View Full Version : Keen Surfer - Training Regime - Advice Appreciated!

Brook Ferguson
09-09-2010, 10:39 PM
G'day one and all,

Quite new here! So go easy.

Been reading a ton of info on Crossfit recently, Poliquin and lots of other strength based training.

One thing they have in common, is to lean down the best, they basically say that strength training is the way to go.

Im already quite fit, but sitting at around %15 bf and looking to get leaner, but also help my surfing out at the same time....

Ive also converted to Paleo about a month ago, and have seen the light. Awesome solution as Robb Wolf putts it. This has had the most affect on me. Will be sticking to this for my eating future.

I also got into the whole CHEK thing awhile ago, as he trained up Mick Fanning who now has two surfing world titles under his belt, and im still using a CHEK based approach to my training. Which is the following:

Program 1 - 3 sets at 1 minute intervals

Low to High Wood Chop with Standing Pull - Combo
Standing Dumbell Paddle on Bosu - Holding two 5 KG hand weights
Squat with 10 KG bar help above my head with straight arms
Swiss Ball Knee Balance with swapping feet
Swiss Ball Plank

Program 2 - 3 sets at 1 minute intervals
Power pushup with 5 kilo weights to burpee
Chins ups on straps - circular
Swiss Ball Squats with 5 KG med ball
Kettle Bell Swings

I alternate these programs week in week out. So 1 week ill do two sets of one program, next the other.

These are really hard. By the end I am feeling like ive had a very good workout.

My trainer has me doing that for 4 weeks (endurance). Then im onto strength and hypertrophy for 8 weeks, and then max strength after that, then max power, then a mix of all.

Seasonal based training, so by the end of the aussie summer I would of gone through an entire cycle.

My dilemma is, should I be starting out with strength rather than endurance? Or maybe look into the whole crossfit thing?

Obviously, I train to help me out with surfing, as I cant surf everyday. But with surfing the leaner you are the better off you are.

In the off days, im either doing 20 min sprints, or some swimming down the Olympic pool, and obviously surf as much as possible.

Thanks in advance, advice will be appreciated.



James Evans
09-10-2010, 02:08 AM

When I used to watch Home & Away they were always benching down the surf club. What gives?

Brook Ferguson
09-10-2010, 03:47 AM

When I used to watch Home & Away they were always benching down the surf club. What gives?

haha, nice one. i dont think any home n away person surf's :)

Garrett Smith
09-10-2010, 06:15 AM
Are you paying a trainer only to come here and question his/her advice?

Ryan Lyman
09-10-2010, 10:35 AM
I rarely post on forums, but since this is right up my alley, i'd drop my 2 cents:

- gym work doesn't transfers to major improvements in surfing, but could be useful for conditioning and perhaps more power. however, you want to get better at surfing: surf more. use different boards: Logs, twin-fins, eggs, thrusters, quads, one mans. go body surf, dive, paddle, swim to maintain some endurance. stay out of the pool if you can.

- hypertrophy work and surfing don't mix. stretching and surfing do. i found hill sprints and the C2 would work wonders as well. after playing with my prowlers, i could see that working.

- the more i get into training the more i think Kelly had it right back in 2002ish. his routine consisted of lots of leg work and a boat load of stretching. i realize the fascination behind Mick, especially from an aussie, but the freak has 9 world titles. not sure if he squated, but i could see some 3-5 reps and under working, w/o packing on too much meat. lots of bang for the buck there

- this might be getting a little geeky, but look at the type of surf you typically tackle. beach breaks require more sprint work. point breaks need more endurance stuff. tow-ins need more work underwater/mental work...etc.

- unless its firing, limit marathon sessions. one hour tops, refuel, rest/nap, repeat. catch as much waves as you can in that hour. if you can find the time do that 2-4x / day

- xfit....i ran with that for a while, and it worked wonders for several months. then my shoulders started to hurt from those damn pull-ups. read lots of stuff from gant, DJ, JW, etc. and started questioning xfit. left it a year ago, got into smarter programming, stopped doing stupid shit and what do you know, i got stronger and was in less pain. i see the benefit in the metcons, though i rarely do them now, but if you keep them to BW stuff (w/o kipping in any form), maybe some KBs, Litvis, sprints, it could work. don't get hurt and take care of your shoulders

- squat! look at any surfer and 99% have chicken and/or weak legs.....major imbalance there. the exceptions are carroll, kelly, sunny, poncho. make your legs strong, your turns will throw more chunks. (C&J's and Snatches would definitely work, if you can find a proper coach....but that could get you addicted to olys.) we all can't be as smooth as parko or a quick as mick...

to sum: my advice would be to squat, sprint, stretch and surf....lots and lots of surfing

Brook Ferguson
09-10-2010, 03:35 PM
Are you paying a trainer only to come here and question his/her advice?

yes. this is a healthy thing to do. i am not that uneducated on the whole fitness thing, and do value the opinions of others.

one thing ive found about fitness training, is to always keep reading, ask questions, come to your own conclusions.

sorry, to add a bit more, ive been seeing this guy for awhile. just making sure im on the right track....

Ryan, that is a gold response. thanks very much. yeah ive got to back into the stretching. i started the power yoga awhile, then got sick, and stopped, and have not been back since. ive got to get back into it....

i do surf as much as i can, this winter for Sydney Australia however, surf wise, has been quite poor. i do sprints when i can, and swim....

Paul Epstein
09-16-2010, 01:06 AM
i was in the northern beaches a couple of weeks ago and all i can say is if you think the surf in sydney has been poor you should see how bad Perth is (every winter):mad:

Troy Kerr
09-16-2010, 05:06 AM
I would follow something along the lines of starting strength for lower body. Rotate between squats, deadlifts, and powercleans. For upper body I would stick to more of a gymnastic base.with ring dips, handstandpushups, pullup, hell maybe even some static holds from Coach Sommers book, Building the Gymnastic Body. Robb wolf followed a similar training program when training Glenn Cardoza, a MMA fighter. Basically use functional/ compound movements overall. Bodyweight strength movements for the upper body, and weightlifting for the lower.
But the bottom line is, nothing will translate to surfing as much as SURFING. If you need additional conditioning, stick with something anaerobic ( sprints, rower intervals, prowler pushes).

I have never tried surfing but respect it as one hell of an intense sport.

Kyle Collins
10-01-2010, 05:29 PM
I live on the east coast USA (one of the worst places in the world for surf that borders a major body of water). And I am in the water constantly. So I know you can find some surf. This has done wayyyy more for improving my surfing than anything else I have tried.

Unfortunately between all the time I spend in the water and all the mobility, foam roll, stretching I do to stay healthy, I do not have much time to lift. Right now all I do is deadlift 2-3x a week 3x5 with 3-5 warmup sets.

It's also really hard for me to get in enough calories while eating paleo to sustain all of that activity

With surfing its good to be lean but its also good to be strong/explosive. Which is why I choose to lift as opposed to doing any sort of conditioning whatsoever. I get my endurance/conditioning in the water. And just try to get stronger with any spare time I have after that.

I could be completely wrong I'm far from an expert, I just find it fun to read about fitness and health.


One thing I had a question about for anyone on here, super long periods of exercise. When the surf gets good I stay in the water till I am absolutely exhausted, then stay in for another hour. It's really really difficult for me to get out of the water... too much fun.... I'm sure this isn't good for my body.

So I should probably get out and stretch and eat.... But I have to get it in when I can before work and all that...

What am I doing to my body? Best way to get lots of time in the water/limit damage?

Ryan Lyman
10-02-2010, 01:06 AM

health-wise, the only thing i can think of, based on my experience, will or is chronic shoulder problems from excessive paddling. but that took 15+ years to catch up with me. i am sure there are other issues (like skin cancer, pterygiums, etc.), but i have yet to experience anything else.

performance-wise - Its hard to be explosive while doing marathon sessions. hey, i am just as guilty of staying out way too long, disregarding all responsibilities, especially when it firing....most of us do that. but as i look back at my time spent in the water, i wonder if it did more harm than good to my surfing and especially my ability to explode when it matters.

i remember specific instances of my surfing going to shit after 2-3 hours....after 4+ hours it gets pathetic....perhaps its my age catching up to me. but i'd probably bet my house that multiple sessions of 30-90 min / day (scrambling to catch as many waves as you can in this time frame) with rest, naps and clean re-feeds (paleo as the foundation + dairy + lots of fruits and oatmeal) in between would do more for your surfing than one session of 4-6 hours followed by a binge, nap and perhaps another 1 hour afternoon sesh. you could probably liken it to pavel's quote of '... training as often as possible while being as fresh as possible...' you are just not fresh after 2 hours in the water, much less 4+ hours.

i also still believe that some degree of outside training is beneficial to surfing, but definitely should be secondary. i agree that conditioning is not entirely necessary (especially if you are hustling to catch everything in sight), though that would depend on the individual. multiple/short stretching (both static and dynamic) and foam rolling sessions are a must. yoga, i think, takes up too much valuable time. i am very skeptical of the use of balance training other than for the elite. i would definitely snatch, C&J, and squat, but perhaps i am bias because these lifts bring me more joy now than spending time w/ some of the morons that fill the waters now. however, the oly lifts could also take up too much time (to do it right), so that verifies my bias. that would leave squats (i would prefer that over DLs). My guess is PTTP or EtKB would probably be very appropriate, though i have done neither to backup my surfing.

anyways, my 2 cents...


Kyle Collins
10-03-2010, 05:05 PM
Thanks Ryan.

The shoulders has already caught up with me, I had 2 shoulder surgeries due to many dislocations, mostly in the water. I feel like I have that under control however with all the stretching and foam rolling I do. I'm going on 2 years post op and my shoulders feel healthier, stronger, and in better shape than ever. I'm 23 so in some ways I guess I was fortunate to learn young to treat my shoulders right. The marathon sessions aren't really treating them right though.

I like your idea of the short sessions, which I will be using this winter when I'm traveling in Central America. No need to marathon when the surf isn't going anywhere and you don't have to work! (Treating myself to some post-college traveling before I grow up)

I've been experimenting with yoga lately and I pretty much agree with you, takes up too much time for not a ton of benefit. Although I have learned some stretches I like. Time much better spent doing Inside-Out/Magnificent Mobility stuff and foam roll+ specific static stretches. Foam rolling the lats after a marathon session is crazy, hurts so good.

The balance training is interesting. The only balance type stuff that I feel like has helped my surfing is skateboarding and maybe the single leg work. I cannot do indo boards or swiss ball or anything like at all but I surf fairly well for an east coast guy.

Brook Ferguson
10-05-2010, 04:33 PM
Interesting stuff.

Re: Yoga, yeah I find it soaks up a hell of a lot of time. Im all ears for a better solution though. The fact that you find the foam roller better for stretching is interesting. Can you point me in a direction where I can get some more info here.

Re the gym training. Ive been on a strength program and Paleo for awhile now. Ive dropped around 3 kilo's and im much leaner (still have to get my bf done)

But I know im heaps stronger, and which is probably a mental thing in the surf, but I rekon I can feel the difference.



Kyle Collins
10-06-2010, 06:14 PM
Re: Yoga, yeah I find it soaks up a hell of a lot of time. Im all ears for a better solution though. The fact that you find the foam roller better for stretching is interesting. Can you point me in a direction where I can get some more info here.

I started out foam rolling using Feel Better for 10 bucks off of T-nation.

Then I did the foam rolling out of max strength by Cressey.

Now I have Mike Robertsons soft tissue E-manual and do the max strength + anything that feels like it needs it. I do a static stretch on the muscle immediately after rolling it.

I think the DVD Inside-Out by Hartman/Robertson is amazing for surfing, much more time efficient than yoga, I do it before I leave the house then do a couple more right before I paddle out.

However that neglects the lower-body. Magnificient Mobility or Asesss and correct is complete body.

I do Assess and Correct as general maintenance.

I just realized my entire mobility/prehab routine is based around Cressey/Robertson/Hartman. Not sure if thats good or bad. Need to try out some new people!

Ben Moskowitz
10-06-2010, 08:23 PM
I just realized my entire mobility/prehab routine is based around Cressey/Robertson/Hartman. Not sure if thats good or bad. Need to try out some new people!

I like those guys too but you could check out Kelly Starrett's MobilityWod (http://mobilitywod.blogspot.com/) too. good stuff.

Brook Ferguson
10-11-2010, 10:59 PM
I like those guys too but you could check out Kelly Starrett's MobilityWod (http://mobilitywod.blogspot.com/) too. good stuff.

awesome stuff in there.... thanks very much...