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Improve your Pop-Ups!

Improve your Pop-Ups!

Surfing is an incredibly demanding sport and requires you to be physically fit to meet the demands of the ocean.

We met up with local surfer Jessie Tuckman to find out what techniques she uses in the gym to improve her strength in the water for an explosive pop up manoeuvre.

When we pop up on a wave we have to have speed strength and control. It uses almost every muscle in your body to push yourself through and to your feet so here are some exercises that work the muscles you will need for a pop up. Jessie will do these techniques at least three times a week (depending on when the surfs pumping!).

Water-ball Squat Push


The water-ball squat push works many of your muscles in one exercise. If you don’t have a water ball at your gym or at home you can use other objects e.g.. a basketball.

Start off standing, feet shoulder width apart, holding the ball in front of you, squat to the floor, then straighten your legs and push up to full stretch. You can release the ball into the air, on your upward motion, if you feel confident in your strength and catching ability!




We all know how to do burpies (and none of us like them). They are a tough exercise but they are one of the best exercises to work all your muscles and strength which you will need in surfing every time you get in the water.
Start standing, crouch down into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you. Move your legs back into a push up position and drop your chest to the ground. Push back up and return to your feet in the squat position, then jump back to your feet with a little jump as high into the air as you can. Do all of these moves as fast as possible.


Press Ups


Press ups created an emphasis on arm strength to help you paddle into that wave and pop to your feet.

There are a couple of variations depending on your ability. The first is to get into a press up position, widen your hands, drop to the floor and come back up again. Make sure you just hover and don’t touch down on the mat. To put more emphasis on your triceps bring your hands in closer together, shoulder width apart and move your hands backwards so that they are directly in line with your shoulders. This makes the stance replica where your arms are placed on your surfboard and will help you strengthen the muscles for this manoeuvre.


Ball Tuck



This technique will help with balance, strengthen your core and tone the muscles needed to pull your weight up to place your feet underneath you on the board when surfing. If you don’t have these weight balls you can use two basketballs or the equivalent instead.

Get into a press up position but instead of placing your feet on the ground balance each leg on a ball. From here crunch your knees into your chest bringing your feet up beneath you and stretch your legs back out to the original position.

Weighted Abdominal Twist


This exercise will strengthen your back, arms and increase your core stability. This will be useful when popping up and twisting your hips to get your feet in the correct positions.

Position yourself on the floor with your feet on the floor but knees up, back at a 45 degree angle to the floor as shown in the image above. Place your weight in front of you and twist your arms and shoulders to each side of your body.


Weighted Torso Twist


This exercise uses gym equipment but you can also use a power stroke bungee at home with a friend. This exercise will help strengthen your shoulders, arms and back.

Grab the rope with both hands locked. Keep your back straight and pull from a low position out 90 degrees to your side twisting your hips as you go. Then pull tighter and stretch your arms out behind you as shown in the series of images above.


Weighted Downwards Rope


This technique will increase strength in your upper body. It is once again using gym equipment but you can do the same with a power stroke bungee at home.

You are simply pulling the weighted rope from head hight in a straight line downwards until your arms are stretched to full capacity without bending your back or knees. This will help strength you triceps and biceps if you control the accent and decent of the rope.

We hope some of these techniques will be useful to add to your exercise routine. They really help when you get in the water!

With thanks to Jessie Tuckman and Sportshub Treviglas Gym, Newquay. For more information on surf fitness get the Surf Girl Guide to Surf Fitness here

This article has previously appeared on the SurfGirl website.



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