Surf Training – Paddle Workout


Paddle workout: How much would your surfing benefit if you could paddle for longer times without fatigue or a need for rest. Couldn’t you catch some more waves if you had more powerful strokes, and stronger strokes?

How many waves have you missed in the past years because your arms were to worn out to paddle into that set wave at the end of day? In your surf training programs, throw in some paddle endurance circuits…Build some stamina in your back, triceps, core, shoulders, and lats.

Paddling Circuit – Train Your Arms To Move!

It drives me nuts when I miss a wave because my arms are shot…. noodles flailing around in the water. If you’re noodles at the end of a 4hour session, that’s one thing, if your arms are worn out after your first big paddle out…You need to get a stronger back and arms.

Not only do you need to strengthen various muscle groups to specifically influence surfing, you also need to train them in a manner to prepare them for the rigors of surfing.

Watch the video here

Metabolic conditioning is a term that gets thrown around in the strength and conditioning field. And it’s essentially what you need to improve to paddle harder, faster, and for longer periods.

It refers to the ability of your cellular systems to provide energy for whatever demands are placed upon it. You can basically train, at varying intensities and times, to influence or improve the various methods your body uses to provide energy.

You may have heard the terms “aerobic” and “anaerobic“. It basically refers to how your body provides energy to the cell. And whether or not it utilizes oxygen in the process.

In surfing, you are constantly utilizing both systems, so you need to train both systems.

The anaerobic system is primarily responsible for strong, short duration bursts of movements…. fast sudden paddling for the set wave, or the strong explosive leg movements with a bottom turn.

The aerobic system is utilized during your 15 minute paddle out on that big day, where the back extensor muscles, and scapular stabilizes are working constantly for the full duration of the paddle out.

So as a surfer, you need to train both, and you definitely need to train both in regards to paddling. Check out this post for some other paddle endurance exercise ideas and some stretches you NEED to be working on to keep your shoulders healthy……… Paddle Stronger and Longer

This Surf Training Paddle Circuit addresses both of those systems. And trains your body to be able to sustain prolonged activity while switching back and forth between the anaerobic/aerobic systems, keeping your arms moving quickly and powerfully.

  • Bent Rows – heavier weight, lower reps, developing strength throughout arms and back, while also building stability and postural endurance through the torso…Hugely beneficial for maintaining proper back positioning when paddling.
  • Cable Alternating Pulls – performed immediately after bent rows, which place more emphasis on strength. This movement places more of an aerobic demand on the back and pulling muscles, while the rotational movement of the alternating pulls helps to condition the torso for paddling demands and core strength.
  • Straight Arm Lat Pull Downs – this is obviously strengthening the movement for that paddling stroke. And the higher rep range is further training your body to withstand longer paddle outs. Standing on a single leg promotes some balance training, so mix it up!
  • Rhomboid Pulls / Reverse Flies – This movement promotes more endurance training throughout the scapular stabilizer muscles…The muscles that will help you paddle and hold your shoulders in place to paddle your ass off!

Utilize this circuit two times per week along with your other training regiment.

For some other surf workout ideas, check out this post Surf Workout to spice up your current training programs.

If you don’t have a cable machine for the exercises shown in the paddle circuit, you can easily utilize some bands. If you’ve got some other shoulder/back exercises that your prefer, throw them into this circuit or replace one of the movements.

The key to full paddle training is utilizing high rep ranges as well as lower rep ranges. You need to build variations of strength, power, and endurance to keep those arms moving quickly, powerfully, and for long periods.

So get into some Surf Training Paddling Circuits. And catch some of those set waves at the end of that 4 hour session.


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