surfing foundation training
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Foundation Training

If you haven’t developed a program that suits you or still don’t think that you will benefit from one, you will change your mind within the first month of trying these training lessons out.

foundation training

In an age where almost everyone is an expert on physique, exercise, and health, it might become increasingly difficult to find a routine and a set of exercises that work for you when you are looking to straighten or develop your foundation. 

But that’s only half the battle. The reality is that now, more than ever, we are mostly slouched over desks and looking at screens for most of the day. 

It seems that there aren’t a lot of us left that don’t have a problem with our backs, hops, or some kind of limb limitation. 

As most surfers will tell you, that’s not a good way to live. You have to be in top physical condition in order to withstand the ocean and what it brings. 

No, this does not mean that you put every known supplement in order to ascend to levels unknown to humanity, but rather focusing on movement and activity.

Which Foundation Exercises Are Best?

The best exercises that you can do in order to straighten your foundation are exercises that you are willing and able to apply on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t matter if they're not popular exercises. 

The only thing that matters is that you are able to do them day in and day out. That being said, you will need to do some research in order to find out how your body will react to certain types of exercises. 

If you can’t move well, or if you are in any way limited by pains and strains, you are much more likely to give up and throw in the towel. 

In essence, creating a solid foundation for surfing is more of a lifestyle change than an exercise plan. You want to be able to get those exercises into your daily routine until they become second nature to you. 

Managing Injuries

Be mindful of past injuries or spots where you might be vulnerable, and try not to overextend them or overburden them. 

The most common injuries that can cause you setbacks and the back, shoulders, knees, hips, and neck. Make sure that you have all of those stretched out and ready to go before you start laying any kind of excess on them. 


One of the most important things when building or straightening a foundation is breathing. Yes, it might seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people just flat-out neglect this and kick it to the curb. 

Breathing impacts a lot of aspects of your exercises and daily routines—everything from oxygen flow to overall strength. You have to provide your body with the necessary respiratory activity in order for it to remain active and develop your muscles. 

Don’t overthink it, but don’t neglect it either. It’s not that hard—you’ve been doing it since day one. 

Be Active

Through foundation training, we are looking to build a frame that will be able to withstand the daily stress and hold its own against injuries and strains. The good news? You don’t have to block out three hours per day to make this happen. All you have to do is be consistent. 

The less active you are, the more your body will become prone to outside forces breaking it in. Building a foundation starts at the physical end of the spectrum, and it all revolves around your will. 

Trust the Process

surfer diet

Don’t expect to turn things around overnight; you have to trust the process and see it through. Over time you will find out which sets of movements work best for you and your body, and you will focus on those that will mix in a healthy dose of the exercises that will keep things interesting. 

One point of frequent neglect is the diet. No one can move towards building a good foundation on french fries and sugary drinks. They aren't forbidden or off-limits, but much like anything else, you will need to count and be aware of what and how much you are taking in. 

Resilience comes from maintaining a balance. When your foundation is well-rounded, you will immediately become a lot more confident on the surfboard, and the movements while riding waves will come about with much less pushback. 

You will be able to bend your knees and take a stance a lot easier. You will know how to decompress your chest and how to apply pressure on different parts of your heels without overdoing it. 

You will also develop a sense of nuance if you pay attention to how the exercises feel while you’re performing them and which parts of your body they are targeting. Are they something that you can pull off every day? 

Developing a Foundation Training Routine

No matter your age or what your skill level is, you should definitely look into a routine that will allow you to be at the top of your game at all times. It can be as time-consuming and taxing as you want it to be. The key to developing a strong core is consistency. 

Your program should be all-encompassing and well-rounded. Don’t just focus on one set of muscles or one part of the body. You’d be surprised how much your abs account for your overall stability. 


Let’s take a look at some exercises that you can incorporate into your workouts on your journey to developing a strong foundation. 


One of the most basic and well-known exercises that leads to a solid body foundation and memes to retain your flexibility is the bridge. This exercise is simple to do, and it provides support for your whole core. However, it also focuses on the glutes and the legs. 

In order to perform a bridge, lay on your back and bend your knees so that you can place your feet in parallel with your hips. Rest your arms by your sides on the floor and tighten your core. Start by raising your hips from the ground without the support of your arm and hold that position for about thirty seconds. 

Five reps of this should be more than enough to get you going. 


Probably one of the oldest and most effective exercises when it comes to core body strength is the crunch. In order to perform a successful crunch, you have to let your body do most of the work and not rely on momentum to make the exercise easier. 

When doing crunches, it’s crucial to protect your back at all times. If you don’t have a yoga mat or a soft surface, you place your hands on your back so that you are not making contact with a hard surface below. 

If you have had problems with your back before or have chronic back pain, you should see a certified physician before establishing the way that you are doing your crunches. 

In most cases, you will want to lie down on your back, place your legs in parallel with your hips and have your head in line with your spine. Cross your arms at the chest and start pulling yourself upward while keeping your shoulders and neck as relaxed as possible. 

Keep in mind that your chin has to be tucked in in order to keep your neck from stringing. 

Do eight to ten reps before you take a short one-minute break.  

Supine Toe Tap

The supine toe tap is one of the best exercises that isn’t too difficult to do and engages your core muscles, as well as your glutes, legs, and hips. 

Toe taps are great because they do not put a lot of pressure on your spin, so they work well in combination with crunches. 

Lay on your back and slowly raise your legs. Once your legs are in the air, bend them at the knees at an angle of ninety degrees. 

Your hand should be at your sides, face down. Engage your core and slowly bring one foot down until you tap the floor with your toe. Hold that position for a moment, keep your other leg flat, and then bring the tapping leg back up. Alternate the legs and do a set of ten to twelve reps each.

Bird Dog

The bird dog is an excellent exercise that works both your front and back core muscles. By adding it to your routine, you will develop a strong and balanced core. 

Get down on all fours with your hands below your shoulders, and place your knees below the hips. Then simultaneously raise your left leg and right arm until they are fully extended. Slowly bring them down and alternate the move by extending the left arm and right leg. 

Keep in mind that your spine should be neutral throughout, and your back should be straight. Do one set of ten extensions before you move on to the next exercise.  

Bicycle Crunch

The bicycle crunch is basically a crunch that involves a rotation. Lift your legs up and bend them at a ninety-degree angle at the knees and put your hands behind your head.  You want to go up and rotate so that your left elbow makes contact with your right knee. Once it does, come back down and alternate the movement to the opposite elbow and knee. 

Be mindful not to pull your neck while extending and retracting. Keep your shoulders nice and relaxed, and do three sets of a dozen in total. 


The plank is probably the most utilized and popular core exercise on the planet at the moment. It’s a simple exercise that works your entire core. If you incorporate it into your daily workout, you're bound to notice a straightening in your shoulders, back, legs and glutes. 

Get down on all fours. Keep your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. From this position, simply extend your legs back and hold the position for thirty seconds before giving yourself a rest. 

You can also bring your elbows to the floor in order to make the exercise a pie easier when you are starting out. 

Three to five reps should do just fine.

Warrior Crunch

The warrior crunch is another interesting variation on the crunch that will keep your core strong and leveled. Besides working the core, the exercise is excellent for developing the lower body. It targets the glutes and quads so that you have apple support when you are on the boards in the middle of the ocean. 

Take a stance where your feet are slightly wider apart than your shoulders and turn your toes outward. Place both of your hands behind your head and tighten your core. 

From here move and bend your knees up until your thighs are placed parallel to the floor. Turn your torso to the side and slide your right elbow to your left thigh. 

Hold that for a moment, move back into the starting position, and then switch to the other elbow.

Perform one set of ten to twelve reps before moving on.

Bird Dog

The bird dod is an exercise that can be performed in many different ways. One of the most popular uses of the exercise is when the basic bid dog is combined with a rotating motion that engages the abdomen in order to add more pressure to the core. 

Get down on all fours and place your hands below your shoulders and keep your knees behind your hip line. From here, you want to move your right leg up to your hips and, at the same time, extend your right hand up to your shoulder. 

Throughout the exercises, focus on your core and when it’s impacted most. After that, move your opposite elbow and knee in the same manner. 

One set of twelve reps is enough for starters, but feel free to build on this number when you get the hang of the exercise. 

Mountain Climber

One of the absolute go-to exercises when it comes to core straight, the mountain climber is an exercise that is sure to take you through your paces. It is perfect for improving core straight while retaining flexibility. 

Start off by getting your body in a position for a plank exercise. Keep your core tight and lift your right knee up towards your chest. Keep in mind that your back has to be straight, and your neck should be relaxed. Once you reach the full sweep on the movement, bring the leg down to its starting position and do the same with the other leg. You might want to go very fast when doing this exercise, but it’s best to keep a steady pace throughout. Alternate your legs for a set of a dozen before moving on to the next exercise. 

Side Plank

The side plank is a variation on the regular plank exercises, but it’s a bit more difficult to pull off because it usually involves a rotation movement as well. Once you feel like the regular plank exercise is dialed in, you can move on to the side plank rotation exercise and target your shoulders and core at the same time. 

To start off, lie down on one side and place your forearm below your shoulder. From here you will want to place one of your legs over the other in an extended position. 

Now, start lifting your lips while you are raising your arm straight up. Once you are in motion, you will need to rotate your body. A set of a dozen reps should be enough to work your core just right. 

Turkish Get-up

This is a great exercise that targets the spine and the mobility in your lower body, most notably the hips. Even though the exercise is focused on the spine, it also works on the shoulders and abs as well. 

The exercise is usually done with weights, but you can start off without any so that you can get the movements down quicker. 

Get on your back with your legs extended straight and your arms by you at a 45-degree angle. Once in position, start bending your right leg until it reaches your glutes. From here, move your right arm upwards. 

It’s important to keep your hand in line with your shoulder. Make a push with your right heel and start to get into a climbing motion. Remember to keep your right hand fully extended and pointed at the sky at all times.

Once you push yourself into a semi-seated position, pause and rise once again so that you can stand up. When you are up, make the same movements back in reverse and get back on the ground. From here, switch the sides, and take the weight in the left hand if you are incorporating weights. 

A good place to start is three to five reps.

Focus Points

The focus points remain on your trunk and hips, but everything ties in together. The muscles support each other and take the load from each other when one group of muscles is overly strained. 

Once you have your core balance and feel pretty stable, you can start adding some reps to the exercises targeting your pelvis, lower back muscles, abs, and hips.  

When you get all of them working in sync, you will start feeling a rejuvenation on all fronts. 

This is not just surf-related, your lifestyle will improve, and you will be able to build your foundation even further. 

There is a misconception floating around that you cannot develop a strong and balanced core without the help of external weights and equipment. This is absolutely not true, as your body weight is enough to provide you with all the pushback that you require in order to improve your core. 

There is a lot that you can do by simply investing in a fitness ball. Because the ball is never perfectly balanced, it will always challenge your muscles to compensate in order to keep you balanced. 

When you think about it, that’s exactly what you are doing while balancing your act on your surfboard. But this time around, you truly are in complete control of everything. 

Multi-Purpose Exercises 

Look to incorporate exercises that complement each other and that coordinate different muscle types. Seek out exercises that target both your back and abs. 

One of the most popular exercises that target a ton of muscles and can be done virtually at any time is the plank exercise. 

This exercise has a lot of variations in itself, so it’s very versatile. You are able to do a full core body workout simply by changing the positions of the plank. 

Know the Human Body

One of the most important aspects of developing a solid core and building a good foundation is knowing the human body and how it functions. 

Of course, there is no set answer here because we are all different, but there are overarching things that ring true for most. Know which movements are riskier than others. 

If you experience pain at certain spots, make sure that you look up how your joints and muscles are coming together and connected at those points. If you are experiencing excessive pain, consult a professional. 

Never take things into your own hands when you don’t know what you are doing. One wrong movement can cost you a big setback or a nagging injury down the line. 

Muscle Groups

In order to grow a great foundation, you will have to target different muscle groups strategically. 

You shouldn’t hit on all of your muscle groups all the time. 

This does not allow the muscles to recover, and you will end up crippling their growth. Make sure that you are giving the muscle group that you have put stress upon at least 48 hours to recover. 

Consider Physical Therapy

In some cases, you will need to undergo physical therapy before you will be able to up your reps and weights. Luckily, a lot of surf therapy has to do with water because the relationship that water has with gravity makes it a lot easier on the joints. 

Seek out a solid massage therapist that will allow you to make progress on your own time. Don’t fall for those programs that promise quick results at record times. They usually aren’t as thorough and will leave a lot of holes that will show up sooner or later. You don’t want to visit a self-proclaimed savant in therapy fresh out of chiropractic school who ends up breaking your rib cage.

There are a lot of riders dealing with chronic pain that limit their body movements, especially when it comes to the anterior pelvic tilt and the posterior muscle chain. Hobbyist surfers also tend to suffer from back problems due to sitting at a desk all day. 

That’s why it’s very important to develop habits where you work out different muscle groups and relieve tension while preventing injuries.

A Few Words Before You Go… 

Developing a strong core and foundation is key for your success on the surfboard and in life in general. If you haven’t developed a program that suits you or still don’t think that you will benefit from one, you will change your mind within the first month of trying it out. 

If you are limited in any way and if you are experiencing pain in your hip joints or back pain, start by changing your movement patterns and consult a therapist. They will most likely assign you specific exercises that will correct your modern lifestyle. 

In a few months, your workout routine will allow for the correct alignment of your core and back muscles. Remember that even Olympic athletes have completely changed the way that they apply pressure to their body muscles in order to minimize negative effects within a short period of time.

Written by
Jeremy Dean
surf coaching