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How to Train for Surfing

We cover everything you need to know in order to make your surf training sessions more efficient and enjoyable. We also recommend some exercises that are sure to take you to the next level.

There are a million and one ways that you can go about training when it comes to improving your surfing technique, keeping in shape, and unlocking that next balance level. That being said there are also a million and one ways to train wrong, develop bad habits, and even cause injury. So, how do you go about surf training? The most obvious training scheme for bettering yourself in surfing is… Well, surfing. But not without a few pointers here and there.

Surf Training

You will make the most progress if you are faced with the real thing, but there’s a slew of exercises and programs that will make you as ready as can be when you hit the waves.

At OMBE surf, we have a roster of highly accomplished surfers and a program that will get you from the shore and onto the waves in no time. Take a look at some of the offers here

You can become good at surfing without killing yourself to get there. Yes, it takes a great deal of consistency and dedication, but you also have to have joy in the surf workouts. 

Make the Most Out of Your Surf Session 

If you are putting yourself through the wringer in order to become the best surfer in the least amount of time, there is a real chance that surfing may lose its magic for you because you will start associating with something that you don’t really want to do. 

This is why a regime of about three surfing sessions per week is a great place to start. You’re not setting the bar too high, but you are also holding yourself accountable and building a system that can carry you forward. Every surf session should build on the one before it.

We’ll let you in on a little secret: in order to become a pro surfer or a surfer that is comfortable and confident, you will need to keep surfing and training for years. 

Yes, it might sound daunting, but the trick is to keep your eye on the journey, not the destination. 

Before you set your weekly schedule, you will want to cover a couple of bases that will give you the best chance of ascending when you hit the waves. 

Surf Fitness 

The first thing that you should take care of is your fitness. If you aren’t in shape, you won’t be able to go through a complete surfing session when you get to the ocean—it’s as simple as that. 

There are many ways which you can go when it comes to getting fit and in shape. You can make your own program that follows your own pace and start off with simple mobility drills or let a professional handle the fitness department for you so you can focus on surfing. This doesn’t mean that you will need to hire a personal trainer on the spot. 

Nevertheless, try to give yourself the best chance at building a solid foundation. If you can afford it, by all means, go with a personal trainer. Your foundation and habits are the most important thing. What you invest now will pay off in dividends in the future. 

Remember you should have enough wind in you to do the cooling down exercises after the surfing session as well, so you never want to be running on a completely empty tank. 

Most of the exercises we’ve compiled are derived from some of the most popular exercises when it comes to developing the core and legs. So, expect to be doing a lot of lunges in combination with squats at different stances. 

You want to build on your confidence, not tear it down. Remember that fatigue makes cowards of us all. 

Once you catch the surfing bug, the problem isn’t going to be you burning out from surfing but rather finding more ways and time to surf. You can’t slip on a pair of sandals and just go for the ocean every time. This is why you can have a combination of exercises that will approximate what your body is going through when you are on the board. 

You don’t want to lift super heavy and add a lot of weight to your body because you still want to be flexible and nimble. You’re not training to win a bodybuilding competition; you’re training to make your body a lean, mean surfing machine. 


Exercises where you utilize your own bodyweight are more than enough to keep you in pristine condition for your surf trip. 

Some good ol’ pushups and pull-ups will do wonders for your pop up explosiveness and paddling. Mimic the motions that you will be doing while on the wave. 

Create an environment that will replicate the balances and imbalances of the ocean and go for it. Let’s take a look at some exercises that will get you going. 

TRX Rows

A great exercise that will surely help in the real world is the bodyweight row, also known as the TRX Row. You are basically pulling yourself at certain angles. 

You don’t need any fancy equipment to make this one work. A simple exercise band is perfect for mastering the bodyweight row. 

Simply throw the band over the top of a door and get rowing. Start by doing three sets of fifteen to twenty reps each and see how your body feels. If the resistance isn’t enough to challenge you, you can always have an extra exercise band to make things more difficult. 

Exercise Band Rotations

Exercise bands are ideal for surf training because they do not have a firm or established angle to them, so they won't stiffen you up and will keep developing your smaller muscles that hold your larger muscles in place. 

There are hundreds of exercises that you are able to go through here. You can start off by going for lateral movements by pulling the band sideways. You can do this by fixating it on a closed door just above the doorknob. 

Remember all of the band exercises should be done on the side of the door that keeps it shut. You don’t want to be pulling the door open with your movements. Even so, always double-check if the grip on the band is good before you start going for the rotating motions. 

Just as with the TRX rows, do three sets of fifteen reps and then switch the band up. You want to have it at different angles. 

You can fix it below the doors, have it come up from under your legs and pull from there, or you can go down on your knees and have a more straight angle to the motion. If you can, go through a couple of placement variations as opposed to more reps in one placement. 

Single Leg Balance Reach

Never forget that it all starts and ends with your legs. Yes, your core is the most important part of your body when it comes to balance, but if your legs aren’t strong enough, your core balance will suffer because… Well, the core is on the legs. 

The single leg reach is a simple exercise that you can do at the beginning or the end of your sessions. 

Simply stand on one leg and reach out with your arms in different directions at a time. This will help you with your balance when you’re in the ocean, and you pick one leg up so that you can move it on the board. 

You can make this exercise more challenging on yourself by moving up and down at the same time as you are turning your arms to the side. 

Three sets of ten reps is enough for this one because you don’t want to put a lot of strain on your legs before or after the workout. 

Rear Foot Squat

The rear foot elevated squat can be seen as an extension of the single  leg balance reach. Once you start moving up and down and retaining your balance, you can try going all the way down on one leg. Once you start doing these exercises, your lower body strength will rise to a whole new level. 

If you want to make things difficult on yourself, pick a barbell or some dumbbells while you’re going through the motions. Just don’t forget to move the barbell during the sets so that you work on your flexibility, balance, and durability at the same time. 

You can start off by doing four sets of five reps on each leg.

Squat Jumps

A squat jump is an excellent exercise that will develop your explosiveness and lower body strength. You want to have your feet square with your shoulders so that you have maximum control over your motions. 

From here, go down into a squat with your heads reaching backward. Once you reach the high mass point of your squat, explode upwards and bring your hands from your back to the front in a swinging motion. 

You can start by doing these exercises on a flat surface, but you can also make it more challenging by incorporating some stairs or a surface that is higher than the ground level so that you can jump on it from your squat.  

This will do wonders for all the high-maintenance areas of the body. You will be walking out with stronger hips, joints, and knees.

Keep these exercises at a nice five sets of five reps each until you feel that you can deal with more reps and still have enough left in the tank to do for a surf. 

Upper Body Development

Even though the lower body should be the focal point of your training sessions, you mustn’t forget to develop the upper body as well. 

You will never be able to reach your peak core form without a strong upper body. Here are some of the best upper body exercises that you can begin with.


The BOSU ball is one of the most utilized exercise props in all sports. Because this ball makes for an uneven and unbalanced surface, it hits all of the muscles and areas that need strengthening when you are on the board and facing commotion. 

While you are on it, go through the motions that you will be going through when you’re doing your pop ups, for instance. We’ve explained plenty of exercises with the BOSU ball in our dedicated guide, so make sure to check it out for the whole picture.

By making use of the BOSU ball, your core should become firm and stable. 

A Few Words Before You Go…

Beginner surfers will want to focus on developing athletic ability. They can enroll in a surf camp or hire an indoor surfing trainer that will help them with everything from their overall athletic ability, surfing demands, injury prevention, and lower, core, and upper body strength.

The important part here is to find a system that works for you and go the distance. There are a lot of exercises and ways in which you can become a pro-level surfer, but if you don’t do them consistently, you won’t be able to reach your goals, no matter which program you go for.  

Train smart and train hard; we’ll be seeing you on the reef.

Written by
Nico Palacios
surf coaching