It’s a wonder that this sport we all love so much is called surfing at all, since we are actually paddling about 90 percent of the time when we are out in the water! Although the glory is in ripping wicked-bad bottom turns and busting out massive air, much of the work in getting into the wave comes from actually knowing how to paddle effectively and gracefully.
For surfers of any ability, being able to paddle on a surfboard with balanced power and even strokes often marks the difference between a good session and a great session out in the line up. It hardly matters whether you are in an all out battle for first place at a surf competition or just casually surfing at a secret surf break in your home town, paddling counts for a lot.
Sure, you often see beginner surfers out in the break being pushed into waves by surf school instructors, and they do catch waves with giant smiles on their faces … BUT the real work comes when you don’t have anyone pushing you into a breaking wave anymore and you have to work for each hard-earned wave. Once on your own, you have to earn each aching muscle with every paddle into a wave; building up stamina as you go. And if you are lucky enough, you may overhear the energizing cheer of “Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!” from somewhere nearby, a hopeful sound from some regulars at the line up, providing you with spiritual support and some tough love. It’s a call for more effort, more drive, and a whole lot of muscle!
To help you build those crucial paddle-centric muscles, We has put together a quick set of 3 important exercises that will get you pumped and ready for hours of paddling readiness!
Push Ups: The grand-daddy of obvious exercises, this simple but effective workout builds chest muscles and shoulder strength that give you a great boost in paddling into waves. Since a majority of work when paddling happens in and around your shoulders, push ups are crucial for building a strong support system for your paddling guns! Push-up exercise, if performed correctly, increases upper body strength and brings about more abdominal and hip stability, a definite plus in surfing!
Chair Dips: This is an excellent overall exercise to do for building core surfing muscles. Simple and easy, dips force you to lift your own body-weight, which in turn stresses your upper-body, which builds muscle. Much of the “power” that drives you into a wave is from the balanced and strong strokes supported by your triceps. By strengthening these muscles as well as your core, dips ensure a longer and more steady stroke rhythm for those surf sessions!
Vinyasa Flow: That’s right, it’s a yoga sequence of moves that focuses on strengthening your core surf muscles, taking the form of smooth and flowing breath-synchronized movements! Starting with plank pose (similar to the static push up pose and then lowering your body), then cobra pose, you work your way into downward dog, and then repeat the sequence from plank pose. You will see your paddling as well as surf “pop-up” become smoother and faster, and become more graceful in no time!
Remember to take your time with these exercises, ensuring that you are easing yourself into the routine; working your way into a steadily increasing set of repetitions! Surfing muscles are quite different from other muscles, often requiring you to use sets of muscle groups you have never used in conjunction before!
Rob love surfing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing. He’s writing about them in this blog.