Surf Training Programs – How You Can Build Surf Workouts

I want to address a question that has been coming up pretty often from people following surfstrengthcoach.com.

A typical question is this “you’ve got so much good information on the site and loads of exercises, but I could use some advice as to designing a surf training program for myself or how to put a good workout together.”

So where should you start? What should your surf training programs look like, and how you can design your own surf workouts?

It’s a good question, and I want to throw out a few ideas so that you can get a better understanding of how you should be structuring your own Well-Designed (yes, well-designed) surf training workouts that are specific to building a body that can shred, rip, catch a few extra waves, and get wicked fit!

Surf Training Programs – Movement Goals

She’s got the moves…


You first need to prioritize the goals of your training. More importantly, what skills does surfing require, and how can you train to improve those skills?

This could be extremely detailed, but to keep it simple, you need to be explosive, you need single leg strength and balance, you need a properly functioning core, and you need some full body endurance.

Those are a few of the big basics of surf training programs. Trust me, there can be so much more included, but to keep it simple, we’ll go with those big ones.


1, 2, 3, 4………..

One more thing. To truly benefit from your surf training or surf workouts, you need to have your exercises in the correct order. With consulting clients, and even with some widely used surf training programs, proper exercise order is often overlooked.

This puts you at risk for injury and prevents you from benefitting as much as you could or should from your surf workouts. Again, to keep this brief, just consider this…

You want to place the most demanding and difficult exercises at the beginning of your workout while you’re still fresh. Power would be trained before strength.

Strength would be trained before your endurance work. Single leg work would be towards the beginning of your workouts since single leg exercises are usually rather difficult and demand a lot of work from your nervous system.

Your core work would likely be towards the end, as you don’t want to overly fatigue all those important muscles that stabilize your spine and torso before doing other big or powerful exercises. There’s a lot of room for injury if you do that.

So for now, we’ll go with that, and keep it simple—-stupid. (not you, the kiss principle). There are all sorts of reasons exercise order can be switched around, but don’t worry about it. So let’s get to the movements.

Explosiveness or Power

We all want to throw down some big moves in the surf…. massive amounts of spray off the top, a huge power carve, or heaving bottom turns. This takes Power and lots of it. So you need to train your body to be explosively powerful.

Pavel… The KB Swing
  • Uphill Sprints
  • Speed Deadlifts
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Box Jumps
  • Squat Jumps
  • Olympic Lifts

All of these movements train your body to produce huge amounts of force, in a very short period of time, and that is what Power is. Explosively strong movements that happen in a fraction of a second.

Wapawwwwwwww!!!!! (that’s the sound of crushing a lip with a huge frontside hack…. and that takes Power).

IMPORTANT… These movements would be utilized at the beginning of your workouts so your muscles are fresh and ready to produce force. You DO NOT want to have fatigued joint stabilizing muscles and then do a lot of Power training, as there’s too much risk involved for injury.

Single Leg Work

I’ve written about this type of surf training programs extensively here on the site. The benefits of this style of training extend to increased balance, injury prevention, core integration…. basically they are REALLY GOOD moves for us surfers.

Bulgarian Split Squat

There is an Entire Category “Single Leg Training” on this blog site, so give it a look…. lots of good info!

Movements like these are a MUST in your surf workouts. These movements are too beneficial for you not to be using them.

As mentioned previously, you would place these moves towards the beginning of your workouts, as they are very demanding to the body and require so many muscles to “fire” and stabilize joints, that they can be rather fatiguing.

I would work on these after your Power movements but before your Endurance work.

NOTE*- as you’ll read in Endurance Work, I often use circuit style training. I will usually use some type of Single Leg Surf Specific Exercises within those circuits, although they’ll be either the first or second exercise of the circuit…


You want to be fresh in the surf, with plenty of energy reserve so you don’t miss those set waves. Surfing is heavily demanding on the body. Think of those long paddle outs, or just paddling around, catching waves, popping up, throwing down some hacks, and doing that for 4 hours.

That requires loads of energy and requires that your muscles work for really long periods of time. So you need some endurance, or what is sometimes referred to as metabolic conditioning.

Your surf training program needs some type of exercise or grouping of exercises (circuit) that will challenge your bodies energy systems and require your body to work and move for extended periods of time.

Something I use often are circuits, and I’ve done too many posts to count on Surf Workout circuits. It’s just a grouping of exercises that are done one after the other, without rest, until all exercises are completed.

They are a great way to train multiple movements, challenge the body, and burn through some body fat if you’ve got some to lose.

There are too many styles of Endurance Work to cover, but you’re basically looking to keep your body moving for an extended period of time. The following are some good ideas but find one that suits you. I personally like Jumping Rope, and use Surf Specific Circuit Training all the time!

swim surf training


This could be a post by itself, and I’ve actually written a lot of posts about this topic. To keep you injury free, strong, and basically well-functioning, you NEED a strong core. Too many people today think of core training as your abs, and doing countless crunches.

Without sounding too much like a dick, this is so old school stupid and endlessly irritates me. Your core is comprised of multiple muscles throughout your body that control movement, transfer power, and stabilize the spine.

A strong and optimally functioning core is critical to function as a human being, and especially to function in the surf. So your surf training and surf workouts NEED some core training…but beneficial and effective core training.

Realistically, all your big full body strength lifts are some of the best core training out there.

Deadlifts, Front Squats, Back Squats, Lunges, Snatches, Kettlebell Swings….. all that fun stuff. Any of those big integrative lifts are excellent core training and should be used in your programs, as long as you know how to properly perform those moves. Hire a coach, or consult with me, or review some videos.

These movements can be a bit intimidating for someone new to training but can be perfectly safe and immensely beneficial movements when executed properly. Then there are the more focused “core” training movements that I’m referring to here in this article.

Supine Lateral Ball Roll

This could be a really long list, but those cover some of the big ones. There’s plenty of Surf Workout Core Training here on the site, so check out some of the older posts.

Now Build Your Surf Training or Surf Workout Program

So that should give you a pretty good start at piecing together a quality surf specific training program for yourself that could positively impact your ability and skills in the surf.

There is always the Free Surf Exercise and Mobility Program offered here on the site that will give you a great start to quality surf training and give you some other good ideas surf exercises.

If you take a look at that program, you’ll be able to place just about every single one of the surf training movements used into one of the main categories mentioned above.

Piece together a program stick with it, progress, and track progress! I get tired of seeing people just doing a random workout every time they hit the gym….. you’ve got to train so your body adapts!

Random workouts will challenge the body, but they do NOT provide a consistent stimulus that your body must adapt to, grow, and improve.

Pick some of the movements mentioned, perhaps add some supplemental work that focuses on your weaknesses, improves joints range of motion, specifically trains the shoulders, or lower back… and get surf training.

Surf Athlete Training Program

Surf Athlete Training Program is a complete, step by step guide to progressive surf fitness training I designed…. that essentially gives you all the secrets of professional level surf training, injury prevention, and all the moves, exercises, and stretches you need to be working on. Check it out… you’ll dig it.


One more aspect that you need to consider is being able to move your body freely and easily….. flexibility. Some people just have more than others. Others sit at a desk all day, so certain parts of their bodies become tight, restricted, and less mobile.

Whatever your particular case may be, get into some good mobility movements, and use them before your surf sessions and before your workouts.

The FREE Surf Exercise & Mobility Program from this site has a complete surf specific dynamic warmup that is a good place to start…. here’s another vid with a good warmup.

Surf Training – Surf Exercise Dynamic Warmup

LAST BIT OF HELP…… get an Indo board or a skateboard. They can be super fun and are actually a really good bit of cross training.

Indo-boarding my ass off……..

If you’ve got some trouble piecing together your own program or want to be certain you’re using correct exercises, send me an email. [email protected]

I consult with people all the time and help them to focus their surf training program to what they NEED to be working on and improving to boost their surfing.

Everyone has very individual needs, and require very different exercises. So get in touch!!! Someone on one consulting may be just what you need to really take your skills to the next level.

Comment below on what you thought about these posts, your current training program, or if you’ve got any questions about the movements.

Grab the Surf Athlete Program & Enhance Your Surfing & Health Today…and Forever

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