5 Strength Training Tips for Surfers

Brianna Cope

Kauai, Hawaii, United States

Professional Surfer


Balance, strength, and flexibility are very important for a surfer. Just imagine a rigid, weak, and uncoordinated person trying to maintain their position on a surfboard on dry land, let alone a massive wave.


I started strength training three years ago, and since then I’ve noticed an improvement in my strength, balance, and overall surfing. Weight training and squatting, in particular, has really improved my surfing ability. Being able to have a low center of gravity and a strong core makes my surfing more powerful and stable.



Surfing Is a Very High-Impact Sport.

It’s very beneficial to train your muscles to reduce the force of impact, which will help with injury prevention. I believe the more time you put in at the gym will translate to better surfing performance.


Here are my top 5 exercises that will improve your surfing performance:



Squats are a great leg workout. The emphasis is on the quads and hamstrings, which will strengthen your knees and minimize knee injury. Squats also train your body to have a low center of gravity when you’re surfing, which helps you be more centered and more stable on the surfboard.


When I squat, I do what is called a high bar squat to emphasize having a low center of gravity. You do this by placing the bar upon your shoulders, squeezing your upper back and abs tight. You then sit back as you would in a chair and get as low as you can without rounding your lower back.


Hex-Bar Deadlifts

Hex-bar deadlifts are great for strengthening the quads, butt, lower back, hamstrings, and upper back. I really cannot emphasize enough how much you truly need to be comfortable in a squat position and how building up strong quads will help you surf. For surfers, conditioning these muscles not only improves performance but helps to mitigate injury.



5 Strength Training Tips for Surfers


When you perform a hex-bar deadlift, you will need a hex-bar, however, if you don’t have one you can use heavy dumbbells. You will be placing yourself at the center of the hex-bar. If using dumbbells, have them on each side of your body or out in front of you. While in the center of the bar, keep your chest up and emphasize a deep squat position. Keep your weight in the midpoint of your foot. Just like when you are surfing, grip the floor with your feet. Push through your entire foot until you come to a standing position. Imagine that you are pushing the floor away, rather than standing up straight.


Hamstring Single-Leg Ball Curls

This is a great way to work on balance while strengthening your hamstrings. It’s all about control on the way down and really focusing on your hamstrings that are doing all the work.



5 Strength Training Tips for Surfers


You will need a yoga or stability ball to perform this exercise. Lay on your back and place one foot on the exercise ball. Extend your body upwards. Drive through your heel make sure to push down on the ball to ensure that it will not rock in any direction. Repeat on the other side.


Lunges With a Barbell

Lunges are a great way to gain strength in your legs and glutes. Lunges also help strengthen your core. Adding a barbell to the lunges helps you work on balance and stability, plus strength.


Everyone has their own strategy for getting the barbell on their back, from using a friend to picking it right out of the squat rack. I pick it right out of the squat rack. Make sure to keep your back tight. Emphasize keeping proper posture at all times with this exercise. Keeping the weight on both sides will force you to engage your core and stabilize your body. Now step forward with one foot, keeping it on the appropriate side of this line, right to right and left to left. After you step forward, sink down as low are you are comfortable, without having your knee hit the floor. Repeat on the other side.


5 Strength Training Tips for Surfers


Push Ups

When you’re surfing, you’re constantly pushing up on your surfboard to stand up. Doing push-ups in the gym translates into pushing up on your board. Push-ups help you stand up quicker and be more explosive on the takeoff.


When you perform a push-up, you will squeeze your back tight and lower your body until your chest hits the floor, then push your body away from the floor. Make sure to keep everything in line and engage your stomach to get the biggest benefit from this exercise.


At the end of my workout, I always make sure to properly fuel myself. Protein is crucial after a workout to help to restore, grow and repair muscles. After every workout, I do 2 scoops of the vegan protein powder. I love Wild Strawberry and Real Chocolate mixed with bananas, organic peanut butter, and coconut water. I like to drink coconut water after every work out because coconut water has electrolytes, potassium, and magnesium.

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