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Cross-Training For Surfing - Some Exercise To Help Your Surfing

Exploring Cross-Training for Surfing: Enhance Your Skills Beyond the Waves

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Surfing is a physically demanding sport at all levels.  The more surf-fit you are, the more you will get out of your sessions.  To perform at your peak it requires a great amount of aerobic fitness, strength, flexibility and agility.  Most surfers don't surf anywhere near as much as they want to (you'll even hear those that surf daily complain they haven't been surfing as much as they like!), and given that the best sport to improve your surfing is indeed surfing, it is good to have some other options at your disposal for times when you're not able to surf.  

At Blitz Surf Shop, nestled in the heart of New Zealand’s surf culture, we understand the importance of not only riding waves but also staying fit and agile to maximize your time in the water and perform at your own personal peak. 

So this blog is going to look at some good alternatives that you might be able to fit into your hectic modern lifestyle to assist you when you do get to go surfing.


Swimming: Building Endurance and Confidence

Surfing demands a lot from your cardiovascular system and overall endurance.  Most people that are not surfing regularly or have gaps in when they can surf complain of a lack of paddle fitness being their biggest hindrance to getting the most out of their surf.  Swimming is the closest thing you can do besides paddling to maintain or even improve your paddle fitness. Swimming laps in the pool or ocean can significantly boost your stamina, allowing you to paddle faster, further and for longer. It also strengthens muscles throughout your body, particularly your shoulders, arms and back, which are vital for paddling. It is also very important for surfers to be confident swimmers when they are in testing conditions and their leash snaps.  Every surfer should be able to at least swim 400m non-stop or they are putting themselves and others at risk.  Combine distance and sprints to mimic different parts of your paddling.  You may also want to include breath holds or hypoxic training to prepare yourself for inevitable hold downs.

Dare I say it, paddling a SUP or prone board can also provide a good amount of fitness crossover to surfing too.

Yoga: Finding Balance and Flexibility

Yoga figurine

Yoga isn’t just about striking poses; it’s about finding balance, both physically and mentally. For surfers, the benefits are manifold. Yoga helps improve flexibility, essential for those quick turns and maneuvers on the board. It enhances core strength, crucial for stability and control while riding waves. Moreover, yoga cultivates mindfulness and breath control, which can directly translate to better endurance and calm under pressure when catching that perfect wave.  Being flexible and strong also decreases the risk of injury.


Skateboarding: Mastering Balance and Coordination

Globe sponsored skateboarder doing an ollie over some stairs

Skateboarding isn’t just a hobby; it’s an awesome way to enhance your balance and coordination—skills that directly translate to surfing. The movements involved in skateboarding mimic those needed on a surfboard, such as shifting weight, balancing, negotiating terrain, carving turns, and maintaining stability at speed. Plus, it’s a fun way to stay active on land when the waves aren’t cooperating, helping you maintain muscle memory and agility until your next surf session.  Throw the super popular modern surfskates, like Carver Surfskates, into the mix that really mimic the action or surfing on land for those flat, onshore or landlocked days for that land surfing vibe.  Modern surfing has taken a lot of inspiration from skateboarding and vice versa so popping airs on a halfpipe is definitely not going to harm your surfing.

Snowboarding in some colder climates, and other board sports like surf lifesaving, kitesurfing, foiling, windsurfing can also have some element of crossover to surfing skills.  The more time you spend on your feet the better.

Strength Training: Powering Your Performance

Loaded olympic barbell

Building strength off the board can significantly impact your performance on it. Traditional strength training has its benefits so you can directly focus on strengthening muscles used in surfing.  Improving your strength through a good range of movement also helps prevent injury.  

To push yourself even harder try some form of HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training.  Think of modalities like Crossfit, F45, Hill Sprints, Boot Camps to not only improve your strength and power but also your endurance both aerobically and anaerobically.

Pilates: Enhancing Core Strength and Control

Similar to yoga, Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and controlled movements. For surfers, a strong core is not just about aesthetics; it’s about maintaining stability and balance on the board. Pilates exercises target deep core muscles that support your spine and pelvis, improving posture and overall body awareness. By honing these foundational skills on land, you’ll find yourself more confident and capable when facing the challenges of the surf.  Building your core strength and control can also help prevent injury.  Problems like back pain are exremely common in modern times and can put you out of the water for extended periods if it gets bad, surfers are not immune to back pain so stay strong and supple so you can stay in the water.

Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, Judo, Muay Thai etc

Israel Adesanya and Kelly Slater going surfing
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There's a lot to say for combat sports.  They build excellent fitness, skills, agility and mental toughness.  Lean up, get fit and face your fears.  There is a lot of body and spatial awareness learnt through these sports.  Strength, endurance and grit.

And hey, we don't condone violence at all, but you also don't want to ever be a victim because lets face it, there are surf spots around the world where trouble just seems to brew.  Sad but true.  When you're not at your local always be extra respectful and follow the unwritten rules of surfing so you shouldn't have to face any problems.  Fortunately here in New Zealand we're all a bunch of lovable chaps so your combat sports should just give you supreme fitness, agility, flexibility and power which has gotta help your surfing.


In Conclusion

At Blitz Surf Shop, we believe if you want to get the most out of every surf session you need to be physically and mentally prepared. This becomes imperative for those that are into chasing big waves.

Incorporating cross-training activities like yoga, swimming, skateboarding, strength training, and Pilates can not only enhance your physical fitness but also sharpen your mental focus and agility. Whether you’re a seasoned wave rider or a beginner surfer, exploring these complementary sports and exercises will undoubtedly help you achieve your surfing goals and make every session on the water count.

And don't forget, if you can't swim you shouldn't be surfing.  Go get in that pool and sort it out!


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