This progression of the traditional squat activates all the lower-limb muscles. Plus, because it's a single-leg exercise, it helps surfers feel more secure on the board, says San Clemente, California-based Kolohe Andino, who's ranked No. 2 in the men's championship tour.
How to do it: Stand tall balancing on the right leg with the left foot raised slightly off the ground. Slowly lower into a pistol squat, dropping your glutes as close to the ground as you can (or lower onto a box until you have the necessary strength to do the full exercise). The left leg should hover above the ground at the lowest point of the squat. Press back up to start for one rep. Complete 5 reps, then switch sides and repeat. Perform 2 to 3 sets.
Before you can ride a wave you need to master the pop-up, the quick transition from lying facedown on the board to standing upright. You can mimic the motion on land by performing burpees that end in a surfer stance, with knees bent and one leg in front of the other, explains Kirra Pinkerton, the 2018 WSL Women's World Junior champion from San Clemente, California.
How to do it: Start in a high plank with shoulders stacked over wrists. Lower your chest to the ground, then powerfully push yourself up with arms and legs, landing in a surfer stance. Jump straight up with arms overhead, then jump back into high plank for one rep. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
A strong lower body is essential for surfers because they need to continuously handle the impact of waves that move as fast as 50 miles per hour, Lenny says. He does agility-based circuits to condition his legs, train his fast-twitch muscle fibers, and build endurance. “They’re fun and challenging,” he says.
How to do it: Stand on a vibrating platform such as a Power Plate and do 1 minute of slow squats at 50 hertz in a surfer stance. Repeat on the opposite side, then immediately do 4 box jumps at a height that allows you to maintain proper form. Finish with a 1-minute sprint on an air bike. Repeat the circuit 6 times.
To stay stable on the board, 2017 Vans US Open of Surfing winner Sage Erickson of Ojai, California, does switch lunges in the gym. The move works the glutes and legs and if you keep your pelvis tucked under (rather than pressing your glutes back) it also engages the lower abs. “Make sure you keep your weight in your heels for optimal activation,” she adds.
How to do it: Stand tall and lunge forward with the left leg, then jump into the air and switch your legs so the right leg is forward and the left leg is back, landing in a forward lunge on the opposite side for one rep. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
This plyo exercise builds the balance, core strength, and power surfers need to perform the pop-up. “You only have a few nanoseconds to get up,” says pro surfer Nic Lamb, who's based in Santa Cruz, California. Start with less challenging versions, like clap push-ups, until you’re ready to progress.
How to do it: Start in a high plank with shoulders stacked over wrists. Lower until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees, then press up powerfully so you’re airborne, with both arms and legs extended. Land back in high plank for one rep. Build up to 2 to 3 sets of 5 reps.
The seconds before catching a wave are full of explosive movements and short bursts of energy. “Speed is essential as you have to move quickly to reach the waves,” explains Lamb. He preps for these moments by building his cardiovascular base with 100-meter running sprints on the treadmill and in the sand.
How to do it: Sprint at your maximum speed for 100 meters (or up to a tenth of a mile if you’re on the treadmill), then recover for 30 seconds. Complete 5 to 6 sprints.
Surfers are prone to shoulder injuries because they spend so much time paddling. To strengthen the back and the stabilizing muscles in the shoulders, Pinkerton does pull-aparts. "Increase the tension by placing your hands closer together on the band," she says.
How to do it: Stand tall holding a resistance band with both hands at shoulder width. Extend your arms straight ahead so they're parallel to the ground and pull your hands in opposite directions to create tension in the band. At the end of the motion, both arms should be fully extended out to the sides. Pause and slowly reverse to start. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.