Is surfing a good way to Lose weight?

Surfing is often seen as the quintessential beach activity and a fun way to pass the time at the ocean. But did you know that surfing can also be an excellent form of exercise and help you lose weight?

Many people are unaware of the physical demands of surfing and the workout it provides. Contrary to popular belief, surfing involves much more than just sitting on a board waiting for a wave. It requires immense strength, endurance, and balance to paddle out through the surf, pop up on the board, and ride the waves.

Here are some quick answers to common questions about surfing and weight loss:

Does Surfing Burn a Lot of Calories?

Yes, surfing burns a significant amount of calories, anywhere from 300 to 600 calories per hour depending on your size and surfing intensity. This makes it comparable to other vigorous cardiovascular activities like running or swimming laps.

What Muscles Does Surfing Work?

Surfing works your upper body, core, and legs. Paddling strengthens your back, chest, shoulders, and arms while popping up and balancing on the board engages your core and legs.

Is Surfing Good Cardiovascular Exercise?

Absolutely! The paddling required to catch waves provides an excellent cardio workout that gets your heart rate pumping. Surfing works your cardiovascular system similar to interval training.

Can You Lose Weight Just By Surfing?

Many people have lost weight through surfing alone. However, following a healthy diet with nutrient rich foods will optimize fat loss. The exercise from surfing combined with a calorie deficit from your diet is the best approach.

Calories Burned From Surfing

One of the biggest benefits of surfing for weight loss is the amount of calories it burns. Here is a breakdown of the approximate calories burned per hour while surfing based on your weight:

Weight Calories Burned Per Hour
120 lbs 364 calories
150 lbs 455 calories
180 lbs 546 calories
210 lbs 636 calories

As you can see, a 180 pound surfer can burn nearly 550 calories in just one hour of surfing. Those numbers add up fast over multiple surf sessions per week.

The vigorous arm paddling to catch waves accounts for most of the calories burned. Short duration high intensity sprints also boosts your calorie burn when you need to quickly pop up and ride a wave.

This makes surfing an efficient exercise for weight loss compared to more leisurely aquatic activities like floating on a pool raft. The hard work you put in paddling and riding waves leads to greater gains.

Full Body Workout

Another great benefit of surfing for fitness is that it works your entire body. Here is a breakdown of the major muscle groups engaged while surfing:

Upper Body

– Back muscles – Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids
– Chest muscles – Pectoralis major, minor
– Shoulders – Deltoids
– Arms – Biceps, triceps, forearms

Your upper body gets a serious workout from all the paddling required to catch waves. The constant paddling motion strengthens your back, chest, and shoulder muscles as you propel yourself and the surfboard forward through the water.

Proper paddling technique uses your entire upper body and engages all the major muscle groups. Your arms, chest, and back will certainly feel it after a solid surf session.


– Abdominals – Rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis
– Lower back – Erector spinae

A strong and stable core is crucial for balancing on the surfboard as waves push you around. Your core muscles engage when popping up from lying down to standing on the board.

Maintaining balance against the forces of crashing waves requires isometric contractions of your core muscles. This strengthens your midsection and enhances stability.

Paddling also heavily recruits your core muscles to rotate your torso with each stroke. Good paddling technique initiates movement from your core rather than just your arms.


– Quadriceps
– Hamstrings
– Glutes
– Calves

When riding a wave, you are constantly adjusting your body position by flexing your knees and ankles to maintain balance. Loose, wobbly legs will make it difficult to control your surfboard.

Fore and aft adjustments require flexing your quads and hamstrings to shift weight around on the board. Springing up into an explosive pop-up uses power from your glutes and calves.

Your leg muscles get worked throughout the entire session from paddling prone to riding waves standing up. High intensity wave riding is great for building lower body strength.

Full Body Benefits

As you can see, surfing works just about every major muscle from your shoulders to your calves. The combination of endurance paddling and balance challenges leads to:

– Increased muscular strength
– Improved muscular endurance
– Greater core stability

This total body workout provides fitness benefits that target exactly what you need for surfing – upper body paddling power, core stability, and leg balancing strength.

Other exercises and activities may isolate individual muscle groups better. But few activities provide a full body workout quite like surfing.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Catching and riding waves on a surfboard provides excellent cardiovascular exercise. Here’s a look at the cardiorespiratory benefits of surfing:

Increased Aerobic Endurance

All that paddling to catch waves improves your aerobic endurance, especially for your upper body. It elevates your heart rate and sustains it for an extended period of time.

This aerobic demand is similar to interval training with periods of hard paddling followed by rest on the board after catching a wave. Over time this enhances your cardiovascular fitness.

Anaerobic Bursts

Surfing also provides short anaerobic bursts when sprinting for a wave or explosively popping up to your feet. These intense bursts last for several seconds and are fueled by your fast-twitch muscle fibers.

This combination of aerobic paddling with anaerobic wave riding provides metabolic variety. You enhance both your aerobic endurance and anaerobic power.

Increased Lung Capacity

The volume of breathing required during an active surf session expands your lung capacity. Taking deeper breaths while paddling strengthens the intercostal and accessory muscles between your ribs.

This increased capacity improves oxygen delivery during exercise. It also enhances your ability to held buoyancy on the board through proper breathing techniques.

Stronger Cardiovascular System

A stronger heart, expanded lungs, enhanced blood flow – surfing provides a strenuous cardiovascular workout to improve your overall fitness. Consistency is key to experience these benefits.

Surfing just once won’t provide much cardiovascular benefit. But regular surf sessions train a robust cardiovascular system optimized for challenging your limits in the water.

Surfing Technique and Weight Loss

Proper surfing technique enhances the workout benefits for losing weight. Here are some tips for maximizing your calorie burn while surfing:

Paddle Efficiently

Minimize wasted upper body movements by paddling with your torso and core rather than just your arms. Each paddle stroke should engage your latissimus dorsi back muscles along with your pectorals and deltoids. Let your big muscle groups do the work for you.

Paddle Aggressively

Catching as many good waves as possible during a session will keep your heart rate elevated for greater caloric expenditure. Don’t be afraid to sprint and paddle hard when you identify a promising swell.

Pop Up Swiftly

Explode up from lying down to a standing crouch in one quick motion. Don’t slowly push yourself up to your knees before standing. Fast, dynamic motions burn more calories by recruiting your fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Ride Actively

Avoid just cruising down the line passively. Dynamic riding with turns, chops, and maneuvers requires more energy expenditure from your muscles stabilizing your body on the board.

Nutrition for Surfers

Good nutrition provides the necessary fuel for energizing surf sessions and optimizing fat burning. Here are some healthy eating tips for surfers:

Hydrate Properly

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after surfing to stay hydrated. Dehydration saps energy levels and mental focus which can increase injury risk.

Fuel Your Session

Eat a easily digested high carb snack 30-60 minutes pre-surf to provide readily available fuel for your muscles. Try a banana, energy bar, or piece of whole wheat toast.

Replenish Lost Electrolytes

Minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are lost through sweat. Consume an electrolyte mix or coconut water after surfing to aid muscle recovery.

Eat Quality Carbs

Choose smart carbohydrate sources like whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. Avoid processed refined grains which spike blood sugar levels instead of providing sustained energy.

Consume Lean Protein

Protein helps rebuild and repair muscle tissue broken down during exercise. Eat fish, skinless poultry, eggs, protein shakes, Greek yogurt and plant-based proteins like beans, nuts and seeds.

Increase Healthy Fats

Incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Healthy fats enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and fuel your workout.

Eating right gives your body the essential nutrients it needs to perform at its best and drop excess body fat. Nutrition and exercise go hand-in-hand for achieving weight loss goals.

Weight Loss Tips for Surfers

Here are some additional weight loss tips to maximize your fat burning as a surfer:

Surf More Frequently

Aim to get in at least 3 surf sessions per week, but daily sessions provide even greater caloric expenditure for fat loss. More time in the water leads to more calories burned.

Have Longer Sessions

Extend your surf sessions for 45-90 minutes to keep your heart rate elevated and increase calorie burn. This enhances endurance while conditions often improve later in a session.

Consider Surf Camps or Lessons

Joining a surf camp or taking lessons is a great way to motivate yourself to surf more consistently. The structured environment helps establish a healthy exercise routine.

Perform Cross-Training

Complement surfing with full-body strength training, yoga, swimming laps, or sprints. This improves your fitness to help you paddle strong, pop up quickly, and shred better.

Monitor Your Caloric Intake

Be aware of your calorie consumption by tracking your meals. This allows you to ensure you maintain a caloric deficit for weight loss. Apps like MyFitnessPal make tracking easy.

Follow a Nutritious Meal Plan

Have a structured weekly meal plan focusing on lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables to better control your diet. Meal prep can help you execute it consistently.

Making surfing a regular habit combined with proper diet and lifestyle choices will help you shred pounds. Consistency is key to see lasting results on the scale and in the surf.


Surfing is a fun activity with the bonus benefit of also providing an excellent full-body workout. It burns calories, strengthens your cardiovascular system, and engages all your major muscle groups.

Catching waves leads to:

– Burning 300 to 600 calories per hour
– Building upper body, core and lower body strength
– Improving aerobic endurance and anaerobic power
– Expanding lung capacity and cardiovascular function

Proper surfing technique, cross-training, frequent sessions, and dialed in nutrition maximizes these fitness benefits. Surfing is great exercise for losing weight as part of a comprehensive program.

The workout you get from surfing also directly transfers to making you a better surfer. Increased strength, power and endurance leads to more waves caught and ridden.

So grab your board and hit the waves. Your heightened wave riding abilities will be proof of surfing’s effectiveness for getting fit and shedding pounds!

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