Every year, surfers are faced with the tragedy of short winter daylight and a lack of summer swell, making it difficult to finish off a hard work day with the necessary surf session. The Surf Channel recommends CrossFit for great circuit training to improve your overall athletic abilities and agility in the water,especially for those tough days when the surf is flat or you just can’t beat the setting sun.
CrossFit is a strength training and conditioning program consisting of varied movements executed at high intensity. These workout regimes have been a strong addition for police, firefighters and during military training. Originally created in Santa Cruz, California, CrossFit has grown rapidly and as of 2007, became a competitive sport boasting some of the fittest athletes in the world.
A typical CrossFit workout consists of mobility and stretching such as warming up with running and body weight exercises, a strength/skills workout of the day (WOD) which includes many different types of olympic lifting, and then the metabolic conditioning WOD which is usually a short, but intense workout to send you home sweating and completely exhausted.
CrossFit training can improve strength and endurance. When the waves are pumping, surfing can be a full body workout. Two movements utilized frequently in CrossFit that can improve surfing are the squat and overhead push-press.
Body weight squats can improve power just as much as squatting with additional weights. The muscles that this exercise works are the quads, hamstrings, glutes and lower back. It is common to assume that the arms contain the most important muscles for surfing, however, for those really looking to up the endurance, the legs are where you should focus.
For example, when surfing long peeling waves like Lowers or Rincon, your legs start burning after doing a few turns. You can strengthen those quads and hamstrings to not feel the burn nearly as much and infuse more power into your surfing style.
The overhead push-press works out the shoulders – particularly the deltoids, trapezius and triceps. These muscle groups are essential for surfing and CrossFit can dramatically change the definition in the arms as well as improve strength. These muscles need to be strong in order to paddle and pop-up as well as push down for a good duck-dive.
Any time a barbell is above your head, you must have your arms locked out and extend your head through your shoulders. This is a great example of correct form shown by Barbara Bartee, co-owner of Beach Fitness/CrossFit Seal Beach. Photo: CrossFit Seal Beach
The push-press also conditions muscles in the legs such as the quads and hamstrings. A well executed push-press will activate all the muscles in the posterior chain of your legs. You don’t need to be super buff in order to achieve the level of strength necessary to be a strong paddler, just work on strengthening your core and everything else will follow.
CrossFit can improve skill, strength and style that will reflect in your surfing. CrossFit gyms are rapidly popping up in all beach cities around the country making it easier for surfers to get involved. Fitness is important in surfing and CrossFit is a great tool for achieving the level of fitness that many athletes desire.