Top Surf Exercises – Full Body Moves

Full Body Surf Exercises – Muscle Isolation is NOT the answer

Boys and Girls… you’re surfers, you move dynamically, you need flexibility, you need to be strong, you need to be highly coordinated, but like I said at first, you gotta move dynamically!!!!

Get strong in movements! Develop a body that is strong and fluid in movement, not some ridiculous biceps curl or triceps pushdown.

Not Gonna Help Ya’ Surf

I look at Lots and Lots and Lots of surfers training programs, and if there’s one thing I can gripe about (there are many), is seeing too many programs that don’t include what I would refer to as surf exercises.

The programs use old school, bodybuilding style movements that isolate joints and isolate muscle groups. That can be fine if you really just want some bigger biceps, or you’re looking to rehab a specific joint, but muscle isolation does nothing to build strength in fluid movement… which should be the goal of any well designed surf exercise or surf training program.

Why Do You Need Dynamic Strength… To Blast Rad Turns!!! – Duh!!

Imagine yourself hauling ass down the line, big crouching bottom turn, and then smashing out a huge frontside carve… the type of turn that just feels incredible and that you hope your buddies just saw. Now think of that movement, and consider how many muscles you just used to perform that turn.

Big Movement.. Flexibility.. Strength

Every single muscle in your body… literally, every single muscle was called upon by your nervous system to complete that turn. Hundreds of muscles working in coordination with incredibly efficient timing.

That’s why you need some full body surf exercises to develop integrative strength between the upper and lower body, and develop coordination of chains of muscles.

I’ve written about the need for stretching chains of muscles and developing full body surf flexibility in this post… Surfer Stretches-Full Body Mobility

Just like mobility and flexibility needs to be increased along chains of muscles and tissue, the same goes for exercises. And again, I must reiterate that there are times that very specific muscles need to be isolated to stretch or strengthen depending on the particular issues…. but for the very large majority of us surfers, we gotta strengthen and elongate chains of muscles that create movement.

You Need To Use Single Arm Exercises!!

It’s time to show you some rad surf exercises that I strongly believe every surfer should utilize in their surf training workouts at some point.

Single Arm Pushes and Pulls

Watch video here

In the video, I’m using bands… which are great for traveling with. I prefer to use a cable machine as it’s just easier to regulate resistance, however the bands are great for anyone traveling, or using a home gym.

The single arm split stance variations work chains of muscles throughout the body, and are absolutely great for becoming strong in movement. Specifically, for you anatomy nerds out there, you’re developing the anterior and posterior oblique slings.

All you really need to know is that as a surfer, it would benefit your overall movement efficiency and strength to develop proper motion and power in these anterior and posterior oblique slings. It’s good stuff.

 Variations for Pushes and Pulls

Parallel Stance– this helps to develop core strength, but also pelvic stability. Pelvic girdle stability is critical for anyone dealing with low back and hip issues.

Parallel stance is a good place for everyone to start using these movements. I’d suggest 3-4sets of 14-16 slower controlled reps for 2-3 weeks before moving into split stance.

Split Stance– this foot position begins to develop more dynamic lower body stability, and continues to integrate rotational core strength with pushing and pulling.

This split stance is a necessary position for surfers to be strong in, as it represents the typical leg separation you see with surf-stances. As with the parallel stance,

I recommend 3-4sets of 14-16 slower reps, and then progressing to 3-4sets of 8-12 reps with higher resistance. You can increase resistance by moving your body further away from the band anchor point.

Dynamic Movement – Yewww! now you’re moving! This is a really fun exercise and truly develops strength in motion. Get efficient with these! 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps will focus more on strength development, while 3-4sets in a higher rep range, say 16-18 will get into strength endurance. I like to vary the rep ranges every two weeks or so.

How To Make A Biceps Curl Into a Surf Exercise

So consider this biceps curl that I’ve been bashing the last few minutes. Lets turn that biceps curl into a surf exercise, a full body integrative movement. The video above is the closest video I currently have to what I describe next… all it’s missing is the rotation part.

Grab that dumbbell, curl it up to the shoulder, hold the dumbbell shoulder height, drop into a squat position, propel yourself up out of the squat, pivot the feet and rotate the body 90degrees towards the side that is not holding the dumbbell, and then press that dumbbell over head.

That’s an integrative full body surf exercises… and will even give you some bigger biceps. What’s that saying you hear in the gyms??, something along the lines of biceps for the bitches!

Ladies, take no offense to that, it’s just some meat-head gym slang.

Give these a go, and leave some comments below letting me know what you thought about the exercises. Take home message… you’re a surfer and human being, and surfers and human beings need to be able to move… move quickly, move powerfully, and move efficiently and freely. So get mobile, get flexible, and get strong!

Leave some comments and please share this on fbook or twitter with your friends!!! Spread the love! -cris

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  • Hi Cris. Do you have any exercises that would help strengthen my glutes? I'm a female surfer who needs more Glute and leg power. :)
    • @SophieKennedy17  KB swings, Glute Hip thrusters, Deadlifts, and Explosive Jumps (squat jumps).  Sprinting is also a great movement to develop hip power.
      • @crismills  @SophieKennedy17  Thanks Cris. I am actually a sprinter also just trying to get extra power in my hip and glutes. Thanks so much. :)
  • Dude you're exercises are so awesome. I wish you were in the states ! I have begun to see a major difference in my surfing. I'm not a short boarder just for the mere fact that I get high from hanging ten. My question is I have bend getting pain in my left shoulder and really can't afford to go see a doctor. Any exercises for more paddle endurance???
  • Sunbum27  hey bud,  check out the post "Guide to Paddle Training"  That'll have a lot of insight, as there are so many different options for training.  Lots of pulling exercises, some that focus on power, and others that focus on endurance.  So high speed full power output for <10reps, and other lighter weight long term movement >15reps

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