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The Surfer's Workout That'll Get You Shredded for Summer

author image Kelly Gonzalez
Kelly Gonzalez is a teacher of movement, yoga, a healthy lifestyle, and mindfulness. Through speaking and seminars, wellness consulting, writing, and private coaching she aims to educate and inspire people of all ages and abilities to passionately pursue their highest potential, experience vibrant health and wellbeing, and freedom in body and mind. For more please visit

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The Surfer's Workout That'll Get You Shredded for Summer
Time to hit the beach! Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM

Take a look at any professional surfer's body and you''ll see that their six-pack abs and thighs of steel are built on a strong foundation of mobility, strength and conditioning. But did you know that you can create that sculpted surfer's physique on dry land as well?

Michelle Drielsma, creator of Surf Strength Conditioning and author of “Fluid Surfer: The Surfer’s Bible to Endless Performance & Injury Prevention,” is an expert on how to prepare and protect your body for the dynamic sport of surfing and beyond. Here are the seven moves she recommends to get you fit to dive in and ride the waves this summer with safety, strength and grace (or just look like you do).

1. Shoulder Clock
The shoulder clock helps with shoulder mobility. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM

1 Shoulder Clock

Paddling requires a lot of shoulder mobility — the ability to move your arms repeatedly (with control) through their full range of motion. But it's also important for non-surfers for preventing injury. Start doing this move with just your body weight and progress to holding one- to two-kilogram weights to give your shoulder-stabilizing muscles an added challenge from multiple angles.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your stomach with one arm straight out in front of you, holding a weight, and the other hand near your chest for support. Lift your head and chest off the ground. Circle your top arm out and around to the side. Continue the circle and end at your shoulder. Keep circling around for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Read more: The Best Stretches to Avoid Injury in Your Favorite Sports

2. Shoulder Hanging
Strengthen your shoulders by hanging from the lifeguard tower. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM

2  Shoulder Hanging

“Many shoulder issues can be relieved by more shoulder hanging,” says Drielsma. So she recommends this move to improve shoulder mobility and control for surfers and non-surfers alike.

HOW TO DO IT: Grab onto a securely mounted overhead bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Retract your shoulder blades to create space between your ears and shoulders. Draw your navel into your spine, contract your glutes and find a hollow body position. Hang there for 10 to 20 seconds for three sets. Work up to single-arm hanging for 10 seconds or more. Change the grip of your hangs regularly (overhand, underhand, neutral, wide, narrow and crossed).

3. Skater to Curtsy Squat
You’ll definitely feel the burn in your legs as you perform this combo move. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM

3 Skater to Curtsy Squat

If you’ve ever seen a surfer cruising along the inside of a barrel wave, you've seen their ability to crouch and stay low for a long time. Surfing demands mobility of the hips and ankles and the strength of your legs. This move helps you build that stamina and lower-body strength, whether you're hitting the waves or not.

HOW TO DO IT: Squat on one leg with your other leg extended out to the side. Ensure there’s no weight on the foot of the leg extended to the side. Then, as you squat on the same leg, extend the leg behind you, again keeping your weight off that leg. Lastly, still squatting on the same leg, cross the other leg behind and to the opposite side of your body. Repeat this sequence five times total before switching legs. Keep your squat knee bent and over your toes throughout.

Read more: The Brazilian Booty Beach Workout

4. Push-Up
Surfers need to be able to push up off their board to catch a wave. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM

4 Push-Up

A solid body-weight push-up is essential in the sport of surfing. Not only do you need a strong upper body to push up and come to standing once you catch a wave, but in stronger and larger waves, you’ll need the strength to duck dive under the surf. Even if you're not on the board, you can benefit from the upper-body strength you'll built with this foundational exercise.

HOW TO DO IT: Start in plank position. Bring your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers facing forward. Stay on the balls of your feet and keep your neck in line with your spine. Maintain a flat lower back as you pull your navel in. Bend your elbows to lower your chest down, and then push back up to a straight-arm plank. Push up with your elbows tucked in and close to your chest, not flaring out to the sides. Do four sets of 10 reps.

5. Single-Leg Hip Bridge
Lower-body strength is essential for surfers. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM

5 Single-Leg Hip Bridge

Endless paddling may make it seem like surfing is purely an upper-body workout, but strong glutes and hips and pelvic stability is what helps you go from cruising to turning and shredding. The single-leg hip bridge will help you build the strength and control to rip. Plus, when you're not in the ocean, your booty will look phenomenal.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back. Bend one knee. Push through your heel and use your glutes to lift your hips. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions on each side for three sets. Make sure you’re extending at your hips, not your lower spine, by rotating your hip bones back to keep your lower back flat. You can elevate your foot on a bench or step to make it harder.

Read more: The Bikini Body Workout

6. Swiss Ball Jackknife
Surfers need a strong core for every aspect of their sport. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM

6 Swiss Ball Jackknife

When it comes to any sport, it’s important to train for the movements you'll actually be doing. But this exercise isn't just for surfers. The Swiss ball jackknife helps build the balance, core strength and control. “This exercise is great for your hip flexion-core integration,” says Drielsma. “It mimics the strength and control requirements for a pop-up.”

HOW TO DO IT: Start in a straight-arm plank with your feet on the Swiss ball. Draw the navel toward the spine, bend your knees and draw them in to touch your mid-triceps. Begin with the spine neutral and then progress to rounding your back (just like if you were popping up off the surfboard). Do three sets of 15 reps.

7. Russian Twist
Time to do the Russian twist. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM

7 Russian Twist

Russian twists strengthen your core and help give you the power to safely turn — whether performing some championship-worthy maneuvers or in your day-to-day life. You can either do this move with just your body weight or you can hold a dumbbell with both hands. The body-weight version focuses on the rotational-strength side, and the dumbbell version emphasizes the anti-rotational-strength side to help protect your spine.

HOW TO DO IT: Sit on a small Swiss ball and roll back so that your upper back is in contact with the ball. Bridge your hips up using your glutes and abs to keep your lower back flat. Keep your arms straight and slowly rotate your chest to face one side. Rotate through the upper spine, and keep your hips relatively still. Do three sets of 25 (both sides equals one rep).

Read more: The Ultimate Body-Weight Beach Workout

What Do YOU Think?
Tell us what you think about this surfer workout. Photo Credit: Kristen Schellenberg/LIVESTRONG.COM

What Do YOU Think?

Are you ready to get moving with this workout and dive in and give surfing a go? How do these surf-specific moves challenge your body in new ways? Which move was your favorite? We would love to hear about your surf-workout experience! Or maybe you're nowhere near the ocean. Did you channel your inner surfer with this workout anyway? Let us know in the comments below!

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