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Top 3 exercises for surfers


So, you want to learn to surf? Rock on.

Did you know the first major surfing competition was held in Corona Del Mar, California in 1928? Since then, surfing has exploded as not only a sport but a way of life. Our beaches our packed with pros, killer novices and beginners. If you’re just beginning, choosing the right equipment, checking the conditions, and physical preparation can put you a step ahead.

First up, selecting the right surfboard is essential to optimizing performance. The appropriate equipment proves true in any sports activity. For example, in baseball, you need your glove to fit properly. You can’t expect to catch the ball with a glove that is sliding off your hand. Same goes for surfboards.

You can’t expect to be able to surf on a board not fitted to your weight or ability. Lighter boards are often suited for lighter people. Further, longboards are often recommended for beginners. They offer the stability and support needed when first starting out. I’d recommend checking out a local surf shop to further determine what style and size board best suits your needs.

Knowing the conditions prior to setting out is essential. Depending on your level and ability as a surfer, certain spots may be better suited. Always look up or ask around where is best suited for beginners, intermediate, or advanced surfers and how the conditions are before heading out into the water.

Practice, practice, practice. Not just on the board, but in the gym as well. A new surfboard and knowing what spots to check out is great, but that can all go amiss without first ensuring your fitness level is up to par.

Shoulder strength, core strength, and endurance are important for optimal surfing performance. Not only will it make the sport easier, but you will be able to enjoy it much more. Bonus: you are less likely to injure yourself by doing so. Many beginners suffer from shoulder injuries due to overuse. Paddling through currents to reach those waves can be tough work. Counteract the problem before it becomes a problem.

1. Shoulders

Free Weights: Simply mimicking the motion of paddling using weights in a gym setting can build shoulder strength and endurance.
Row: can be done in a gym setting using a pulley machine, or at home with the use of a resistance band. Sitting on an exercise ball, bench, or chair ensure the band is attached to something stable. Bend the elbows to 90 degrees and grasp the ends of the band in each hand. Slowly bring the elbows straight back. At the same time, pinch the shoulder blades down and in engaging the middle and lower trapezius muscles. Adjust resistance or weight accordingly. Do 10 repetitions for 2-3 sets. 


Reverse fly: can be performed from a standing position. Start with your feet hip-width apart. Bend forward at the waist, keeping a slight bend in your knees. With a weight in either hand and without locking the elbows, slowly extend your arms away from your body. Pinch your shoulder blades down and in throughout the movement. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets

2. Core

Core strength aids in balance and smoothness of movement on the surfboard. Exercises such as bicycle crunches and yes, the dreaded plank, can strengthen and prepare your core to take on the movements and balance necessary for surfing.

Bicycle crunches: target the upper and lower abdominal muscles. To begin, lie on your back on a mat. Bend your elbows and place your hands behind your head. Lift both legs off the ground, and bend one leg up toward your chest. Bring your opposite elbow to touch the opposite knee. Your shoulder blades should come off the ground during this movement. Alternate sides and do 10 repetitions for 2-3 sets.

Planks: can further strengthen the core, as well as certain arm and leg muscles. It is often referred to as a full body workout. Ensure your hands are directly under your shoulders, eyes stay on the floor in front, and that your core is engaged. An important tip to avoid any strain around the neck and shoulder region is to think about pulling your shoulders away from your ears. Your back should be straight throughout the exercise. Hold for your personal best. Often, the aim is 30 seconds to a minute. Side planks can further be useful in strengthening the oblique muscles.

Strengthening is crucial when it comes to preventing surfing injuries. You want to be in the proper physical condition to enjoy the sport and have fun! Always warm up prior to surfing or any workout. Muscles that are not warmed up properly are more prone to injury. Warming up increases blood flow to the joints and muscles to ensure optimal performance.

3. Endurance

Good old fashioned cardio my friends. Shoot for distance running or swimming. Mixing in sprints with runs will help to get your heart in shape and also prep you for when you need to paddle fast to catch that perfect wave.

Last tip: If you are new to surfing, it is highly recommended to invest in lessons first either with a professional or a friend that really knows his or her stuff.

Sure, you can learn as you go. But to avoid injury or unsafe conditions in accordance with individual skill level, taking instructions from someone who knows what they are doing is key. They will tell you all you need to know. From surfing conditions to form and how to get up on the board, they know it all. Learn from the best to become one of the best. Take the time to learn and build your surfing skills. Hit the gym and physically prepare yourself for what is many Californian’s favorite pastimes.


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