How to Get in Shape for Surfing

Fitness, Kitesurfing, Tips, Watersports -

How to Get in Shape for Surfing

Surfing requires the reaction of many more muscles than your average sport, making it one of the most demanding forms of exercise out there. General strength in the water is a must, as paddling out is just the beginning of your workout. We haven’t even touched on riding the wave, let alone how your body copes when being wiped out by a big set!

Exhaustion not only comes from physical activity but also from the mental application needed while surfing. Of course, with many activities, the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ goes a long way. However, when King Neptune isn’t on your side, decent waves can’t always be guaranteed. Fortunately, there are many ways you can work on your surfing fitness outside the water.

The great thing about the activities we are about to share is that many of them can be completed at home. Basic exercises are key to surf fitness and can be incorporated with other movements to provide a more challenging workout. All of these exercises apply to kitesurfing and paddleboarding too.

Birds-eye view of two sup boarders riding a blue wave.

Practice the Pop-Up

To ride a wave at its best, you need to be able to get up quickly. Of course, the best way to smooth out bad habits is to practise as much as possible in the sea. However, practising your pop up on dry land will strengthen your arms, legs and create muscle memory for when you are in the water. Getting your pop up to a sleek, singular movement is the aim. Try completing 20 a day where possible, or if you are super keen, create a fast pop up/burpy exercise to incorporate into your fitness routine.

Core Exercises For Kitesurfers

A strong core is essential to kitesurfing, especially for balance. There are many basic exercises out there which engage the core. A reliable place to start is with the basic plank, which conveniently can be practised anywhere.

There are variations of this exercise which are dependent on your ability, but a great place to begin is the forearm plank. Lying face down, lift your body, with your forearms on the ground, tightening your core. Your forearms and toes should be the only two points of contact with the floor. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Over time, and after much practice, the goal is to reach two-three minutes.

Benefits of Upper Body Work Outs for Kitesurfing

So much of your time in the sea consists of using your shoulders and arms. A strong upper body will allow you to have much finer control over the kite while it’s in the air, helping you to achieve more on the waves. Paddleboarders require strong arms, while surfers also benefit from increased balance.

Out of the water, maintaining your upper body strength can be achieved through some simple push-ups. Begin with two sets of 10 and try to progress to 50 over time. Add claps between each push up for an extra strength-producing exercise.

Strengthening Your Lower Body

Building strength in your legs also greatly benefits your balance, reducing the likelihood of falling off your board. On top of balance, lower body strength also created a great level of control. It is useful for applying speed to the board, along with moves like carving and turning.

Squats are a great way to reinforce your legs, and these can be in any variation. Including jumps is a great way to add cardio into your routine. A valuable form of squat for surfers is known as the board twist. This exercise begins with slightly bent knees and proper posture. Jump and turn 180 degrees. Once you have landed the opposite side, return slowly to a squat position. This exercise should be completed in three sets of six.


Unsurprisingly, confidence in your swimming ability is vital in improving your ability in watersports. To replicate a similar motion to paddling, practise front crawl in the ideal style of swimming to increase your shoulder and arm strength. Not only does it improve your strength, but swimming is also an excellent form of cardio, which is especially useful when being plunged underwater during a wipeout.

Swimming for at least 20 minutes a few times a week is recommended to get the most from it. A simple way of progressing your swimming is the pyramid technique. Begin with a length of the pool and rest. Then do two lengths and rest. Continue you this to your desired amount of lengths and then work your way back down in the same fashion.

Yoga for Kitesurfers

To retain our fitness, keeping our muscles supple and healthy is vital. However, the significance of flexibility is only remembered after we suffer an injury. It is estimated that by adulthood, our muscles become less flexible due to the decrease of moisture substance in our tissue by 15%. As a result, the less we keep on top of limbering our muscles, the risk of injury is more prevalent. Stretching is something as kitesurfers we should definitely incorporate into our lifestyle as our muscles are constantly under strain!

Introducing yoga into your general exercise routine can have impressive effects with regards to muscle suppleness. Looking up basic yoga stretches is a great start. Attending a local yoga class is an even better decision, as you can be coached by an expert. If you do decide to try at home, it is important to hold stretches for 90 to 120 seconds to ensure your effort is most effective.

Four men stood with foil boards on the beach.

Hopefully, we have supplied you with some fitness ideas for when the wind is flat. To get some visual inspiration, discover where you can find the most inspirational action shots in our blog, six kitesurfing photographers to follow on Instagram. If you are interested in discovering the sport of kitesurfing, take a look at our range of surf kites for some motivation.