Performance Surfing Fitness & Pro Surf Workout Programs Part 1

The Truth About Surfing Fitness and Surfing Workouts

How To Design Your Own Surfing Fitness Programs 

– What You Should Be Working On…. Lose The Gimmicks-

You’re reading this because you want to know more about efficient, high quality surfing fitness, get rid of all the exercise non-sense and gimmicks, or you’ve finished Surf Athlete Training Program, and you want to know how to continue that high level training.

If you’ve gone through all the Phases of Surf Training Success, then your capacity for flexibility, strength, power, and endurance has without a doubt dramatically improved, and now I want to show you what to do next. At this point you’ve gone through a very structured training program, and have also experienced a well organized exercise protocol with the three phases of Surf Training Success.

Without you realising it, I’m sure you have the foundation to create your own programs… that would be FAR more beneficial than the average dude putting together a program.

That’s where I want this to go, I want to help you be comfortable, confident, and competent putting together surfing training programs for yourself. What I’m going to do is lay out the basic foundations of good program design.

With those basics, combined with your exercise history and confidence in movements from Surf Training Success, you’ll be able to design yourself programs that will surpass even the majority of personal trainers (most of them are unfortuantely a joke despite being well-intentioned).


To start, I need you to watch this video (below). I go over the major movement patterns that must be included in an efficient surf training workout. I also break down the individual exercises for each of those movement patterns, starting with the basics, to the high level advanced stuff.

Most folks skip right to high performance training, the type found in the surfing fitness apps and programs from the pro’s. Those are high level professional athletes, performing high level training programs.

The body of a pro surfer is far different from the body of the average dude working a 9-5 who surfs once or twice a week. In the video I give you the foundations of training for the “average” non-professional athlete.

With that being said, keep in mind that as surfers, we are all athletes, but your level of beneficial training may be different from my level of beneficial training, and probably FAR different from the level of training of Parko, Fanning, Slater, or Taj.


Big Takeaways from the Video:

Squats, Lunges, Bends, Rotations, Pushes, Pulls….. those are the movement patterns that are the foundation of surfing movements, and should be the foundation of your surf training workouts.

Each major movement pattern has variations, for example, the Squat. For power, you can train box jumps, or rotational jumps, both of which are squat patterns.

And for strength development of a squat you can use Front Squats, or Goblet Squats. For endurance you could train Front Squats, or Squat presses for higher repetition.

And lastly, you could get all fancy with BOSU or indo-board squat presses, or any other variation. Each movement pattern has a spectrum of movements that go from basic to high performance.

Flexibility, Strength, Power, Endurance. That’s where you want to concentrate your efforts. The average surfer is too stiff (women are usually fine with flexibility), too weak, lack overall endurance or fitness, and don’t have power which stems from strength.

You can take the basic movement patterns, and help yourself develop strength, or power, or endurance, depending on what rep range you use, or how short or long your rest periods are.

Your Reps Matter!!!!!!!

  • Endurance Rep Range: 15+
  • Muscle Gain Rep Range: 6-12
  • Strength Development Rep Range: 3-8
  • Power Development Rep Range: 4-10reps, moved explosively. Usually a lighter weight moved high speed, with the set taking less than 20seconds . Heavy weight olympic lifts focus on power, but should be utilised by experienced lifterrs only.

Balance Work– I also kind of “bash” on balance training in the video. Don’t get me wrong, balance training is very beneficial for a surfer, but in terms of time efficiency, I’d rather have you improve some other aspects of your fitness… and then play around on a skateboard to improve dynamic balance.

Besides, balance is combined and developed with strength with your single leg work… remember the lunges and bulgarian split squats from Surf Training Success!??

Flexibility– You’ve got the Performance Mobility Drills from Surf Training Success, as well as all the Recovery Secrets work… so you’re probably all good with flexibility by this point. Everybody could benefit from a yoga class once or twice per week, or you can take a look at these stretches.


We’re Not Quite Finished. Take a look at this blog post… it’s quick, I promise, and I give quite a few more exercise options.

How To Design Surfing Fitness Programs

That post covers exercise order, which is critical to well designed surfing fitness programs. Basically, perform the most complex and demanding movements at the beginning of the workout, and as the workout progresses, perform less complex movements, generally finishing with core, extra shoulder work, or any “prehab” work that you may be working on.

Major Lifts: These are basically the primary movement patterns that I discussed above, and some of the lifts that I think all surfers should be competent in, as along as you don’t have orthopaedic issues that would prevent you from performing them.

  •  KB Swings (bend pattern)
  • Front Squats
  • Jumps (could be a squat or lunge pattern)
  • Lunges
  • Bulgarian Split Squat (single leg exercise, so it’s a lunge variation)
  • Cable Chops (rotation)
  • 1 Arm Cable Pull (pull pattern, and rotational pattern)
  • 1 Arm Cable Push (push pattern, and rotational pattern)
  • Pushup (push pattern)
  • Chin Up / Pullup (pull pattern)
  • Suspension Strap Horizontal Pull (pull pattern)
  • Landmine Presses or Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press (push pattern)
  • Bent Rows, Barbell, Dumbbell (Bend Pattern)
  • 1 Arm Bent Dumbbell Row (Bend Pattern and Rotational pattern)
  • Deadlift (Bend Pattern)
  • Single Leg Deadlift (Bend Pattern, and Single Leg Pattern)


Both extra core work and shoulder work is generally placed towards the end of a training program.

Extra Core work

Most of your core work is covered in the major lifts. Supplemental core work is great, but I won’t give any specific recommendations, as I see core work as relevant to an individual and their spine/pelvis position. Take a look at these posts for extra core work ideas or refer to Surf Training Success.

Integrative Core Training

Core Training For The Surfer

Rotational Core Training

Extra Shoulder work

Surfers can use more shoulder work, as paddling can beat the hell out of some shoulders, so it’s good to have a bit of extra focus to increase endurance and durability. Here’s a few past posts that go over some good shoulder work.

Also keep in mind the need to focus on tissue health and flexibility… so keep working on Recovery Secrets and Performance Mobility Drills from Surf Training Success. If you don’t have access to that, you should check it out, or go through the Shoulder Health posts on this site.

Guide To Surf Paddling – Loads of Shoulder Exercises

 Dynamic Shoulders


I generally have people working on two programs. It allows for more exercise variety, keeps things fresh, and let’s you focus on different aspects. For example, one program could be more squat based with a focus on endurance, and also have a lot of pulling movements.

While the other program could have you working on Deadlifts and Lunges, as well as upperbody pulling movements. I’d probably have some extra core in both programs as well as some extra shoulder work.

You can always throw in some extra cardio during the week if you’ve got some time, or make one of your programs a circuit style workout (all exercises are in succession with no rest between them).

Below is a program from a recent client. Arrows denote “no rest”, so it’s basically a superset with the following exercise. Front Squats are performed then immediately 1 Arm Cable pushes are performed, then there’s a 90-120 second rest period. Then repeat the sets as necessary.

In this program you’ll see a Squat Pattern (front squat), Rotational Pattern ( 1 arm cable push, dynamic cable chop, and alternating supermans**), Push Pattern (1 arm cable push, stability ball jackknife with pushup), Bend Pattern (bent row), Pull Pattern (bent row), Lunge / Single Leg (bulgarian split squat). BOOM!!!!! The major lifts hit the core, and also cable chops and alternating superman hit the core a bit more as well.

The program could use a bit more pulling or shoulder work to build up some paddling endurance, but all in all, this is a damn fine program!!!! You could tweak all these reps depending on whether you want to focus on endurance, strength, or power.

You could take out the Front Squats and use Kettlebell Swings, or some explosive jumping movement. JackKnifes could be replaced by some other pushup variation or Pushing movement like Landmine Presses. There is limitless variety!

surfing fitness workouts

Here’s another program written for a client that’s working on deadlift strength development for lower body strength/power, and I wanted him to begin getting comfortable with swings.

In this program you’ll see some lower body power development with a Squat Pattern (Box jumps), the BOSU land is to spice it up a bit, Push Pattern (pushup variation), Bend (kettlebell swings which focus on power and overall endurance), Pull Pattern (dynamic 1 arm cable pull), and I finished it up with a bit of extra shoulder work with the ATY’s.

surfing fitness

There is no exact Right or Wrong program.

A good program for me could be a bad program for you. There are however basic tenets of what creates a good program, which you’re now aware of.

  • Pay attention to correct order of exercises.
  • Use the primary surfing movement patterns and variations of them in your program. Focus on major lifts.
  • Become proficient at basic movements, then start getting fancy with them later, so don’t immediately start with fancy pro-level stuff. Pay CLOSE attention to perfect movement when executing an exercise, as you’re teaching your body/brain to move, so if you do shitty exercises, you’re teaching your body/brain to move shitty…. which isn’t a good thing.
  • Vary your rep ranges, occasionally work on endurance. But don’t forget power, or strength development, as they’re all necessary to a fully efficient surf-body.
  •  Pull movements from Surf Training Success design your own programs!

I realize that this is a lot to absorb. So when you start putting together your own programs, WHICH YOU SHOULD!, post them on the Facebook page and I can critique them there. Please let me know what you think of this, and I’m happy to answer any questions!!!


surf, movement, nutrition, life

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  • […] Even your choice of exercises are basically endless., but consider the actual carryover to your surfing based on the relevance of the exercise and it’s relation to the basic Primary Movement Requirements.   You can find a list in my last article of movements that I think most serious surfers should be proficient with. Article:   Performance Surfing Workouts – Program Design […]
  • Cris I just watch you seminar, great info! what is was searching for, also I´ve reading Gray Cook´s info so now I have a good perspetive to discriminate wheter a training method is good or efficent  for surfing or not
  • GonzaloSepu thanks man.  tried to say a lot in a very short period of time.  there's SO much else that could be said.  so many aspects of human movement and performance training.

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