Physical fitness is a must for good surfing. How do you get in shape and prepare yourself for the surfing season? How do you stay in shape to be ready when the next good swell arrives? What are the ingredients for you to be physically fit? In this article, I will lay out a plan that will be suitable for the majority of the surfers. Physical fitness should be incorporated in your surfer's lifestyle.

For the majority of surfers, your surfing is limited to weekends and for most of you, the surfing season, which is normally spring, summer, and the autumn time of the year. Some of you who are deeply occupied with work and raising a young family will only surf when you are on vacation or at most once a week or every other week. Many of you live a long way from your surf spots, which makes it very difficult for you to get in the water.

The important thing is for you to be in good physical condition to paddle and surf when the occasion arises. Once you have the proper surfboard type and surfing accessories, you need to be in decent shape so that when you get in the water you have enough energy to paddle out into the break and get a good wave count. If you are exhausted from the initial paddle out and are not able to keep paddling out through the surf after each wave, you are going to have a terrible session. What a bummer.

How do you prepare for surfing if you are a weekend or vacation surfer? You stay in the gym with a good workout regimen, you do cardiovascular exercise and you learn to eat properly.

What is a good workout for surfing? I believe that every muscle group should be worked out each week. The muscle groups are the chest, shoulders, back, legs, arms and core. Your workout regimen will depend on the time you have available. If you can spend an hour in the gym 5 days a week, you can do a different muscle group each day. If you can make it only 3 days a week, you will have to double up on the muscle groups during each workout.

Some of you can only go to the gym one or two days a week. What do you do? Well, you are going to have to supplement your workouts in the gym with exercises and or workouts at home or in your office. The main thing is to "just do it" as Nike says.

I would suggest that when you initially start working out with weights that you hire a professional trainer if you can afford to do so. If you cannot afford a trainer, workout with a friend who is familiar with weight training or go online and research workouts for the different muscle groups. One very important thing to remember is to start out with very light weights and do a lot of repetitions. You are not doing this to be a body builder. You are working out to get and maintain all parts of your body in good physical condition. You want to build muscle tone and not muscle mass.

Working out at home or in your office can be very productive also. You can do pushups, abdominal crunches, leg squats and all kinds of exercises with bungees. You can also practice pop-ups where you lay flat on your stomach and with your arms you pop-up to your feet and take a surfers stance in one motion. It is very important for you to get your shoulders, back, legs and core muscles in good shape. In addition, you should also take fast walks or even running during your work breaks, that is, if there is a shower facility available. You need to build up your wind by doing cardiovascular exercising because paddling your surfboard requires lung capacity and endurance.

Eating properly is also another key to good physical conditioning, good health and good surfing. Not eating properly will result in either being overweight or being too skinny and underweight and weak. If you do not eat properly, your body will not be strong and you will not have the endurance necessary for surfing.
Here is a sample menu of daily proper eating:

General MENU Suggestion: (See special note below)

Start each day with 1 or 2 cups of green tea

Meal #1. 1/3 Cup Oatmeal w/small banana (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), shot of honey, and soy milk, 4 egg whites fried in olive oil (first 4 months) (1 egg yoke after), one pineapple spear (mango, papaya, grapes)

#2. 1 cup brown rice, one tomato, 2 stalks celery (or green beans, spinach or broccoli), one bbq'd skinless chicken thigh with fat trimmed off or meat substitute, sliced mango or pineapple if available.

#3. one bbq'd skinless chicken thigh, meat, or fish, ½ boiled yam/potato/brown rice, green beans, spinach or broccoli, tomato

#4. Afternoon snack: celery stalks/apple with peanut butter or walnuts/almonds and dried cranberries

#5. Salad with tomatoes, scallions, chopped celery, hard boiled egg, 2 table spoons cottage cheese, one skinless chicken thigh. (or as an alternative, a bowl of broccoli, tomatoes,onions, avocado, chopped chicken with balsamic vinegar dressing, walnuts/almonds and dried cranberries) Mix it up!

#6. ½ cup cottage cheese with blueberries, blackberries, or tomato and celery, scallions, broccoli (all optional)
You can substitute wild ocean fish (also, canned tuna fish or salmon) for chicken. You can also eat lean meat about once a week.

Drink 8 oz. glass of room temperature water with each meal, except at night... drink water all day between meals! You can substitute green tea.

Note: all cooking is done with extra virgin olive oil.

Special Note: Gals, smaller kids, and Baby Boomers may want to cut these portions to smaller quantities.
This sounds boring, but once you get acclimated you will enjoy the food and wonder how you could have abused yourself by eating the "normal" way. Once in a while it's OK to have a hamburger and French fries or you favorite dessert, but keep it to a minimum.

Take this menu as a recommendation and not gospel. I give this to you from personal experience and at the advice of my personal trainer who is trained and very knowledgeable in nutrition. I changed my eating habits four years ago and adopted the menu I laid before you. Over a period of time, I lost 30 lbs and my waist size dropped 4 inches. I have been able to maintain my weight and my surfing and daily life has improved greatly.

I believe that proper eating is actually more important than physical training, but the two go hand in hand. If you look around you, you will see the majority of the population abusing their bodies by over eating. It is very hard on one's body to be carrying around extra baggage in the form of weight. It's hard on your joints and makes physical activity like surfing very difficult.

Get in shape, stay in shape and enjoy your surfing sessions. Enjoy how you look and feel. Carry physical training and proper eating over to your everyday life style and you will be surfing waves with more precision and you will definitely be Surfing Life, feeling much better physically and mentally.

Oak Street Surf was founded by Chuck Herpick, a Stanford graduate and former Naval Aviator, an accomplished surfer who has spent his lifetime in or near the ocean surfing most of the California and Hawaii breaks over the many years.

Chuck has been a friend and associate with legendary surfer Tom Morey who invented the Morey Boogie Board. Together, he and Tom have designed and made many different types of soft and hard surfboards and other surfing products.