Surfing is not only a fun sport and pastime – it’s also a great way to help you keep fit. But before you get in the water for the first time, here are a few bits of advice on surfing fitness.
Be reasonably fit before you start. You don’t want to be out on the waves and suddenly run out of wind because you lack the proper conditioning. Although you should start surfing under supervision and in a safe surf spot, you’re going to need a certain level of endurance, strength and energy to handle yourself on the waves. You don’t need a professional surfing fitness regimen just to start, just try doing some basic strength and conditioning training a few weeks before you begin surfing.
Make sure you’re a good swimmer. Swimming uses a lot of the same muscles as surfing. You’ll also need to be able to swim well in the ocean so it’s a good idea to practice your swimming among the waves in preparation. This point is extremely important for your safety.
Train your brain. It’s normal to be nervous or scared when starting any new, demanding sport or hobby. When you’re out on the waves with nothing but a board, it’s all the more understandable. Nonetheless, there is a kind of “surfing fitness for the mind” which you need to consider. Don’t just hit the waves if something is really bothering you or you are feeling really stressed out. Surfing demands your full attention and concentration. Read more on this topic from surfing psychologist Todd Walsh on Surf Stronger.
Get a surf-specific fitness routine. There are those that think the best way to stay fit for surfing is to get in the water and practice surfing. I tend to agree. However, many people don’t have the opportunity to do that year round. Luckily there are surfing fitness routines specifically designed to keep you “surf fit” throughout the year. These range from the basic, like this one from the BBC, to more customized and advanced regimens like what is described in this article from Outside Online.
Finally, take it easy. The old adage “no pain, no gain” might have helped build Britain’s railways, but it’s not really the healthiest mindset when it comes to surfing fitness or any other sports or wellness activity. Don’t push yourself to hard. If it feels really bad, it probably is. Oh, and don’t forget to warm up!