Aleksei Stojanovic
July 20, 2020

What is the best way to stay in shape for surfing? Well it's simple, just paddle out and go surf. However, that’s not the reality, is it? Staying in high performance shape for the conditions we all dream of during that juicy winter swell cannot all be accomplished in the water. In a perfect world maybe, but the truth is the conditions at your local surf spot are not able to keep you in shape enough to reach your desired performance level when that swell is pushing you to your limit.

We all wish we could paddle out and surf for a few hours everyday but that is not always possible. Even if that were the case, that’s still not enough to keep you in shape and ready for that dreamy swell. Pro surfer Cody Thompson stresses tailoring gym workouts to each essential part of surfing. With his success and ten years of experience as a professional athlete in the surf industry he has deemed six exercises essential to getting in tip top shape for when conditions ramp up and you are surfing competitively in conditions may be testing your limits.


In an article published by Cody Thompson goes in-depth about his recommended workout routine for surf fitness. These exercises have been divided into two sections with three exercises each; upper body and lower body. For upper body training Cody Thompson recommends TRX rows, bosu ball push ups, and band rotation. TRX rows condition you for paddling as Cody Thompson states “Paddling is essentially just pulling yourself through the water. So, if we can increase our pull strength and pull endurance, we can catch more waves and surf longer.” (Shaw 2018). Bosu ball push ups mimic the pushing motion of a pop-up, by incorporating push strength, core strength, and balance all in one exercise you are bound to improve your pop up speed and strength with this exercise!

Last but not least, band rotations, this exercise accomplishes a few things but focuses on strengthening and toning your core. Your core is where the foundation of all of the strength in movement takes place in surfing and with band rotations you can train yourself to move better in all planes of motion. Resulting in more power in your turns! And more speed going down the line. In terms of lower body strength and conditioning for surf fitness Cody Thompson stresses these three workouts; single leg balance reach, rear foot elevated split squat, and squat jumps. His reasoning behind single leg balance reach being that “It covers all three planes of motion and will work the heck out of the stabilizer muscles while improving balance and motor control.” (Shaw 2018).

Next, the rear foot elevated split squat; get ready to sweat and test your balance because this exercise uses all of your muscles from the core down to the floor! Cody Thompson says this is one of the most beneficial exercises by far! This exercise will take your balance to the next level, giving you the edge on days of choppy waves and tough drop-ins. The last exercise to take your surf performance to the next level (when you’re out of the water) is squat jumps. Squat jumps are known for getting you that bubble butt, but what does that bubble butt do for you when you're surfing? It brings you power in your pump and turns. Cody Thompson also brings up a good point in the landing portion of the squat jump, in high performance surfing, wipeout recovery can be a huge hurdle and Cody Thompson mentions  “I think there are great benefits in the landing portion of the squat jump, as well. As surfers, we are exposed to free falling from heights that require strong and stable hips, knees, and ankles to support us upon impact.” (Shaw 2018).

These tips and exercises will take your performance to new heights! These are just six essential exercises provided by Cody Thompson. You can find more information on this workout by going to “Six exercises to improve your surfing today” by Matthew Shaw posted on As well as Cody Thompson’s tutorial videos linked in this blog article.

We also highly recommend “Top 20 surf fitness exercises for power, strength, and stability”, as well as a variety of Hydromind’s posts on surf fitness covering all your concerns in breath training, paddle strength, reading the waves and much more!

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