The Surfer’s Guide to Summer Fitness

Pro surfing’s go-to trainer Paul Hiniker lays down 10 steps to get your body ready for anything this summer


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Laird Hamilton. Kelly Slater. Joel Parkinson. Don’t let the chill surfer vibe fool you: these guys didn’t get their killer beach bodies from charging waves alone. They also work hard on land. 

“There’s not anyone on a professional level who isn’t involved in some type of training regimen,” says Encinitas, California-based trainer Paul Hiniker, who sculpts athletes for Oakley, Rip Curl, Reef, and Cali’s Finest, and has worked with pro surfers Taylor Knox, Sebastian “Seabass” Zietz, and Julian Wilson, to name a few.

The key to a surfer’s success, Hiniker says, is performing exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once to develop balance, stability, flexibility, and muscle endurance. “Surfers don’t operate in just a sagittal plane like runners,” he says. “They have to make sure their bodies are worked overall because they’ve got a wave that’s moving in one direction, a board that’s moving in 20 directions, and there’s a lot of stress that gets put on the joints.”

The result of all that dry-land bomb-proofing: a body prepared to handle whatever the ocean throws at it.

Want to get ready for anything summer can throw at you? Hiniker’s 10-step circuit workout, below, featuring pro surfer Taylor Knox, will get you there. Do it three to four times a week for at least two weeks before you hit the beach to see results.

What you’ll need: A Swiss ball

Beginners can do the circuit one to two times through, while advanced athletes should do it six to 10 times.

1. Plank Roll


How to do it: Put your forearms on the Swiss ball. Elevate your torso so it’s parallel to the ground. Keep your legs straight, and your feet hip’s width apart. Then roll your elbows away from your body, and bring them back in.

Reps: 12 to 15

What it works: Core, shoulders, lats, back, and legs

2. Contralateral Superman


How to do it: Face down with your torso on the Swiss ball, your hands and feet on the ground. Raise your right arm and left leg until they’re parallel to the ground, keeping your core tight. Hold for a count, then return to the starting position. Then raise your left arm and right leg.

Reps: 12 to 15

What it works: Core, neck, biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, hamstrings, glutes, inner and outer thighs  

3. Press and Pike

How to do it: Keeping your core tight and your body straight, do a push up with your legs on the Swiss ball. Then, keeping your legs straight and your toes pointed, pull your glutes upward into a pike.

Reps: 6 to 10

What it works: Chest, shoulders, triceps, core, hip flexors

4. Forward Lunge with Trunk Rotation


How to do it: Start standing with your feet hip’s width apart, holding the Swiss ball straight out in front of you. Lunge forward. Keep your legs at 90-degree angles, and do not let your front knee bend past your toes. Rotate your arms with the ball out to the side of your forward foot. Return to standing position, then repeat on the other side.

Reps: 10 on each side

What it works: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, outer and inner thighs, shoulders, chest, stability

5. Supine Lateral Ball Roll


How to do it: Sit on the ball, then walk your legs out so that your shoulder blades are resting on the ball, and your legs are at a right angle. Keeping your core tight, hold your arms straight out to your sides. Shuffle to the right until you feel your right shoulder blade come off of the ball, then shuffle to the left until you feel your left shoulder blade come off of the ball.

Reps: 6 on each side

What it works: Core, glutes, hamstrings, back, rear shoulders, and your proprioception

6. Scorpion


How to do it: Start in a push up position with your thighs on the Swiss ball. Bend your left leg at a 90-degree angle, then extend it up like you’re pressing your heel to the sky. Rotate your torso to the left, pulling your right knee up toward your left shoulder. Return to neutral, repeat on the other side, keeping your torso parallel to the ground throughout the exercise.

Reps: 6 on each side

What it works: Shoulders, chest, back, core, inner and outer thighs, hip rotators.

7. Windmill


How to do it: Lie on the ground with your arms out to your sides, the backs of your hands touching the ground. With the Swiss ball between your legs, raise your legs up so they’re at a 90-degree angle to your torso. Drop your legs to your left side, making sure your shoulder blades remain on the ground. Stop the ball 2 to 5 inches above the ground, hold for one count, then bring legs back to vertical. Repeat to the right side. If your shoulder blades are coming off of the ground, reduce your range of motion.

Reps: 6 on each side

What it works: Back, shoulders, core, inner thighs

8. Glute Raise-Hamstring Curl


How to do it: Stay on your back. Put your ankles on the Swiss ball about hip width apart. Elevate your glutes off of the ground, then draw your heels in toward your glutes, keeping your stomach and quads in a perfect line. Extend the legs and slowly bring the glutes to the ground. Repeat.

Reps: 10 to 12

What it works: Posterior chain, shoulders, core

9. Side Plank with External Rotation


How to do it: Lay on your side with the Swiss ball between your feet. Put your right arm directly beneath your shoulder and press up. Elevate your hips off of the ground, and point your left arm straight in the air. Reach underneath your body with your top arm to touch the ground, then bring the arm back up into the vertical position, squeezing your shoulder blades. Repeat on other side.

Note: If it’s too difficult to do this with your bottom arm extended, rest on your forearm instead of your hand. “If you’re falling backward,” Hiniker says, “You’re doing it right. It’s not dangerous, but hard.”

Reps: 10 on each side

What it works: Shoulders, core, obliques, quads, outer thighs, hip rotators, and your balance

10. Russian Twist

(ostill/Shutterstock )

How to do it: Sit on the ball, then roll out until your shoulders are on the ball, and your legs are at a 90-degree angle. Keep your hips and torso parallel to the ground. Interlock your hands straight up above you, then rotate your torso to the right until you roll up onto the side of your right shoulder. Return to the starting position. “You want to keep your hips parallel to the ground. They will deviate slightly, but try to keep them as parallel as possible,” Hiniker says.

Reps: 10 to 15 to each side

What it works: Inner and outer thighs, hip stabilizers, core, shoulders, back, posterior chain

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