Maintaining Surfing Fitness During A Dry Spell
Dry spells happen. Its just a fact of life. Whether in girls or in waves, there will come a time when the wells of excess stop flowing, but despite your lack of success, you will need to maintain a level of fitness for when the tides of fortune turn again. (This can also apply to surfing!)
We sat down with Dan Mori, the head coach of Fulcrum Surf Camp and former WQS ripper to find out a few things a motivated surfer can do to carry them through the dry spell. These exercises will help keep you in top surfing shape, allowing you to fully rip in your next session, rather than having a slow adjustment period.
The four areas that Dan stressed as the most important to maintain are: paddling strength, explosive strength in the legs, general cardio/endurance and core body strength. Here is an example exercise to work on each.
1. Bottom Turn Squats - By simulating the position of a backside bottom turn and performing slow squats at body weight, you can ensure that your legs will be able to handle long drawn out turns and explosive releases. To do this exercise, place a balance ball between you and the wall. Start with your legs as far apart as you would with your surfing stance. As you drop into your bottom turn position make sure to lean forward and back like you would on the turn. The ball will keep your center of gravity supported and allow for fluid transitions.
Make sure your back knee is bent and leaning inward slightly, square up your shoulders and look "down the line". Slowly dip into positions, hold for between 2-4 seconds and then come up slowly. You want to make sure everything is fluid like when you surf. If you pop up to quickly it will not train you for properly coming out of a turn and if you do that in real life, you'll loose your line, balance and any chances of hitting the lip.
2. Go Paddle - Go spend $100 on a foam board, or pick up a used longboard in decent shape. On flat days, take it out and go paddle around for an hour. This will keep your arms, shoulders and back in paddling condition so that when the waves do pick up, your sessions are longer and you can beat out other guys to the waves. Just about any board will do, even a big blue foam one. Pick a local spot with an enjoyable view and long stretch of coast, paddle up the coast for half an hour, turn around and paddle back. Some of the peripheral benefits of surfing are maintained, like getting away from distractions and being able to enjoy the outdoors. If you want to mix it up here are a few ways to differentiate paddle sessions. Tempo Paddle - paddle up the coast for 35 minutes and try to make it back in 25. Fartleks - (it means speed play in Sweedish) After a few minutes of warming up start giving it a burst of speed for :30 seconds every 5 minutes or so, this will simulate the burst of speed you need to paddle for a wave. Paddle With A Buddy - Its always fun to have someone along for the ride, at a good paddling speed you should be able to maintain a light conversation without being too winded.
3. - Jump Rope - This exercise will work on a number of factors if done properly, so no, double dutch doesn't count. Go get a standard jump rope and start jumping at a moderate pace, slowly bring the pace up and then back down again, switching every minute or so. This will work on your cardio and ability to increase pace when needed but the key is to focus on how you jump. You can work on a few types of jumps to strengthen various parts of your legs. By jumping higher and from the quads, you will work on the explosive strength you will need to make vertical turns. By staying on your toes you can work on your calves and muscles used for front side surfing while staying on your heels will work the muscles you use on your back side.
4. Core Strength - Your core is used any time you are turning, squatting or even just staying balanced while paddling. Keeping it strong will help prevent injuries while also increasing the smoothness and flow of your surfing. Push ups and sit ups are a great place to start, but there are a bunch of specific ways to do them that work on particular parts of your abs including the sides, lower parts etc. Do some research and find a nice mix then set up a circuit for yourself. A good way to do it is to switch every :30 seconds between 6 routines and do about 9-12 minutes total.