Surfing is an exhilarating sport that requires both strength and agility, and if you’re eager to ride the waves like a pro, it’s crucial to incorporate the right exercises into your fitness routine. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or just starting out, this article will guide you through a selection of the best exercises specifically designed to enhance your surfing skills. From strengthening your core to improving your balance, get ready to take your surfing game to the next level with these targeted exercises.

Strength Training

Strength training is a crucial aspect of any surfer’s fitness routine. It helps build the necessary muscle power and endurance required to handle the waves and perform maneuvers effectively. Among the various strength training exercises, there are a few key ones that every surfer should incorporate into their workout regimen.


Squats are a highly effective lower body exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. By performing squats regularly, you can develop the leg strength needed to maintain stability on your surfboard and generate power for maneuvers.


Deadlifts primarily work on your posterior chain, which includes the muscles in your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. These muscles play a crucial role in maintaining balance and stability while riding a wave. By incorporating deadlifts into your strength training routine, you can strengthen these muscles and improve your overall surfing performance.

Bench Press

Although surfing primarily engages the muscles of the lower body, it is important not to neglect the upper body. The bench press is a popular exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. By incorporating bench presses into your routine, you can develop upper body strength, which is essential for paddling and maneuvering on the surfboard.


Pull-ups are an excellent exercise for targeting the muscles of the upper body, particularly the back, shoulders, and arms. Surfers rely on these muscles for paddling and maintaining balance on the board. By regularly doing pull-ups, you can strengthen these muscles, improve your paddling efficiency, and enhance your overall performance in the water.


Push-ups are a classic exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. By incorporating push-ups into your strength training routine, you can develop upper body and core strength, which are essential for stability and control while surfing.

Balance and Stability

Developing balance and stability is vital for surfers as it allows them to stay on their boards and maintain control during challenging maneuvers. Incorporating specific exercises into your fitness routine can help improve your balance and stability on the water.

Single-Leg Exercises

Single-leg exercises, such as single-leg squats or lunges, are great for improving balance and stability. These exercises require you to engage your core and activate the muscles in your legs individually, mimicking the movements required while surfing. By practicing single-leg exercises, you can enhance your overall balance and stability, making it easier to stay on your board when faced with challenging waves.


Yoga is a fantastic practice for surfers as it helps improve flexibility, strength, and balance. Through various poses and movements, yoga targets different muscle groups while simultaneously enhancing body awareness and control. Incorporating regular yoga sessions into your fitness routine can improve your overall balance and stability, allowing you to navigate the waves with greater ease.


Similar to yoga, Pilates is an excellent exercise for surfers to improve balance and stability. It focuses on core strength, flexibility, and overall body control. By engaging in Pilates exercises, such as the hundred or the side plank, you can develop a stronger core and better stability, which is essential for maintaining proper posture and balance while surfing.

Balance Board Training

Using a balance board is a specific training method that directly targets balance and stability. By standing on a balance board and performing various movements, you can challenge your equilibrium and develop greater stability. This type of training mimics the movements required while surfing, making it an effective practice to enhance your balance and overall surfing performance.

Cardiovascular Fitness

Surfing requires a good level of cardiovascular fitness to endure long sessions in the water and maintain energy levels throughout. Incorporating specific cardio exercises into your routine can improve your overall endurance and cardiovascular fitness.


Running is a popular cardio exercise that helps improve cardiovascular endurance. Whether you prefer jogging on a treadmill or running outdoors, consistent running sessions can increase your lung capacity and boost your stamina, allowing for longer and more enjoyable surf sessions.


Swimming is an excellent low-impact cardio exercise that engages the entire body while improving lung capacity and cardiovascular endurance. The repetitive movements involved in swimming help build stamina and increase aerobic capacity, directly benefiting your ability to paddle and maneuver on the water.


Cycling is another fantastic cardio exercise that can be easily incorporated into your routine. Whether you prefer cycling outdoors or using a stationary bike, regular cycling sessions can improve your cardiovascular fitness and leg strength. Additionally, cycling helps build endurance and stamina, which are crucial for sustained performance during surf sessions.


Flexibility is often overlooked but plays a crucial role in enhancing surfing performance. By improving flexibility, surfers can achieve a wider range of motion, prevent injuries, and execute maneuvers with greater fluidity. Incorporating specific flexibility exercises into your routine can greatly benefit your overall surfing ability.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching involves active movements that mimic surfing motions and engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. By incorporating dynamic stretching exercises into your warm-up routine, you can increase blood flow to the muscles and improve flexibility while preparing your body for the demands of surfing.


Yoga, as mentioned previously, is not only great for balance and stability but also for flexibility. The various poses and movements in yoga help stretch and lengthen the muscles, improving overall flexibility and range of motion. By regularly practicing yoga, you can increase your flexibility and enhance your ability to perform various surfing maneuvers.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release, is a technique that involves using a foam roller to target specific muscle groups and release tension. By rolling the foam roller along your muscles, you can increase blood flow and alleviate tightness or knots. Foam rolling regularly can help improve flexibility by releasing tight muscles and reducing the risk of injuries.

Core Strength

Core strength is essential for surfers as it provides stability and power during maneuvers and protects the lower back from injuries. Engaging in specific core-strengthening exercises can greatly enhance your overall surfing performance.


The plank is a simple yet highly effective exercise for developing core strength. By holding a static position, you engage your abdominal muscles, back muscles, and hip muscles, all of which play a crucial role in maintaining balance and stability. By regularly practicing plank exercises, you can strengthen your core and improve your ability to maintain control on the board.

Russian Twist

The Russian twist is a core-strengthening exercise that targets the obliques and abdominal muscles. By twisting your torso from side to side while maintaining a stable position, you can effectively engage the muscles that are important for rotational movements while surfing. Incorporating Russian twists into your routine can improve your core strength, allowing for greater power and control during maneuvers.

Leg Raises

Leg raises primarily target the lower abdominal muscles, which are essential for stability and control during surfing. By lying on your back and lifting your legs off the ground, you engage the muscles in your lower abdomen. Regularly performing leg raises can strengthen your core and improve your ability to maintain balance while riding the waves.

Medicine Ball Exercises

Medicine ball exercises, such as Russian twists with a medicine ball or medicine ball slams, are excellent for developing core strength and power. By incorporating medicine balls into your routine, you can engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously and build strength and stability in your core. These exercises closely mimic the rotational movements required while surfing, making them highly beneficial.

Endurance Training

Endurance training is crucial for surfers as it allows them to paddle for extended periods, endure long sessions in the water, and maintain energy levels throughout. Incorporating specific endurance exercises into your fitness routine can greatly improve your overall stamina and surfing performance.

Long Distance Paddling

To build endurance for paddling, incorporating long-distance paddling sessions into your routine is essential. By gradually increasing the distance over time, you can improve your paddling stamina and build the necessary endurance to handle longer surf sessions. It is important to focus on maintaining proper form while paddling to prevent strain or injuries.

Interval Training

Interval training involves alternating between periods of high-intensity exercise and periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. This type of training is highly effective for improving cardiovascular fitness and endurance. By incorporating interval training sessions, such as sprint intervals or circuit training, into your routine, you can boost your endurance and enhance your overall performance in the water.

Paddle-Specific Exercises

To better prepare for the demands of paddling and improve performance on the water, there are specific exercises that target the muscles used in paddling.

Resistance Band Exercises

Using resistance bands is an effective way to target the muscles involved in paddling. By attaching the resistance bands to a stationary object and performing pulling or rowing motions, you can engage the muscles of your back, shoulders, and arms. Regularly incorporating resistance band exercises into your routine can strengthen these muscles and improve your paddling power and efficiency.

Paddling on a SUP

Paddling on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is an excellent way to specifically train the muscles used in surfing. By mimicking the paddling motions on land using a SUP, you can strengthen the muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms while also improving your balance and coordination. Paddling on a SUP regularly can directly translate to improved paddling ability and overall performance in the water.

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are a dynamic exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the back, shoulders, and legs. By incorporating kettlebell swings into your routine, you can develop the explosive power needed for strong paddle strokes and generate power while riding the waves. Regularly practicing kettlebell swings can enhance your overall performance and paddling ability.

Explosive Power

Explosive power plays a significant role in certain surfing maneuvers, such as aerials or powerful turns. Incorporating exercises that specifically target explosive power can greatly enhance your ability to perform these maneuvers effectively.

Jump Squats

Jump squats are an explosive exercise that combines the lower body strength of squats with the power of jumping. By performing jump squats, you engage multiple muscle groups, including the quads, glutes, and calves, while training your body to generate explosive power. Regularly incorporating jump squats into your routine can improve your ability to launch off the waves and perform aerial maneuvers.

Box Jumps

Box jumps are another effective exercise for developing explosive power. By jumping onto a plyometric box or a raised platform, you engage your lower body muscles and train them to generate power quickly. Box jumps improve not only explosive power but also coordination and balance, all of which are crucial for performing dynamic maneuvers while surfing.


Burpees are a full-body exercise that combines strength training with cardiovascular fitness. By performing a sequence of movements, including a squat, a push-up, and a jump, you engage multiple muscle groups and develop explosive power. Regularly incorporating burpees into your routine can enhance your overall explosive power and improve your ability to perform powerful turns and maneuvers while surfing.

Injury Prevention

Surfing, like any other sport, carries a risk of injury. Incorporating specific exercises into your routine can help prevent common surfing injuries and keep your body in optimal condition.

Shoulder Exercises

The shoulders are one of the most commonly injured areas in surfing, particularly from repetitive paddling and overhead maneuvers. By incorporating shoulder exercises, such as shoulder press or lateral raises, into your routine, you can strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint and improve stability, reducing the risk of injuries.


Stretching is a crucial component of injury prevention and should be incorporated into every surfer’s fitness routine. By regularly stretching the muscles used while surfing, such as the hamstrings, hip flexors, and shoulder muscles, you can improve flexibility, prevent muscle imbalances, and reduce the risk of strains or sprains.

Foam Rolling

As mentioned before, foam rolling is an effective technique for releasing tension and promoting muscle recovery. By foam rolling regularly, you can alleviate muscle tightness, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of injuries caused by overuse or restricted mobility.


Cross-training involves engaging in different types of exercises or sports to improve overall fitness and prevent overuse injuries. By incorporating cross-training activities, such as swimming, cycling, or hiking, into your routine, you can target different muscle groups, improve cardiovascular fitness, and give your primary surfing muscles a chance to recover.

Surf-Specific Training

To further enhance your surfing performance, there are specific exercises that closely simulate the movements and demands of surfing.

Pop-Up Drills

Pop-up drills involve practicing the quick and precise movement of getting up from paddling on your board to standing on the surfboard. By practicing pop-up drills on land or in the water, you can improve your pop-up technique, speed, and coordination, making it easier to catch waves and improve overall surfing performance.

Indo Board Training

Indo Board training involves using a balance board that mimics the movements of a surfboard on water. By practicing balance and stability exercises on the Indo Board, you can improve your overall board control, balance, and coordination. Indo Board training is an effective way to enhance your surfing performance by strengthening the muscles used for maintaining balance on the water.

Surf Simulators

Surf simulators are specialized machines or equipment that aim to simulate the feeling and movement of riding a wave. By using surf simulators, you can practice your surfing technique and engage the relevant muscle groups while on land. Surf simulators are beneficial for developing muscle memory, improving balance, and enhancing your overall performance when you’re not able to access the water.

By incorporating a balanced approach of strength training, balance and stability exercises, cardiovascular fitness workouts, flexibility routines, core strength training, endurance training, paddle-specific exercises, explosive power exercises, injury prevention techniques, and surf-specific training into your fitness routine, you can greatly enhance your overall surfing performance. These exercises will improve your strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and coordination, allowing you to ride waves with greater confidence and control. Remember to always listen to your body, start with appropriate levels of intensity, and gradually increase the difficulty of the exercises as you progress. Enjoy your training journey and see you in the lineup!