Surf Paddling Workout – Endurance

Surf Paddling Workout-Endurance

Surf paddling workout: We’ve all had that feeling at one point, when all you can see is whitewater and oncoming sets, and your arms feel like they can’t move, you’re trying to paddle but you don’t seem to be progressing forwards, and that damn burn in your arms and shoulders just won’t subside.

If it’s under 5foot, you should step up your surf paddling endurance! If it’s over 5 foot,…. good effort.

The most efficient method to improve you surf paddling endurance is to be in the water, and paddle, and then paddle more, and then even more. But for most of us, that’s not always possible.

What we can do is try, try to the best of our ability to mimic the biomechanics and energy pathways that paddling requires. I would also recommend just going for a paddle, even if it’s flat, and get in some on-the-water paddling time.


That video gives you a circuit of exercises that if performed correctly will drastically improve your capacity in the water, but I want to stress the importance of having the necessary flexibility in the upper body to accommodate strength and power.

If you’re tight, bound up, and have restricted joint movement, adding strength and power movements to limited range of motion is a good way to tear joints apart. Don’t do that. Get Flexible.

TOP SHOULDER STRETCHES FOR SURFERS Read that article or watch this vid:

Paddling is a combination of what we term open-chain and closed-chain movements, pulling movements to be more specific. Open-chain means you’re pulling an object towards the body, like a 1-arm cable pull.

Closed-chain means you’re pulling the body towards a fixed object, like a chin-up. Paddling is a combination of those movements, that’s why both types are used in the workout circuit from the video. Using a combination of closed chain and open chain movements in a workout has more of a movement carryover to paddling.

Power, Strength, & Endurance

Surfing requires all three, and flexibility, and back endurance, and core control, but alas, this is about paddling. Those three bio-motor profiles are trained differently, and require different reps and intensities.

Power would be high speed movement, moved rapidly, as fast as possible or a short period of time. I could have done bodyweight pull-ups as fast as possible, or high speed 1 arm cable rows, or med-ball slams.

Strength is high intensity, lower reps (less than 6-8), and producing high amounts of force at slower speed. I trained more strength in the video with weighted chin-ups. For some, a bodyweight chin-up may be a strength emphasis.

Heavier, lower repetition 1-arm Bent Dumbell Rows are an option, as are Barbell Bent Rows. I would recommend you have some solid training background behind you before attempting lower rep loads.

And lastly, endurance.

Higher repetition for longer periods of time. In the video I use alternating straight arm lat-pulls, and follow it up with jumprope to further tax my anaerobic capacity (shorter duration higher intensity).

If you wanted to focus more on aerobic capacity you could jumprope slower for longer periods, or use a row machine or versa-climber.
Here’s an article with a full list of stretches, mobility drills, and exercises all relevant to increasing your paddling endurance and durability.
Guide To Surf Paddle Training
The options for surf paddling endurance workouts are really quite expansive. What is most relevant is that the movements, exercises, duration, and speed of movement hit on the required physical skill-sets that surfing requires, or that you’re lacking in. Be smart with your training so you can reap the rewards in the water.
Here’s a few other ideas for exercises.

If you use the circuit I show in the first video for a few weeks I absolutely guarantee you’ll see the difference in your paddling capacity. Make a paddling circuit of your own and post it on the Surf Strength Coach Facebook page and I’ll give you some feedback. Be smart about it, consider the training effect you’re going for. And use exercises, reps, and tempos to achieve the desired outcome.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply