What Are The Muscles Used In Surfing?

Last updated on: December 3, 2023
What Are The Muscles used in surfing?

Muscles used in surfing

What are the muscles used in surfing? In this article, we will explore important muscle groups and how they affect your surfing abilities.

Surfing is a full-body workout that requires physical strength, balance, endurance, and technique. When surfing, you will be using your core muscles, as well as the muscles of your arms, shoulders, chest, back, and legs. 

The most involved muscles in surfing are: 

  • Deltoids (shoulders)
  • Rotator cuff (shoulders)
  • Pectorals “pecs” (chest)
  • Triceps (arms)
  • Abdominals (abs)
  • Obliques 
  • The spinal erectors (abs)
  • Latissimus dorsi (lower back)
  • trapezius (upper back)
  • Rhomboids (upper back)
  • Glutes
  •  Hamstrings – Biceps femoris (legs)
  • Quads – Quadriceps femoris (legs)

Surfing is way harder and much more demanding than it looks, and the sport has a steep learning curve for beginners. Knowing the different muscle groups used in surfing will help you progress faster and steer clear of injuries.

The muscles used for paddling

Paddling is arguably the most demanding part of surfing, and beginners often get surprised about how much strength and endurance it takes to paddle. Surfers spend more than 60% of their time in the water paddling, so it’s important to be familiar with the active muscles behind this technique.

Strong triceps and shoulders are a crucial part of your padel endurance, as they are used to create momentum. You need to have a good range of motion in your shoulders and rotator cuff to be able to perform the paddling motion.

If you lay flat on the surfboard, you will not have a good range of motion in your shoulders. Therefore you need to squeeze your glutes and the lower part of your back while raising your upper body – this will set you up for a good paddle posture.

Your core muscles, including abs and lower back, will help you keep a stable position on the surfboard, while your upper back muscles are important in keeping your upper body raised from the board.

The muscles used for the "pop-up technique"

When performing a pop-up on your surfboard, your chest and triceps play an important role, as well as your core muscles used for stability.

The final part of the pop-up is your stance on the surfboard and this is where your leg muscles come into play.

The muscles used for riding the wave

When you’re actually riding the wave, the most important muscle groups are your legs and core muscles.

Your hamstrings and quads need to be strong to help with stability and grip. They will also be the key to generating speed when doing the pumping technique. Your core muscles provide stability and control used while performing maneuvers such as bottom-turns, carves, cutbacks, and aerials.

Ligaments and tendons

Surfing consists of a lot of explosive movements that put pressure on your ligaments and tendons. The function of a body’s tendons is to move the bone and structure, which is constantly needed when you’re surfing. Ligaments are fibrous connective tissue that attaches bones to each other and provides structure and stability. 

With this knowledge in mind, it’s just as important to take care of your ligaments and tendons as it is to train for muscle growth. By strengthening ligaments and tendons, you reduce the risk of injuries. If you want your tendons and ligaments to stay healthy, you should focus on diet and training/stretching

The best way to do this is to implement a good stretch routine before and after your surf sessions or by doing yoga or pilates. You can find specific yoga programs for surfers

Strength, balance, and technique

As you may know by now, surfing is a sport that requires strength, balance, and technique. That’s why surfers will quickly develop good flexibility and endurance. Surfing is a great way to keep in shape, not only for the body but also for the mind, as you get to connect with nature, overcome fears and reduce your overall stress levels.

Many people experience the benefits of surfing as the increase in flexibility, balance, and strength makes many daily activities less challenging. Many surfers also get rid of pain related to a sedentary job or experience a more calm mental state, when they surf regularly.

Workouts for surfers

As many will tell you, the best training is to get into the ocean and practice surfing. However, it can be very beneficial to do some specific workouts before getting started or in addition to your regular surf sessions. 

A workout for surfers will build strength to improve paddling, balance to give control, and strengthen ligaments and tendons to avoid injuries. 

We recommend implementing a surf-specific workout in your weekly training to help you improve faster and become a better surfer.    

Bodyweight Surf Training Program by Surf Strength Coach
Bodyweight Surf Training Program by Surf Strength Coach
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