Fit to Surf

May 1, 2006
Outside Magazine
Expert Advice

"When you're still learning, choose a quiet beach where you won't be in anyone's way. But at some point, you'll want to venture into some higher-performance breaks. Ease your way into the lineup. I always make eye contact with people to let them know, Yeah, I paddled out here, and I'm not trying to snake everybody, but I am expecting my turn and a good wave. Smiling helps." —Four-Time World Champ ('94–'97) Lisa Anderson

Surf Workouts

Surf Workouts

SURFING DAILY is the best way to stay wave-ready, but what if you live in Wichita? For you, we tapped Tim Brown, a physiologist who works with champ Kelly Slater, and Chicago's Pete Lambert, a phys-ed teacher who swims to stay in shape for Lake Michigan's sporadic breaks. Their plans build the strength, endurance, and balance needed to thrive on the waves.


Tim Brown's workout mimics the effort of paddling out. Twice a week, start with three 30-second sets of push-ups, switching from narrow to regular to wide arm placement with each set. Then do the six dumbbell lifts below, completing seven reps for each and three sets of the series, with no rest between lifts or sets. (Use enough weight so that it's difficult to do the seventh rep.) End with three sets of pull-ups, alternating a narrow, regular, and wide grip.

1. Reverse-Grip Curls
Hold the dumbbells on your thighs, palms facing your legs. Keeping your elbows tucked into your waist, slowly curl the weights to your shoulders, then lower them back down.

2. Front Military Press
Hold the dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing out. Press weights overhead and 12 inches in front of your head until arms are straight. Slowly lower to shoulders.

3. Bent-Over Rows
Holding dumbbells in each hand, bend forward at your hips while looking straight ahead and keeping your back flat, until your back is almost parallel to the floor. Lift weights to your chest, then slowly lower them back down.

4. Overhead Triceps Extensions
Press the dumbbells overhead. Keeping your elbows close to your head, slowly lower the weights behind you until your forearms are parallel to the ground, then slowly raise them back up.

5. Upright Rows
Hold the dumbbells against your thighs. Raise the weights to your shoulders, extending your elbows out to your sides (they should finish above your shoulders). Slowly lower them back down.

6. Behind-Back Upright Rows
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, behind you, with the backs of your hands against your butt. Slowly raise the dumbbells along your back as high as you can while keeping your wrists straight. Slowly lower them back down.


Pete Lambert builds lung power with pool workouts that approximate the stroke and effort needed to paddle out and catch a wave.

1. Twice a Week:
Swim 4 x 50 meters with a float buoy strapped to your feet, then 8 x 25 meters with your head above water.

2. Once a Week:
Sprint 6 x 100 meters, 8 x 50 meters, and 10 x 25 meters. Rest for 30 seconds between each interval.

3. Build your lung capacity by increasing the number of strokes you take between each breath, starting each lap at two and increasing to seven.


Brown suggests tuning your equilibrium with a balance trainer like the Indo Board ($100; Three six-minute balancing sessions per week, in a surfer's stance, should do the trick.

Level 1:
Keep the board level for 90 seconds; in this same position, bounce a tennis ball against a wall three feet away for 90 seconds; then stand still with your eyes closed for another 90 seconds. Master this, then take the exercises to the next level, and so on—without letting the board hit the floor.

Level 2:
Rock back and forth.

Level 3:
Stand still in a squat position.

Level 4:
Do slow squats.