8 Ways to Stay Surf Fit

It is common knowledge that the best way to stay surf fit is to surf. Nothing else can come close to mimicking the demands surfing requires of the body, rather than the act of surfing itself. Unfortunately, life often gets in the way of surfing. We’re not all fortunate enough to live near a surfable body of water. We don’t all have the luxury of time. For many of us, our annual surf trip is the most we’ll be in the water all year. So, if you’ve just booked your ticket to visit our Nicaragua surf resort, Malibu Popoyo, you may be wondering how you’ll manage to get surf fit before your trip. Fortunately for landlocked surfers, and those who spend more time riding a desk than a surfboard, there are several ways to stay surf fit that don’t involve surfing. Continue below to learn 8 Ways to Stay Surf Fit.

YogaA woman doing yoga by the beach.

Yoga is a staff and guest favorite at Malibu Popoyo. After your visit to our Nicaragua surf resort, you’re sure to fall in love with yoga once you see the obvious benefits it provides to your surfing. Not only does yoga provide much-needed relief to your aching paddle muscles after a long surf session, but yoga helps increase total body strength and flexibility, with a particular focus on core strength, that is beneficial to surfing.  Much like surfing, yoga can be meditative and its practice provides a plethora of mental health benefits, in addition, yoga’s obvious physical benefits. At our Nicaragua surf resort, guests will enjoy post-surf session yoga classes in our open-sided, wooden-floor palapa.


Rowing, both in the water or indoors at the gym, is a great way to stay surf fit. Rowing is a total body workout that targets many of the same muscles that are engaged during a surf session. While it may not seem like it, rowing relays heavily on the larger muscles in the legs, like the quads, which are engaged while you pump down the line surfing. Rowing also recruits the lats and many of the same small muscles in the upper back that are used while paddling. In addition to building strength, rowing is a useful cardio tool. A great way to incorporate rowing into your everyday strength training regimen is to add 500-meter rows as a superset to any exercise.

Swimming Laps

Getting surf fit is particularly challenging because many forms of exercise, like weightlifting, don’t engage your muscles the same way surfing does. Swimming laps, on the other hand, engages your upper back, shoulders, and chest in an almost identical way that paddling a surfboard might. Swimming laps builds total-body strength and endurance that correlates directly with paddling, rather than building strength without muscular endurance.

Prone Paddling

Prone Paddling, for those that don’t know, is a water endurance sport where participants sit on their knees or lie on their stomachs to paddle a large paddleboard over open water. Prone paddling mimics surf paddling in nearly every way, making it the ideal paddle trainer to build endurance. A typical prone paddle might go for several miles, but beginners should start with shorter paddles over preset distances.

Strength TrainingA man working out with a kettlebell by the ocean.

Strength training, specifically weight training, may seem like an obvious way to build strength in key areas for surfing, but that is not always the case. Lifting heavy will undoubtedly increase strength, but often at the determent of flexibility, which is crucial for surfing. When strength training for surfing, keep in mind that muscular endurance and flexibility should be prioritized over brute strength. From a training perspective, this means focusing on lightweight, high repetition movements. Surf training can be added to an existing weight training program, by adding mobility and endurance work.

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-Intensity Interval Training, often referred to as HIIT, combines aerobic and anaerobic exercises in circuits to maximize caloric and cardiovascular output. This might look like a circuit involving burpees, rowing, and weighted lifting. Beyond being a sensationally popular fitness trend, high-intensity interval training is an incredibly effective training tool that is proven to be as effective or even more so than long-form cardio (in terms of caloric burn and cardio output), in a fraction of the time.


While riding a skateboard may not be a mainstream form of exercise, skating mimics the movements in surfing and is therefore valuable for skills development. The first skateboards were made by surfers going stir crazy during long flat spells in California. They figured if they couldn’t surf in the ocean, they could at least surf on the sidewalk. Since then, decades have past and skating has evolved into its own sport and subculture separate from surfing, but the roots remain the same. Watching a skater pump along the walls of a bowl is almost identical in movement to a surfer in trim. While skating may be quite intimidating to take up, for those with some experience skating proves useful in developing a sense of familiarity with board riding.


CrossFit has its faults, especially to those who attempt it without proper guidance, but the simple truth is that it is a highly effective total-body training program. Elite surfers like Shane Dorian, Billy Kemper, and Nathan Florence, all use CrossFit style workouts to keep them surf fit year-round. The idea behind CrossFit is simple, practice and train major lifts to build total-body strength, master the basics of gymnastics, and perform regular cardio (bike, run, swim). CrossFit workouts are constantly varying, meaning your body will never adapt to a set routine and plateau as a result. Despite the stigma surrounding CrossFit, when practiced safely, under professional supervision, it can be a highly effective surf training program.

No type of surf training can compare to the act of surfing itself,  so the sooner you pay us a visit at our Nicaragua surf resort, Malibu Popoyo, the better.


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