Can Surfing Build Muscle? Here’s What Beginners Need to Know

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It’s easy for people who don’t live near the coast to associate surfing with relaxing vacations. In reality, there’s nothing “chill” about balancing on these boards. If you’ve ever tried surfing before, you know how intense riding the waves could be. But you might be wondering: just how many muscles are involved in surfing? 

Surfing provides an all-body workout, so you will build various muscle groups. As you paddle into place, you’ll mostly work your arm and leg muscles. However, once you start “hanging-ten,” you’ll give your core, hips, and glutes an intense workout session.  

While surfing is a phenomenal all-body workout, it may not be the best option for you. If you’ve ever wondered whether or not surfing could build muscle, please “dive” through the info we’re about to share! 

Surfer rides ocean wave in tropics, Can Surfing Build Muscle? Here's What Beginners Need to Know

What Muscle Groups Does Surfing Work?

Surfer with surf board dive underwater under breaking ocean wave

All of your muscles will play a part in surfing, but most surfers place particular emphasis on the core. These abdominal muscles play a crucial role in keeping you balanced while on your board. It’s essential for anyone interested in hitting big waves to have a strong core for stable balance.  

Over time, you’ll notice your hips and core are way more stable, which will dramatically enhance your posture. This is excellent news for anyone interested in improving their balance—or counteracting all that time spent working on the computer. 

Of course, every time you squat on your board, you’re also giving your gluteus muscles a great workout. Squatting is also great for the quads and gastrocnemius muscles, all of which help give you those defined surfer legs and the famous “surfer butt.” 

But let’s not forget the role that arm muscles play as you’re paddling in the ocean. Just like swimmers, you will build up your biceps, triceps, and deltoids whenever you enter the sea. You’ll also strengthen your obliques, trapezius, and latissimus dorsi every time you kick against the water.  

Do Surfers Lift Weights?

There’s some debate in the surfer community whether or not weight-lifting is optimal for success on the waves. However, most surfers believe adding targeted strength training to their weekly routine will improve muscle mass, endurance, and overall surfer performance.

Those who object to lifting weights are mostly concerned about posture. Since great surfing requires superb balance, weightlifters mustn’t reinforce bad posture habits during their sessions. This could be especially tricky if you’re unconsciously slumping over a computer at work all day long. For the best results, consider working with a professional personal trainer who could make sure you’re doing each exercise correctly.  

Instead of lifting weights, some surfers recommend swimming at a pool to stay fit between surfing sessions. Obviously, there’s a lot of crossover between the worlds of swimming and surfing, so you’ll get the chance to strengthen many of the same muscle groups.

Surfing experts recommend experimenting with a few short, intense swimming sessions that simulate the surfing experience. You might also want to add a few backstrokes before calling it a day.

How Do You Train To Surf While At Home?

Unsurprisingly, the best way to train for surfing while at home is to buy an Indo board. As the name suggests, this indoor balance board is designed to mimic the feel of a surfboard. Each of these ingenious boards comes with a roller you place underneath to help you work on your balance.

There are many great exercises you could do with an Indo board, including squats and pushups. However, it’s also beneficial to stand on the Indo board to practice balancing and work your core muscles.

For more helpful tips on using an Indo board, watch this detailed video tutorial:

 

If you want a more in-depth at-home training video that doesn’t require an Indo board, follow along with these helpful home exercises:

 

By the way, you can find plenty of Indo boards online at reasonable prices:

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Are Burpees Good For Surfing?

Burpees are a fantastic all-body workout that all surfers should add to their at-home exercise routine. You could even modify the standard burpee to simulate getting on your surfboard.

If you’re interested in practicing a “surfer burpee,” you should bring your body to the ground and then push up into a “surfer squat,” as you can see in this video:

 

Are Pushups Good For Surfing?

Pushups are another excellent exercise for surfers who want to build strength. This exercise is perfect for building shoulder strength and stability, which is crucial when you’re on a surfboard. But beyond the shoulder benefits, proper pushups could improve your torso and neck extensors. 

However, you have to be sure you’re doing your pushups correctly to get the full benefit. Please avoid dropping your head or torso when you’re doing a pushup. Instead, you should place your hands chest-width apart and ensure you have a firm and flat back. Go slow and steady the first couple of times to make sure you have the proper technique.  

Check out this YouTube video to see how surfers should do their pushups:

 

Is Pilates Good For Surfing?

Pilates is one of the best workout routines that surfers could get involved in. The main reason Pilates is a great complementary exercise is that it strengthens your core. As we’ve mentioned many times, a firm core is essential for staying balanced on your board. Additionally, Pilates will better condition all of the muscles you need to paddle and kick.

You can learn more about the most common results people see when taking a Pilates course on this post. FitSeer also has a blog post explaining why Pilates should be considered “strength and resistance training.”   

Could You Use An Exercise Ball To Prep For Surfing?

Another great tool to add to your at-home gym is a professional exercise ball. Sometimes called a “stability ball,” this object could help you extend your stretches and keep that core in tip-top shape. 

If you need some ideas for using an exercise ball at home, check out this video:

 

You can find balancing balls galore online nowadays:

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What Are The Most Common Injuries In Surfing?

Young surfer wiping out at Tamarama beach

While surfing is a great all-body workout, that doesn’t mean it’s without risks. Indeed, any new surfers need to be extra aware of the most common injury sites and how to protect themselves. 

According to health authorities, it’s most common for surfers to suffer injuries to their shoulders, legs, arms, or face. These injuries include lacerations, sprains, and even fractures. To avoid these common injuries, it’s a good idea to add a brief warm-up routine before your surfing session.  

But beyond muscle and bone injuries, surfers are also at a greater risk of sunburn and sun-related conditions like pterygium (aka “surfer’s eye”). To protect against these conditions, surfers should always wear a water-resistant sunscreen.

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You should also wear a good pair of UV-blocking sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes.

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In Closing

While surfing requires a lot of discipline, it will reward athletes with a magnificently sculpted body. If you’re interested in giving this sport a try, then you should read through our previous post, Is Surfing Easy Or Hard To Learn?, listing the six steps you need to master surfing. With hard work and determination, you could be shredding gnarly waves in no time!   

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