Build your surfing fitness by going to the pool

Keep up the winter training and get yourself ready for surfing

Is it a bit too chilly for you to hit the waves in February?

Maybe you don't feel like getting a ducking in sub-zero temperatures?

But with the arrival of spring, you want to be physically fit enough to enjoy the waves as soon as you take to your board and paddle out through the surf.

Why not spend some time at the pool this winter to keep in top physical condition for surfing?

surf hiver entrainement piscine condition physique

Why the pool? Because the movements you make when doing the crawl are very similar to those you need as a surfer. By the way, did you know that surfers spend more than 80% of their time paddling in the water?

It's easy to see why it's best not to cut out your training completely during the winter. Otherwise when you get back out there, your shoulders will be begging you to take a break within half an hour!

So what I've got for you here is a specific surfing swimming session, co-designed with teams from Nabaiji, the Decathlon swimming brand.


Why a specific swim session with surfing in mind and not just doing lengths?

Because the effort required for surfing isn't continuous. It has its specifics.

Our training is structured around two things you need in surfing:

- Endurance and power to get beyond the break zone

- Explosiveness for the pop-up.


To progress through the break zone you need endurance and power

Paddling through the break zone requires endurance more than anything else, because it may take a few minutes.

But unlike a conventional endurance effort, here you'll regularly be knocked back by breaking waves and you'll need to bust through them.

You'll lose your momentum easily and things aren't helped by the fact that you won't have much time to rest.

Another thing to consider here is the power-endurance ratio.

Would you rather paddle out gently for 15 minutes to move out through the break zone, or bust through powerfully and get out beyond the waves in 5 minutes?

Obvious! The more time you spend in the break zone, the more waves you'll have to deal with and the more you'll be hit back and turned over into the water.

The sort of training you need to do to build a good power-endurance ratio is split times of short distances (25/50/100 m) repeated and interspersed with recovery time (between 10s and 30s), swimming at a regular speed or varying intensity.

You might do one or more sets of splits, depending on your fitness and how much you're pushing yourself.

Don't forget to build in some recovery time!


- 6 x 100 m freestyle, 30 seconds recovery between each. One slow, one average, one fast (3 times)

- 10 x 50 m, once every minute, then the recovery time depends on how fast you do the 50 m


To pop up right you need explosiveness

Popping up is a very short phase in surfing, but also sooo important . . .

You need a lot of power and intensity all in one rapid movement so as to catch the wave. Plus you need to stay lucid while you're doing it and hold your body just right to stand up.

Part of the work you need to do to improve your technique can be achieved by doing push-ups, abs and crunches . . .

Through swimming, we're getting you to work your explosiveness in the form of sprints, making some timely use of pads and resistance gloves.

The exercises can be divided into two: a series of pure sprints or distances interspersed with floor strengthening exercises.

entrainement piscine surf hiver


- 8 x 25 m: 10 m flat out and 15 m slow, 20 seconds recovery between each

- 200 m fitness: at each 25 m, do a short floor fitness exercise, such as 5 push-ups, 10 abs, 5 crunches; push-ups on the edge of the pool with the body in the water, 5 take-offs, 5 bends

Note: Always follow the pool safety rules! Unfortunately, some pools won't let you do these kinds of exercises beside the pool.


How many times should I go each week?


It all depends on your objectives and the amount of actual surfing you're going to do in the winter.

If you aren't going to do any, going once a week to the pool will be a minimum to maintain your fitness.

If you're motivated enough to go 2-3 times a week through the winter, then you'll build up your fitness nicely. And no doubt about it, you'll be in tip top shape for the spring!


Can I paddle with my surfboard in the pool?

Don't laugh! You can actually do this at a few pools!

For example, if you're in Conway, North Wales, Surf Snowdonia offers training in the swimming pool, combining swimming with paddling on boards as well as some dunking!


Sources :

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5