

A similar view goes for the surfers, too! You look at them in awe because they are strong, healthy, focused, daring, and high-skilled. And they’ve got fantastic bodies, especially torsos. So, you wonder…

Can you truly get a six-pack by paddling on a board and surfing the sea? Is surfing a one-way ticket to the mighty abs you desire? What muscles do you even activate when surfing? Is surfing that hard to do? And how fit do you have to be even to start surfing?

First, you must get acquainted with this healthy sport in general to determine its effect on your body. Keep reading, and you'll learn how surfing is intertwined with muscle framework and muscle gain!

Surfing works it all out

The LA Times writes that surfing counts as a full-body workout, making it on par with cycling, soccer, boxing, swimming, hockey, etc. So, how does surfing work for your whole body? First of all, only paddling puts almost your whole upper torso to work. Triceps, biceps, and deltoids awake as you navigate the waters with your arms.

The trapezius activates, too, as it connects arm muscles with latissimus dorsi and further on with rectus abdominis and in the end, with the external oblique muscles. And keeping balance on a thin, short board on the surface of the moving sea means coordinating all those muscles of your body. 

Second, after you have spotted the wave you want to ride, you have to rise in a crouching position while maintaining focus and balance. In that wave-searching moment, the strength and endurance of your leg and butt muscles are extremely important in assisting all kinds of twists and turns of the upper body - the torso, lower back, upper back, and arms. How to Rip YouTube channel even has a special video dedicated to building stronger legs for surfing.

And third, once you finally get to ride the wave, it is time to test your muscles and your endurance to the maximum. Because if you make one single mistake or one of your muscles falters, you might end up swimming your way back to the shore. Which, of course, puts all your muscles to work again.

To avoid exhaustion, cramping, and drowning, surfers and surfing enthusiasts must have an endurable body and a strong core. Surf trainer Elisa Carver writes more about how poor core strength can ruin your surfing. Which brings us to your question - what about those abdominal muscles?

What makes the abs work?

Just like surfers attract looks and praise for their physique from everyone, people with bellies often attract judgment and scolding for their outlook. After years of poor diet and lackluster physical exercise, coupled with stress and the modern way of sedentary living, the belly is the first body part to give way to unhealthy habits.

This is why most people look at fit abdominal muscles or a sharp six-pack as a sign of a healthy diet and consistent exercise. But building abs depends not just on diet and exercise but also on your genetics and current body fat composition. There are often queries and debates on the topic on subreddits such as r/leangains and r/Fitness.

Wherever you look for fitness advice on muscle gain, you’d find that the most important advice is to have a collective effort. You can’t build muscles by doing high-intensity cardiovascular exercises that burn excess fat. MaxiNutrition writes that it burns too many calories to be able to grow muscles. And you can’t simply force strength exercises like crunches, lunges, planks, and deadlifting without any other changes. 

There is plenty of talk on Quora about muscle tissue loss when your heavy exercises aren't supported by enough nutrients in your diet. And then, simply cutting on your poor diet by knocking off sugary foods and drinks will get you in a better position to exercise, but without pushing your body with cardio and strength workouts, your body will not use those healthy meals in the right way.

Health & Wellness Medical Service has a list of all foods that serve best as fuel that you will use up when doing cardio and strength exercises.

Put together, what makes your (abdominal) muscles grow in the right fashion are the next three things done interchangeably:

  • healthy and strong diet
  • consistent and balanced cardiovascular drills
  • strength training like crunches, planks, and weight-lifting

Can surfing truly build a six-pack?

The short answer to your question is - no. But sometimes, a simple answer can’t do it justice. While surfing is a fantastic full-body workout that also has plenty of mental benefits, it is not built to focus on and upgrade a single muscle group gain. Precisely because of its full-body requirements, professional surfers and surfer enthusiasts must look at a wider picture if they wish to do the sport justice.

And by respecting the sport and preparing yourself well, you’re also respecting your own body. Another surfing YouTube channel, HydroMind, has a 7-minute video that gives credit to this answer. The video details why professional surfers don’t have shredded abs and how it is absolutely crucial to find a middle ground between performance, fat loss, and mass (muscle) gain.


Surfing is a sport that demands coordination between many different muscle zones, and while it does require a strong core, ripped abs aren’t necessarily how you obtain a sturdy core.

However, surfing, in general, gives you a fantastic surround system to work on strength drills to strengthen, shape, and sharpen your abdominal wall. But only if you are willing to dedicate yourself to this task completely and take care of all three - your diet, your cardio, and your muscles!

Oliver Jones

Written by Oliver Jones

I'm a dedicated surfer and writer, and my heart truly belongs to the ocean. Surfing is not just a sport but a way of life for me. I ride the waves in the water and on paper, pouring my passion into every word I write.

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