8 Important Surfing Exercises To Get Better on the Board

Just like most sports, surfing can be physically demanding and frankly exhausting. However, just like with any physical activity, you can train yourself to become better and stronger with specific exercises suited to your needed skills. Here are some surfing exercises you’ll need to start doing if you want to get better at riding the sickest waves.

1. Shoulder Stretching

Any good workout begins with a little limbering up. Even when you’re doing warm-ups, you need to stretch the muscles most widely used in surfing. First up, of course, would be your arms. Shoulder pain is a common complaint among surfers, especially if they only spend their time surfing on the weekends and have a day job at a desk or an office.

Being in a hunched position for long periods of time can cause weakened upper back and shoulder muscles, such as your trapezius,  and can round your shoulder, so you have difficulty puffing your chest out. So, it’s crucial to strengthen these to keep yourself from injury.

One way to exercise the traps is to lay flat on your stomach with arms to the sides. Then, you slowly lift your hands towards the ceiling with your arms still straightened, which isolates the muscles of that area.

2. Surfing Push-Ups

Being able to push your own body weight up quickly to stand on a surfing board is a skill that every surfer worth their salt needs to know. That’s why push-ups are important for surfing enthusiasts. You can start off with standard push-ups (or if you can’t handle those, you could always start from off a wall) and then progress to some more challenging modifications, like a clap push-up where you both hands together before falling to the bottom of a push-up.

A more strengthening activity is a dumbbell push-up, where you have one in each hand and then bring each side up to your chest while you’re at the top, like a bicep curl. 

3. Arm Paddling

Paddling endurance while surfing is one of the greatest barriers to progress, as most of your time trying to get to that incredible wave in the distance will be spent paddling. This isn’t even including the paddling you need to do to get back to shore! You can also perform prone swimming, which targets the muscles of the lower back.

Simply put yourself prone on the floor, then reach your arms and legs out and pull your hands back like you’re simulating a breaststroke. As you keep doing reps, your arms, legs, and chest should all be raised off the ground. You can also use gym machines that focus on your upper back or just practice by actually swimming.

4. Pop-Up Training

With all the strength you’ve gained in your arm muscles from all those push-ups, you’re now ready for pop-up training! Just like a push-up, you start prone on the floor. However, you need your hands right by your ribs instead of in line with your shoulders.

Decide which foot you’re leading with on the surfboard, because as soon as you make an explosive push off the ground to lift yourself up, you need to swing that foot from under you and have your back foot engaged as you get into a surfer’s squat position, all in one fluid motion.

5. Different Kinds of Squats

Those quads and glutes need to be solid if you want enough power to fight the power of an ocean wave. Surfer squats are not only beneficial for board riders - they’re also amazing exercise for just about anyone.

You start by performing a squat with arms out straight on both sides, body facing one side, and head turned forward. Then you make a big jump that turns your whole body to the opposite side and land in that same squatting position.

If you’re feeling up to the challenge, you can try split squats. With a bench behind you, you can prop up the top of one foot behind you on the bench with the other foot firmly planted on the ground. From here, you can bend that front leg into a squat with the back knee dipping down to as far as you can comfortably go.

You can also try pivot squats or single-leg squats. You’ll definitely feel the burn with that one.

6. Effective Lunges

Lunges are another type of exercise that will not only tone and strengthen your leg muscles but will also teach you how to position yourself properly for a better surfing experience. Aside from just normal lunges, you can do overhead lunges that have you lifting dumbells in both hands over your head as you bend your knees.

This exercise will help stabilize all the major axles on your body as you prepare to pop up and keep yourself steady. 

7. Bosu Ball Drills

Stability and balance are a surfer’s best skills out on the actual water, as these are what will prevent you from totally wiping out. If you’re looking to train out of the water, but still simulate the conditions, you can place the bosu ball underneath your surfboard and get on top of it as you balance such that neither end of your board touches the floor.

Aside from this, you can also test your agility and reactions by jumping directly on top of the bosu ball itself and keeping yourself from falling off.

8. Stability Ball Training

For the ultimate control and core strengthening exercises, you can’t go wrong with a stability or exercise ball. But be ready, as this could be the most physically draining part of your session. For one, you can do a jackknife by setting yourself up on a plank with your feet on top of the stability ball.

You then will need to maintain your straight upper body and keep your arms up as you slowly bring the ball toward the top half of your body with your legs. Another impressive exercise is the dumbbell rotation. To start, you would need to put your back firmly on the ball with your knees bent and your feet flat.

You can then take a dumbbell in both hands and rotate them so they go from one side to the ceiling, then to the other side, and back again, all while maintaining straightened arms at chest level.


While doing surfing exercises each day can make you a physically stronger and more capable surfer, you will also need the endurance, motivation, and heart to keep improving yourself.

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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