How to stay in shape for surfing when you can’t hit the waves

Ok, if you live somewhere beautiful with perfect waves like Hawaii’s North Shore, skip this article and just get out there and surf! But for surfers who can’t always get out for a paddle — maybe they work long hours or live in a landlocked state — staying in shape for the moment when you can hit the waves is crucial. You don’t want to continually work on building muscle groups, you need to maintain your flexibility and cardio.

Trail running (or other cardio with elevation change)

Ah, good old fashioned running. This is the easiest, cheapest exercise, and you get to enjoy nature while you do it. We recommend trail running so you get elevation change as well as a great view, but be careful not to roll an ankle when running on rocky trails.

Swimming is one of the best cardio exercises your can do for surfing. Swimming laps in a pool will provide excellent cardio as well as working to keep the muscles you use for paddling in shape.


Building muscle mass off the surfboard can be hugely beneficial. Lifting weights can improve balance, help you get up quicker on the board and decrease injuries.

HIIT workouts

High-intensity interval training workouts, or HIIT, are a great compliment to surfing. These workouts combine short bursts of cardiovascular exercise with anaerobic exercise, usually with short recovery periods. This kind of training gets your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. It also mimics surfing — quick bursts of action followed by a short recovery, and then back in the waves!

Yoga or stretching

Flexibility is the key to keeping free from injury as well as helping with focus and balance, which are both extremely beneficial for surfing.  Being able to bend and react to changes is a great skill to have on and off the surfboard. Yoga builds and tones muscles, teaches breathing techniques, and it can be done any time, almost anywhere.

Dancing or other fun cardio

You don’t have to be busting your butt in a boring gym to stay fit. There are lots of fun classes or scenarios where you can get your heart rate up while having a blast. Dance classes are also great for your brain since you work to remember steps and moves and also helps with timing.

What’s your favorite off-board workout? Let us know!