Trying to get surf fit is not easy and there are lots of different types of training that can be done.
Since riding waves involves lots of different movements and muscle groups, many look to weightlifting as a possible way to improve their surfing.
However, this often followed by the common question: do surfers lift weights? Yes, many do since weightlifting gives them the strength to pop up fast and turn harder, and this includes 2019 World Champion, Italo Ferreira. However, surfers don’t overdo the weights as the extra bulk can cause a few problems for surfing, as will be explained below.
Weights and Surfing
Why do surfers lift weights? Weights provide an excellent source of strength that helps surfers to paddle faster, take off better and pull bigger airs.
Weights also have many other benefits for all-round physical health and conditioning, allowing surfers to stay out in the water longer and ride more waves to a higher standard.
What type of weightlifting do surfers do? Most of the standard kinds of exercises with weights since surfers need a well-rounded level of fitness. Think deadlifts, clean and press, as well as dumb bell workouts.
You can see 2019 world surfing champion Italo Ferreira lifting weights in the Instagram post below, however you will also see him doing lots of other forms of training in his other posts since he keeps his training schedule varied for the variety of movements needed to be an elite surfer.
Dr. Jeremy Sheppard of Surfing Australia is also a major proponent of ‘strength training’, involving weights to help improve the ability of professional surfers to take them to the next level.
The video below reinforces the message that general strength/weight training will help surfers lose weight and improves surfers’ ability to be fast and agile.
Crossfit Weights and Surfing
Retired professional surfer and big-wave surfing legend, Shane Dorian, is a huge fan of Cross-fit. This involves many different strength training routines, including weights.
The video below from the Crossfit official YouTube channel even has the title ‘Confidence in Big Waves’, in reference to the benefits Dorian feels that Crossfit gives him.
Two-time World Champion, Gabriel Medina has a varied training routine, and in the video below you can see a few of the exercises he does in the brief section of the video below.
You will see that Medina uses rope training, exercise balls and other bodyweight activities to keep himself in top physical condition.
You will also notice that he does some of the biggest and best aerial maneuvers in surfing history.
Drawback to Lifting Weights for Surfing
There are a few key drawbacks to lifting weights as part of surf training if not done correctly, and these relate to becoming too bulky, above a good, lean weight and also the possibility of slowing down, as we’ll look at below.
In terms of bulking up, this will not help surfing since it can reduce the range of motion in certain joints. Surfers need flexibility to be able to move and turn in a variety of dynamic ways, so if weight training for bulk it can negatively impact on your surfing.
Another possible issue with lifting weights and surfing is the added body weight for surfers. Since muscle mass can add to overall weight, surfers need to pay attention to their bodyweight to make sure that it doesn’t go above their ideal range.
If overall weight increases too much, it can make your surfboard start to bog and feel slow because it can’t hold you. This could then mean that you will need to buy a new surfboard, which is an extra expense most of us could do without unless absolutely necessary!
Lifting weights and gaining lots of muscles can also make surfers slow if they consistently try to increase in size. This again can affect surfing performance since these added muscles may detract from the agility and speed needed to ride waves well.
Instead of aiming for bulk and size, should rather aim to push to exhaustion when weight training to help them gain in strength without the negative side effects of the added ‘bulk’.
Other Types of Training Popular with Surfers
There are many other types of training beyond weight lifting that are popular with surfers.
For instance, Brazililan jiu-jitsu is a hugely popular form of training among professional surfers. Surfing’s GOAT and 11-time World Champion, Kelly Slater, is a huge fan of this kind of jiu-jitsu, in part because of the intense physical workout that it provides.
You can see him getting involved in some grappling in the video below with boxing trainer
Long-distance paddling is also another form of training that some professional surfers enjoy. For instance, 2012 World Champion Joel Parkinson competed in the Oahu to Molokai paddle race during the same year he won his world title. The said race is for 63 miles of grueling paddling, so definitely an intense option.
To be honest, training with just about anything in the gym is also common among surfers, with exercises balls being extremely popular, as well
Surf Strength Coach Kris Mills is a proponent of bodyweight training and all kinds of fluid movements, as well as more tradition resistance training in the gym.
Mills’s main points are that surfers need to move well and freely to be able to surf well, so that seems like a good philosophy for an all-round training approach.
All of the above will be particularly helpful for doing advanced maneuvers like airs since these involve a lot of pop out of the top of the wave but also a huge amount of core strength and stability to be able to make the landing.
Not All Surfers Lift Weights
However, not all surfers do weightlifting and there are plenty of good surfers who don’t lift weights.
This is because surfing itself often provides enough of a workout and many people can get good at surfing without doing much else.
This might be plenty for you if you only want to surf and have fun, rather than looking to get serious and keep improving. It’s also fin if you are riding bigger boards in mellow waves since
However, there is definitely a limit to a surf-only approach and it’s always good to keep a variety of activities as forms of training to enhance your surfing.
It’s also a necessity to do other forms of training to keep up your level of surf fitness as, for most of us, there are long flat spells without waves so it’s really important to be able to surf again once the waves come round again.
Does surfing get you ripped? Surfing can get you ripped since it is an intense physical workout that involves many different muscle groups in the body. However, the main issues are that the surf comes and goes so it really depends on how often you are able to surf in your local area.
You might also find it hard to get to the beach often enough to get fit or ‘ripped’ from surfing alone, so it’s for this reason that many surfers around the world have no choice but to use lots of different workout options to help them stay in shape for surfing.
How do surfers train? Using a wide variety of techniques, from weight training to bodyweight workouts and combat sports like jiu-jitsu. Flexibility is also a key component of good surfing shape, so many surfers do activities like yoga or pilates for the all-important core strength and balance.
Most professional surfers will do many of the activities above, as well as other standard cardio workouts as well as things like swimming.
There really aren’t many bad options when it comes to training as a surfer, so choose wisely and you can enhance your surfing ability, too.