Surf fitness out of the water?

GODS QUAD's picture
GODS QUAD started the topic in Friday, 26 Jul 2019 at 11:48am

Has anyone had any success staying "surf fit" while being out of the water for any stretch of time?

I just got back in the surf this morning after a 5 week absence thanks to being away for work and relocating to the city and I was absolutely dead tired just dealing with very mild 2-3 ft beachies. Specifically my upper arms and hips were noticeably affected. I consider myself pretty fit and a competent surfer so was pretty shocked how bad my stamina was after a short break. I run a couple of times a week and do yoga almost every day in this absence, but seems like it did fuck all for my surfing...

So what works for you guys and how do you deal with that hump?

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 11:30am

Great topic. I’m the least qualified person in this area, but the best thing that has ever worked for me - and I gotta get back on the horse - are rowing machines. 

Patrick's picture
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Patrick commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 11:51am

Chin/pull ups might be good. Similar muscle groups to surf paddling & rowing.
I do them each day and I often have extended periods out of the brine and when I get back in it's not 'too' bad. I don't work out, I just play around and have fun with body weight stuff.
Speaking of which... lots of sex in the more physically demanding positions.

Squats for legs maybe.

Also be aware of your breathing... deep, calm and steady.

I also reckon a couple of surf sessions would sort you out after only five weeks.

arcadia's picture
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arcadia commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 2:22pm

Bouldering or rock climbing works for me. Good for both legs and upper body.

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Robin Masters commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 2:30pm

I’m 50 and not what I used to be obviously but if I was you I wouldn’t get to down on yourself after a half a dozen surfs or so you’ll be fine. I try and paddle a bit more explosive after a lay-off but keep the duration of the surf a little shorter for a while, especially at my age. If you’ve been jogging your aerobic capacity will be fine.

Ash's picture
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Ash commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 3:25pm

Agree with Ben, buy a 2nd hand rowing machine which is great for the whole body, however you're pulling with your arms which helps with paddling but not pushing up, so the cheapest way there is old fashioned, hard work push-ups. You don't have to go over board but a little does make a difference.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 3:36pm

Actually, burpees totally suck arse (stupid name too!) but I reckon they’re fantastic for general fitness and they also assist greatly with popping up. 

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 4:28pm

chin up bar, Swiss ball.

50 chins 3 times a week, 60 swiss ball push-ups 3 times a week.

Kettlebell swings for glutes and core.

75, 3 times a week.

total time about 25 mins for the week.

easy to travel with.

simba's picture
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simba commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 6:22pm

50 chin ups FR......your fukin hercules!

simba

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 6:41pm

I mean 50 for the day.
It's a concept from Russian Pavel Tsatouline called greasing the groove.

I do 5 sets of 7 unweighted then 4 sets of 5 weighted. Which works out to 55.
Sometimes I do it all in one hit in the morning or afternoon, sometimes I take all day.
Doesn't matter, at the end of the day I've done the work.

If the surf is pumping I do half that and skip the weighted ones.

You'll be sore as fcuk when you first do it because chin ups murder you.

Nothing makes your major paddling muscles as strong.

It's so easy to do though, not many places where you can't find something to hang from and do chins.

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simba commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 7:06pm

yeah used to do em similar to what you describe......burns those long back muscles and shoulders.......glad you cant do 50 in one go ...makes me feel normal now

simba

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 7:36pm

think I did thirty something with a skin full of rum in the mentawaiis.

soggydog's picture
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soggydog commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 7:53pm

What has worked for me is 2x2hr Muay Thai sessions a week plus running (min 40km month) and yoga(I try to make it to 1 class per week).
Wish I could do 50 chins FR. got your program now. I’ll keep you posted.

Lots of people travel for work and find Muay Thai gyms pretty welcoming in my experience. And it’s good fun.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Sunday, 28 Jul 2019 at 8:14pm

Nothing can beat actual "surf fitness": the fitness that comes from surfing regularly.

Chin up's actually make your paddling muscles stronger, so once you get over the hump of surfing again, you can paddle stronger.

Most noticeable in the actual paddling for waves when strength and power matter.

whatever you enjoy and stick at is probably what works best.

Pops's picture
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Pops commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 12:07pm

I've found water-polo style swimming helpful in the past when coming back from ankle injuries that've kept me off my board (i.e. freestyle with head and shoulders out of the water - basically trying to mimic the posture of paddling. Try to keep looking forwards throughout the stroke). Best done in a series of shorter sprints rather than continuous laps. I squeezed a kickboard between my knees (so that I didn't need to kick, and all the work was done by the upper body & core).

Rowing machines are also pretty good, but I've found they seem to miss some of the smaller muscles that paddling seems to uniquely use.

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GuySmiley commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 12:49pm

First priority whatever you do is injury prevention, why injure yourself trying to get fit/fitter. So proper form and good progression are vital.

The basis of a good burpee is a solid push up. Pull ups are solid but for most too hard with good form, there are good progression exercises to work up to a pull up with good form. There are lots of advice online which can’t replace professional instruction at a gym. Don’t forget leg work.

Apart from the surf my routine - daily yoga (20 mins) plus walking 8-10km everyday whatever else I do, twice a week - pool swimming, weights, bike (not together/ seperate). And as much sleep I can get away with because good recovery is also vital.

GODS QUAD's picture
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GODS QUAD commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 1:25pm

A stack of useful info here, cheers. Funnily enough, after 2 more surfs in 24hrs over the weekend, I was feeling a whole world better.

Heard the rowing machines are pretty great for working the arms, but was wondering if it actually helped, as Ash mentioned. Think I'll try the chin up/push ups for a bit and see how that helps. Does anyone swim laps? Any difference?

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 1:33pm

Meant to write in here earlier and I was gonna say that: Steve has it covered RE pulling bodyweight on chins, but you've also gotta get those lungs properly pumping and it's hard to beat swimming. Low impact so little chance of injury, easy to change up the workout depending on how you feel, and it'll also increase confidence in bigger surf.

I much prefer swimming in the ocean, pools drive me a bit barmy, but if the whole point is you cant get to the ocean then the chlorine is a worthwhile substitute.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 1:50pm

x2 on swimming.

Unfortunately not near a pool but i used to do 1500m every evening and always strive to improve my time. Every second lap go as hard as I can and use the next lap to recover.

Even if you haven't surfed for awhile if you keep your swimming up you still keep your paddling fitness.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

Pops's picture
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Pops commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 1:54pm

x3 for swimming laps.
Though I do find that there's some muscles that tend to get worn out paddling but not swimming - hence tacking on the "water-polo style" sprints to try to get those muscles working too.
I've been lax with swimming lately, but I used to also do a set of underwater laps at the end of a session too (so long as I had a spotter). Particularly helpful for training for a hawaii trip.

I focus's picture
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I focus commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 2:14pm

Any advice on learning a correct freestyle stroke?

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Pops commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 2:24pm

"zipper, tickle, skim" is a mantra a coach once drilled into me...
make as though you're doing up a zipper along the side of your ribs, tickle your armpit, then skim the tips of your fingers just at the water's surface until your arm is fully extended.
and keep the first arm fully extended in the water until the second arm comes down, then pull through. Helps you stay long in the water. Exaggerate everything at first. And try to complete each lap with as few strokes as you can.

That won't necessarily be helpful as far as exercise goes, but will help develop an efficient technique.

soggydog's picture
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soggydog commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 2:34pm

Good comment on sleep guysmiley. I listened to a great podcast on sleep and the performance benefits gained through sleep and the correction of technique that can gained during sleep. I’ll find it and add it to the thread

GODS QUAD's picture
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GODS QUAD commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 2:35pm

Awesome. I like the pool, so will prob hit that up pretty frequently too.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 2:53pm

I'll be the contrarian and say swimming does fcuk all for your paddling and is time consuming and boring as fcuk.

better off finding a body of water somewhere and paddling an actual board or SUPPing.

swimming laps underwater may help your anaerobic fitness if you're lungs feel like they are about to explode underwater but I reckon that is 99% mental.

Aerobic fitness? I do a shiteload of paddling and 90% of that does not require aerobic fitness. My heart rate would be barely above resting. I don;'t know how many K's I've paddled in the last month but I reckon it was probably 5-10K per surf through that run of swell. Long paddles back into position.

It's the sprint paddling that is by far most effective. Getting out of the road of sets, getting into position for sets, stroking in hard. Thats what gets you waves.

Suss it out next time you are surfing: try and ascertain how much actual aerobic fitness you require. Surfing is not the Tour de France or the Molokai Crossing.

Don't confuse muscle fatigue and weakness with aerobic fitness.

everyones mileage is different of course.

Tacked on edit: there are times when pure aerobic fitness counts: working a Gold Coast style sweep at Kirra or Snapper when you are actually paddling at 60-70% for significant periods of time.

Watch Mick Fanning out behind the rock though and how he gets his sets waves. He sits just a bit out and deep and then when that wave comes that he identifies as the one he sprints out of his position like a shark and into the slot. It's that 10-15 metres of intense paddle speed that gets him those set waves.
You could really see it with Jack Robbo at the Box too.

Then you'll see old mate plonker paddling in and he just hasn't got the paddle speed to knife in. Pitched from crest to trough.

Depends on your age too. If you're over 35 then muscle loss and strength is the key inhibiting factor, even if you could run a marathon.

GuySmiley's picture
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GuySmiley commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 3:11pm

This is getting good.

Pull-ups - lat pulldowns work the very same muscles and are a safe (good form) option for most. There are plenty of whole body dumbbell and kettle ball exercises that are also excellent.

Swimming, technique is everything, look at how our elite middle to long distance swimmers seemingly glide through the water without much splash. If your technique is poor get some training (most pools offer adult classes) and see your enjoyment increase and your times fall. To start with aim to be as smooth and as slow as possible, deliberately slow down, focus on smooth and balanced shoulder rotation with straight legs with little splash ( your feet ought not break the surface). Slow drawn out exhaling of the breathe.

Freestyle swimming uses the same muscles as paddling but in a different way of course but it can still overload the shoulders resulting in bursa or rotator cuff problems so balance out front and back physical work and maybe do some band stretching to avoid the dreaded bursa issues.

Freeride is right, swimming laps can be boring, I disagree it does help with paddling, but lap swimming can be mixed up - teach yourself to bi-lateral breathe, swim hard every second or third lap, interval train it by swimming hard to the end of the pool, using your shoulders only (no legs) get out of the pool and slowly walk back to the other end and do it all over again x5 x10 .... that will get your heat rate up FR (my resting HR is b/w 45 and 50 bpm but that interval set gets it over 150).

FR also makes a good point about other paddling work, that’s what my mal is for, flat out paddling up and down the beach chasing waves on small days.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 3:13pm

I don't have any probs getting my HR up in the pool Guy, I just find it really boring and a very poor return on investment if the goal is to improve surf fitness.

The thought of cashing out some swim coach to improve my freestyle stroke: ain't got time for that shitt. Much better things I'd rather do with my time and money.

some people like it though.

I see a helluva of ageing blokes who punch out laps every week and they are missing waves, slow pop-up, weak turns etc etc who could probably invest that time a lot more wisely if the goal is to improve surfing, as the original poster insinuated.

also a lot of people find swimming meditative, so there is a benefit there.

swimming is better than running, no doubt.

I think trying a few different things could be good, see what works best for him.

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GuySmiley commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 3:49pm

Yeah you're right FR, swimming alone isn't going to do it but its safe and in the end its what works for you, what you enjoy that sees you consistently backing up. Horses for courses.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 5:10pm

that's why i said to smash out every second lap. the recovery lap helps you reset and maintain your stamina while the explosive lap conditions you to have that burst of power when you need it.

swimming laps of course isn't the be all to end all but in times of keeping your paddling fitness up, in my experience it's pretty hard to beat.

you're right about meditation too- i find it very therapeutic, good thinking time.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

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stunet commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 5:22pm

Agree Zen: fast, slow, loud, soft, smash it, soothe it. Keep alternating.

I do similar while bodysurfing, stroke out slowly, catch a wave, then keep my head underwater till I hit the sand - if I can. Or in reverse, run hard out the back, against the waves, then catch a wave and breathe deep on the way in.

Just keep moving.

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Blowin commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 5:43pm

Totally agree.

I’ve been alternating between sipping and skolling all afternoon.

And I’m feeling the better man for the effort.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 6:15pm

That's the spirit Blowy.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

I focus's picture
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I focus commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 6:24pm

Thanks Pops exactly what I was looking for and GS some thing for me to aspire to.

I changed my resting heart rate from 72 to 50 by riding, what that did is allow me a recovery rate back to a higher level after say a set on the head or long paddle to outside reefs.

Agree on strength training / popup / feet placement and pacing to avoid injury long and short term all issues as you age at least for me.

Mates have natural talent plus strength / power to weight ratios get away with a lot less.

daisy duke kahanamoku's picture
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daisy duke kaha... commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 6:34pm

I'm still struggling with the term "popup" and cruelly I'll soon be struggling with the popup itself.

soggydog's picture
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soggydog commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 7:57pm

Check out the Joe Rogan podcast #1109. Doctor Andrew Walker professor of neuroscience and psychology and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. Lots of good info especially on physical performance.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 7:58pm

whats the gist of it Soggydog?

I can never get through those 3 hr podcasts.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 8:18pm

You'll have to summarise it for us Soggy, I fell asleep five minutes in.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

soggydog's picture
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soggydog commented Monday, 29 Jul 2019 at 10:57pm

Fully abbreviated, get a good 7.5 to 8 hrs a day for everything from the refinement of a practiced technique during sleep establishing new muscle memory, to decreased risk of cancer.
If you’re out doing a manual task smash it on your headphones, it’s a good one. I listen to them at work. ( self employed) .

kbomb's picture
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kbomb commented Sunday, 11 Aug 2019 at 10:40am

Gods Quad
A good full body strengrh training program will help you out, the stronger you are the better you will be.
Doing activities that are similar to surfing do not transfer to surfing. Surfing is a skill and can not be replicated by doing things such as swimming, running, rowing, martial arts etc. It just doesn't transfer.
Just because something is similar doesnt mean its the same. Piano players don't type on keyboards for practice.
Unfortunately the only way to get fit for surfing is to surf.

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ojackojacko commented Sunday, 11 Aug 2019 at 7:42pm

on the lap swimming, i grew up swimming (competitively) as a kid. gone away from it and back to it several times over the years just for fitness. FR is right that plodding laps is a poor return on time investment. zen has the right idea. i’ve found 4x50m sprints at 100% effort with 15 sec rest between to be the best return. in and out of the pool in 20 mins (change and shower included). full aerobic and cardio workout and dividends for paddling into waves and paddling generally. when i can’t get to the pool, substitute burpees (4x30 secs at full pace). 3 times per week, and resistance training (push ups, pull ups, 1-leg squats, abs work) on alternate days

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Jono commented Sunday, 11 Aug 2019 at 9:25pm

I also find lap swimming tedious, but one thing it does do is make you comfortable in the water without a board attached to your leg, which is one of my biggest worries when surfing on the edge of my comfort zone, eg. Can I stay calm and confident when the leggy snaps and I have to find a way back to the shore.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Monday, 12 Aug 2019 at 5:58am

I used to love cross country running swimming-- run a bush track around a few headlands and then swim home.
just feels too sharky around here now for that.

Solitude's picture
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Solitude commented Monday, 12 Aug 2019 at 8:56am

I think swimming is definitely better than not. If your paddling or swimming isn't as natural or competent as you'd like than laps will help.
My experience (I used to be a good competitive swimmer growing up) is that for me swimming does not translate greatly into paddle fitness in the ocean.
The position is so different. Paddling you’ve got your back into extension so you back and posterior should muscles are much more active than in swimming.
The closest you can get to that in the pool is the ‘waterpolo’ style freestyle. Bloody hard (harder than paddling).
I’m not saying swimming wouldn’t help but as had been mentioned very hard to substitute just getting out there and paddling in the real thing.
It amazing how first session after a few weeks out can be so draining but 2 or 3 in quick succession and bam the paddle fitness is back.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Monday, 12 Aug 2019 at 9:15am

Freeride what did you do with your runners?

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Monday, 12 Aug 2019 at 9:48am

what runners?

I ran it barefoot. it's just dirt track.

AndyM's picture
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AndyM commented Monday, 12 Aug 2019 at 10:04am

If you don't have your water bottle for hydration, your runners for orthopaedic support and your headphones for beats, you're clearly not getting the most out of the aerobic metabolism that cardio vascular exercise and Epic Hybrid Training can provide when done properly.

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dandandan commented Monday, 12 Aug 2019 at 10:10am

I agree with solitude - swimming is better than not swimming, but it's never had any 'surf specific' benefits for me in terms of paddling. Generally being fitter and more in tune with the ocean are the benefits for me, though I swim for the swimming's sake and not as a training thing. I've taken to it as just a way to get in the ocean when the waves are trash.

It's cliche, but I've found some benefits after years of almost-daily Ashtanga practice, in terms of general fitness and feeling like I can control my body. I don't think I'd have been able to stick that out if I was only seeing that as 'surf training;.

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goofyfoot commented Monday, 12 Aug 2019 at 10:18am

Andy you forgot the Fitbit, how many steps do you know you’ve taken? Sheessh

ojackojacko's picture
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ojackojacko commented Monday, 12 Aug 2019 at 10:58am

Andy - what brand of water gives the best Training Outcomes? Or should that be a new forum?

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channel-bottom commented Monday, 12 Aug 2019 at 11:13am

I follow most of this workout during the winter months when surf time is limited due to lack of daylight and work hours.

https://sbsboards.com/top-20-surfing-exercises-paddling-stability/

Also try and chuck in 2 x 1500 metre swims per week, for each 100 metres, I try and do 25 metre at sprint pace and the remaining 75 metres at regular pace. Essentially trying to mimic paddling for a wave.

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mickj commented Monday, 12 Aug 2019 at 1:17pm

Great topic.

For me, combo of gym, pool, pilates and the occasional soft sand run works pretty well.

Gym - structured mix of strength and CrossFit style workouts
Pool - part recovery, part cardio
Pilates - mobility, core work
Running - just cos its a good blowout, but I run a lot less than I used to
Foam rollers etc also useful on the lounge floor at night

I'm 39, and have pretty much traded my 2nd surf on most days for fitness work of some sort. Has been good for me in terms of keeping on top of old injuries/niggles, and staving off the worst of middle age...

I've gone pretty deep down the rabbit hole of programming actually, like the science of how to combine different elements etc. Agree with FR on the above, if you can't get to a pool or gym (or aren't interested), hard to beat a bodyweight complex of pull ups, push ups, burpees and squats in various rep schemes, and of course weights if you can add them.

Cheers,

Mick