How to Stay Fit


Although the act of actually riding waves is obviously the best thing for your surfing, there are a myriad of different exercise routines practiced by surfers in an effort to step up their game in the water. To find out what works for those placing themselves in some of the most physically demanding surf on the North Shore, we spoke with Kauai-native-turned-Oahu transplant JD Irons:

Within the past year we’ve started a pretty solid workout routine at the Volcom House. KaiBorg leads the workout and there’s usually between eight and 16 people in the group. It’s basically a CrossFit routine that we do about three times a week. It’s a high-intensity workout that utilizes your own body weight to get you fit. So there’s a lot of sprinting, push-ups, sit-ups, stuff like that. The point is to get your heart rate up and keep it there while you’re working out. The whole routine should only take about 40 to 45 minutes. Here’s a sample workout that we do four sets of, with little or no break between exercises:


3 years ago

"...the whole routine should only take about 40 to 45 minutes. Here’s a sample workout that we do four sets of, with little or no break between exercises:

100 jump ropes

100 jumping jacks

30 pushups

30 situps

15 step-ups

10 burpies

¼-mile run."

That's a good workout. Simple, yet torturous. Anyone else?

3 years ago

The focus for me is on the back and shoulders as far as actually training for surfing. The workout they give looks like a good one when you're traveling, but you could drop the pushups and add pullups and it would hit more of the muscle you actually use paddling.

3 years ago

Yeah, I would add some pull ups but keep the pushups too; they're good for the muscles you use to pop up. Also, instead of jumping the rope, I wrap a rope around my pullup bar a couple times to create some friction and then pull each end down to each side over and over. I find it mimics the swimming/paddling movement pretty well.

King of Kooks
3 years ago

Swimming laps w pull buoy (no kicking...upper body only) while holding breath as long as possible. That's all.

3 years ago

The screen grab on the youtube vid I was trying to post would have sidetracked a good discussion.

3 years ago

Eating 3 cheesy Gordita's with a side of mountain dew to ofset the food coma...

3 years ago

"Eating 3 cheesy Gordita's with a side of mountain dew to ofset the food coma..." and 90 degree push ups!

3 years ago

40 minute Ocean Beach paddle through sheets of white water.

3 years ago

i like the Volcom program, but as mentioned they developed it for the HI centric surfers.

i think we should make a similar group and develop an OB training program, specifically focused on simulating the experience of paddling out / surfing OB on the big days. here's my rough draft:

{swim 1 length of pool. when you reach the wall, get out of pool, hold breath and roll around on the groud violently for 5 - 10 seconds, then jump back in pool} repeat X 20

{do 25 push ups, 25 squat jumps, 25 sit ups} repeat X 3

{swim 1 length of pool. when you reach the wall, get out of pool, hold breath and roll around on the groud violently for 5 - 10 seconds, then jump back in pool} repeat X 10

and done.

3 years ago

Good on you all.

Went the "DIY" CrossFit @ home route some years ago and haven't looked back... soloflex now rusting in basement.

3 years ago

Post-script: recently started doing blindfolded indo board work. Freaky how much visual cues effect balance... for me anyway. Anyone else?

3 years ago

Go surf, thats my secret exercise

3 years ago

@dakota, I hear you on the lack of visual cues adversely affecting balance. During my workouts, I do some yoga-esque kind of stretching where I am balancing on one foot and if I close my eyes, it makes it significantly harder. Really causes the stabilizer muscles in my feet and calves to kick-in. After a week or so of closing my eyes, I am less wobbly and don't need to over-correct so much. The next level of difficulty is to close your eyes and stand on your toes & ball of your foot.

3 years ago

I fly to Hawaii in the morning. Good thing I've been doing the Gordita routine for the past couple of months...

3 years ago

Dear SR Crew,

Let me just say that I couldn't help noticing all the comments regarding this topic of training. I think it's great. It tells me there's an interest in training for surfing out there. I practice orthopedic Physical Therapy, with an emphasis on rehabing athletes getting back to their sport. People at the beach ask me all the time, "what should I do to train for surfing?" I usually respond with a comment like, "well, how long do you want to hear me speak?"

Most of these articles that come out in surfing magazines (or are found online) are very general, and old-school to say the least. The fact that people are still advocating sit-ups makes me frustrated. It's just a very lame, one dimensional way of training for a sport (surfing) that requires multi-planar movement; it's not doing a lot to make you a better surfer or prevent injury. Sure, the people doing them at Pipe might advocate them and say they help - let's face it, those guys are in shape and surf well to begin with. In my mind, that protocol for surf training is simply sad.

I've been thinking now that I'd create a free website advocating surfing-related fitness. I'd be showing surf-specific exercises that actually would help prevent most surfing pain-issues, as well as make you a better surfer. I was just unsure of the interest out there. Is anyone opposed to me doing this? Any feedback would be appreciated as well!


3 years ago


Agree that there is tons of new training techniques out there. For example, Surfline has a GREAT article by Tim Brown on how to train shoulders and backs. He basically says that if you don't have range of motion and support it is pointless (and possibly harmful) to jump into an exercise routine. Plyometrics, core exercises, surf-integrated yoga, all have something to offer as a dry land alternative to or preparation for surfing. I'd be interested in seeing anything you come up with.

I find for straight paddling strength and stamina, a Total Gym (you know, Chuck Norris's baby) is the closest I've come to the real deal. I scored one cheap and do lat pulldowns on it until I get bored.

3 years ago

Wobblyknees that sounds like a good idea especially for aging surfers, you could break it down by age. I started doing lower back exercises after severely strained my lower back mid drop on a few feet OH day. I looked around for ways to strengthen my lower back but could not find anything specifically geared towards surfing.

3 years ago

@Sticker/@Surfmax - There is no better training for surfing than surfing.

@Wobbly - oh hells yes. And I'm sure there are plenty of resources available here to help you get a site up if you need help.

I've cobbled together a cross-training routine from Yoga For Surfers, some exercises I saw Taylor Knox doing on Surfline, and Laird's book, plus random shit I see people do at the gym.

I find that arms and shoulder work is fun and all, but 30+ years of surfing has those parts trained up just fine. Core and leg-work, on the other hand, have helped me IMMENSELY. Can't say enough about strengthening your legs and bending those knees. I also try to do as much as possible on an inverted Bosu ball or something else unstable for balance.

Also: bacon.

3 years ago

What I do is ... ah fuck, who am I kidding? I haven't even had time to go surfing in the last month.

3 years ago

Wobbly that would be super helpful.

Was holding off on this to not derail the thread, but the broom exercise in this looks like an excellent one (it's worth doing it if you don't have a dip station).

3 years ago

zappa, I think you nailed it.
I added it to my repertoire.

3 years ago

To each his own, but I have been using a program called "Total Surfing Fitness" from a guy in Australia and it has made a tremendous difference. He provides a ton of free tips that are really good. For a middle aged tech worker returning to surfing after raising a family, let's just say that it was not pretty. But by including his program and tips in my my own mix of exercises I transfomed my surfing from "meh..." to "yeah"
I still suck, but I catch a lot more waves and have more fun, and that is what we are about isn't it? I will be forever grateful to Clayton Beatty. I cannot say enough good things about TSF....

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