Your passion is surfing.
Not working a job you hate for hours on end so you can pay for a gym to get in better surf shape (and have less time to surf).
Like many hardcore surfers, you chose to live on a budget so you can dedicate maximum time to riding waves.
You want to stay surf fit, and there are some exercises or routines you can perform on dry land, right on the beach or in your own garage gym. And since you are on a budget, they must be cheap. Or free.
And preferably on the beach, during a flat spell, if possible.
With that said, let’s dive in!
1. Loosen up!
Surfers are prone to tight hips.
Straddling a board for a while, waiting for that perfect wave is kinda like sitting at a desk, in front of the computer, at least as far as the hips are concerned. With the legs in a seated position, the hip flexor muscles shorten and get tighter.
What’s one solution?
Engage in Hip Flexion, your injury prevention friend. Hip flexion means stretching the hip flexors, and it’s pretty easy to do. Here is one move you can do while keeping your toes in the sand, no equipment needed.
Stand with one foot as far behind you as is comfortable, digging your toe into the sand.
Plant the other foot in front of you, with the knee bent at a right degree angle. Bend that knee as low as is comfortable. Some folks like to stretch their arms in the air or even stretched behind. This is optional, but will stretch core muscles.
Why this move?
This move opens the hips, stretches the hip flexor muscles, and counteracts the effects of straddling the board for long periods of time.
2. Surf Shoulder
If you’ve been surfing for a while it’s likely you or some one you know has experienced shoulder pain or injury. Rotator cuff injury is common among surfers because they use the shoulder heavily when furiously paddling to catch waves.
Paddling in pain is simply naff.
There are things you can do to stretch and strengthen the rotator cuff. Here are a few moves to get you started.
Find a door, corner or two poles, door width apart, maybe at the snack shack of your favorite surf spot?
Stand with one foot between the doorposts, with elbows at your side, and palms planted flat on the doorpost.
Lean forward and you will notice the stretch in your shoulders and chest. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and do it again 10 times. Repeat the move, with your hands placed a little higher each time for a complete stretch.
Internal rotator cuff exercise
Grab a resistance band or latex tube (find one in a home improvement store or pharmacy).
Tie one end into a loop to make a handle.
Tie the other end to any fixed object at elbow height. You could also make a loop at the other end and hook it to the fixed object.
Stand next to the fixed object with your arm bent at a 90 degree angle, elbow to your side.
Pull your arm in front of you so your forearm is lying horizontally across your abs. Your elbow should remain at your side and stay in the 90 degree bent position. It is only your forearm that moves, working the internal rotator cuff.
You can use the same band, in the same position, to work the external rotator cuff.
External rotator cuff exercise
Simply turn around and face the opposite direction so the fixed object is on the other side of you and the band will be across your torso.
Using the same hand as before move the band and your forearm out away from your body. You elbow stays at your side, and bent at 90 degrees.
3. Power up your Pop up
Plyometrics is a fancy pants name for using max force with max speed.
Picture a box jump.
In order to land on top of the box and avoid wrecking your shin on the edge, you must use your thigh muscles max strength, and you must do it fast or you won’t get high enough to clear the box.
This is Plyometrics training and it is important for surfers to perform a quick, explosive pop-up.
You don’t necessarily need a box, just any flat platform about 18” high that you can jump up onto. It depends on your surf spot. I have an area at the edge of the parking lot I can do them.
Get creative. You could substitute jumping over a large log or something like that. Any high jump is plyometric. Work with what you have available.
You can find a patch of grass, or do this right on the edge of the surf. They work the whole body, increase jump speed and strength.
If you really want to get crazy, combine the burpee with a box jump at the end of the move instead of a jump up.
Endurance is hugely important for a surfer, a real surfer who wants to stay in the drink all day.
Just Do It
It seems obvious, but one of the easiest ways to build surf endurance is to surf. Get out there, right?
Even if there are no waves, get out there and paddle, move around. This is the most sport specific stamina training you have available.
For Land Locked moments
Sadly you can’t always be in the ocean, but there are a few things you can do to build endurance away from the sea.
Swimming is a decent approximation if you have access to a pool.
Jogging, jump rope and heck, even jumping jacks build cardio endurance.
5. Core Balance and stabilization
This area is one where it is massively beneficial to practice while on dry land.
Waiting until you are up riding the board to strengthen core muscles is the wrong way to go about it. It is best to have a strong core, so that when you do get the chance to ride a wave, you can sustain it.
One cheap-O idea is brilliant for its simplicity and realistic, as it mimics the movement you encounter on the wave.
Make a DIY Indo Board. All you need is a sturdy piece of ¾ inch plywood, a section of PVC pipe and a few rubber couplings – all found in a home improvement store. Some folks also use skate board decks.
An Indo board is the closest thing to surfing this side of the ocean. It mimics the mechanics of surfing, and strengthens core and stabilizing muscles.
And the best benefit:
You don’t need to wait for killer waves to ride and strengthen your core muscles.
You can get them in shape, and keep them in shape between surf sessions, so when you finally do get your big break, you are ready.
Remember that whatever you do, keep it simple. Complicated routines that need special equipment not only take away from your surf time and budget, but the more complicated they are, the less likely you will do them as it seems like too much trouble.
This article was written by Michael from Garage Gym Power. Michael is a surfer and fitness enthusiast based in Portugal. He created Garage Gym Power to help encourage more people to keep fit at home.