Swim Workouts for Stamina and Surfing

Swim Workouts for Stamina and Surfing
Swim Workouts for Stamina and Surfing

Muscle Group:



At the end of the day, there is no replacement for actual time spent in the water. So, if you do have access to any kind of regulation size pool, that should be your primary home for training. Make no mistake, having a good level muscular strength is key to successful surfing, but water sports call for streamline, water-ready muscles and lungs. Best achieved in the water.

***Disclaimer: This is not an original Jungle Strength workout, and I hold no patents or trademarks over this workout, developed by the extraordinarily talented Nick Carroll… But that doesn’t mean we can’t use it to get ahead!!!

Nick Carroll, a paddleboarder, surfer and oftime magazine editor has some theories that work well for anyone with access to a pool. And let me add my name to the many to confirm what he says himself for surfline.com, “this could be worth printing out and tacking to your wall”

“First things first: Pool, pool, pool. Your element is water, and the priority through this long long winter is to stay in contact with it. So let's start there. If you're

Next priority is to maintain your paddling fitness. Given the presence of a pool, and a good approach to swim training (ie. actually DOING it, as opposed to avoiding it!), you can actually hit the water next spring in better shape than when you left it.

Get a good pair of swim goggles, a pair of swim trunks, and you're ready to go. Check out the very simple swim workout below:

​(The Beginner versions of each component of these workouts is the second number/interval in bold for all sections.)


(4 - 5 times a week, all done freestyle, except where indicated)

1. Jump in and swim 400 (200) meters, nice and smoothly, not too quick, not too slow. This is to warm up and loosen your whole body.

2. Take a short rest, just a couple minutes. Let the heart rate return to somewhere near normal.

3. Do a set of short quick sprints. You're probably swimming in a 25-meter pool, so do this:

8 x 25m/ one length (4x25), each one pretty much as quick as you can, with a 20 second break between each 25m. (Or start each 25m exactly 40 seconds after you started the last one - a 40-second "interval". Intervals keep you honest.)

4. Take another rest. That little sprint set should've limbered you up and got some heat running through your brain and body.

5. Now a set of sturdy strengtheners.

5 x 100m (3 x 100m), smooth and strong, with a 30 second gap between each 100m. (Or on a 2-minute interval.)

6. Take another rest. That should've opened your lungs right up and got some endorphins moving. Healthy tingling through body, etc.

7. Now a finish-off power set.

6 x 50m (3 x 50m), with a 20 second break between each. (Or a 50-second interval.)

8. Roll right into a slow "warmdown" 100m, swim very gently, 25m free, 25m backstroke, 25m breaststroke, 25m free to finish.

9. Drink a couple pints of water.

Most surfers/ athletes will feel some odd muscles twitching after a couple of these session, but it won't be too bad - not as bad as if you hadn't done any kind of upper body work.

After four or five weeks at this pace, you'll be ready to tune it up a bit. Try this one out every second session:


1. Jump in for the 400-meter (250)-meter warmup gig.

2. Rest for a minute or so, then straight into this:

3. Serious strengtheners:

10 x 50m (5x 50m), first five on a 2 minute interval, second five on a 1min-50sec interval. (Don't give up on number eight/three, either!)

4. Rest for a couple minutes, then:

10 x 50m (same as above), first five on 1 minute, second five on 45 seconds.

5. Rest for a minute or so:

8 x 25m (3-4 x 25m) UNDERWATER, each on 1 minute. (You can use a set of swim fins on this one -- not a bad investment.)

6. 6x50m (3 x 50m), swimming 25 free, 25 other stroke - backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly. Your choice of the other stroke. (If you can mmanage it, try to revolve twice through the three - I know butterfly is a real trick.) Each 50 on 1m15s.

6. Rest for a couple of minutes, then swim right through the remaining 600m (300m) without stopping, but doing 25m backstroke for every 75m freestyle. Slow yourself down through the last 100, down to warmdown pace.

Keep drinking nice clean fresh water a LOT during the days before and after your sessions, it'll flush out a lot of exercise byproducts and keep your muscles loose and soft. If you don't do this, you'll hurt your kidneys and liver and your recoveries will be slower.

Spend the bucks you've saved not joining a gym on a good massage from time to time --or just save for a couple new boards.

Any good pool center will have some sort of swim group or program where you can hook up with other people and maybe train with 'em a bit, swim training is way easier with a couple buddies.

Get grinding!

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