Beginner Tips

Surf-Fitness Pop-up Training Surfers Perfect Pushup

Surf-Fitness is all about building a stronger body so you can do what makes you happy in life, and do it better... surfing.

There are a few critical movements for surfers to master when building strength and core control. One of those moves that every single surfer, no matter their age or skill will benefit from is the pushup. But we're not talking about lazy, non-coordinated pushups, we're talking about developing the perfect pushup. With developing the strength and muscle coordination to perform a perfect pushup, you'll not only be exceptionally stronger and faster with your pop-ups, you'll develop a stronger core and a more stable upper body which is essential for deeper duck dives and long-term shoulder health.


Why Should You Master The Perfect Pushup?

If you're weak in your upper body pushing movements, then your surfing is immediately going to suffer. Your pop-ups will be slower and less coordinated, and your duck dives won't be strong enough to actually get yourself under the breaking wave. A weak pop- up results in a far slower motion of getting to your feet, and prevents you from getting onto that clean wave face. If you have a weak core that can't efficiently stabilize your spine during the pop-up movement, it puts you at a big risk for a back injury, which as definitely no good. With your duck-dives, if you're lacking upper body strength, then you'll have a hard time pressing that board underneath that oncoming wave, which results in some really frustrating paddle-outs. With all that being said, you should work on a perfect pushup to progress your pop-up strength and improve your surfing fitness.

Why the Pushup?

As discussed, the pushup carries over to several key movements needed for good surfing, but a pushup when performed correctly, is a great for full body strength development. It coordinates the pushing muscles (chest and shoulder) with the core muscles, and the pelvis and hip muscles. Good surfers have strong bodies that move efficiently and with coordination, and a pushup will help you train those characteristics.

How To Perform The Perfect Pushup

Don't drop your head 
Don't sag your core or torso 
Control the movement through the lowering and pushing phase 
Keep proper body alignment 
Don't regress to your knees. Instead, place your hands on a higher surface. 
Don't Drop Your Head- this is a big fail that a large portion of people do. Like previously mentioned, the pushup helps to train full body development and coordination. If every time you perform a pushup you also drop your head, you're teaching your body a faulty movement, and further weakening important neck muscles. Keep your head in line with your body.
Don't sag your core or torso: This is another big fail that people unfortunately do all the time, and it can cause some serious back injuries. The pushup not only strengthens the upper body when properly executed, it coordinates that strength with the core. That core integration is critical for strong explosive pop-ups. If you “sag” your core when performing a pushup, you're not activating your core muscles properly, and placing compressive forces through your lower back. Performing a Perfect Surfers Pushup with core activation helps to train full body strength with a strong core.
Control The Movement- too many people get sloppy with their pushups, and focus on “how many” rather than “quality”. Control the movement in both the lowering portion, and the pushing portion. This controlled movement helps to develop strength, and stability, and teaches your body how to move efficiently. Poor quality pushups with fast drops and sketchy pushes do not teach your body how to move efficiently, which is what you want to remain injury free.

Keep Proper Body Alignment- This falls in line with “don't drop your head” and “don't sag your core” . If you're not keeping your body in good postural alignment, your not correctly using your muscles, and creating imbalances in your body. Muscle imbalances will pull joints out of proper alignment, which affects your flexibility and promotes injury. Keep your body in perfect alignment to get the most out of your Perfect Surfer Pushups.
Don't Regress To Your Knees- Women are often told to drop to their knees if they cannot perform a full pushup. This extends to men as well that are lacking upper body strength. Instead, place your hands on a higher surface, perhaps a bench. Elevating your upper body lessens the force of gravity, making the pushup easier. When dropping to your knees it changes the manner in which certain muscles on the front of your body activate and integrate. As stated prior, we're surfers and we need to be able to move efficiently, with integrated muscle action, so we need to train for muscle integration. It's far more efficient to regress the pushup by elevating your hands. As strength levels improve, you can lower the elevated surface, until you're performing pushups from the ground.

Pushup Progression

Once you nail down the standard perfect pushup, it's time to progress the pushup. The advanced movement options are endless, and have some really beneficial carryover to surfing and remaining injury free. It also adds some excitement and variability to your workouts.

T-Rotation Pushups                                            


Yoga Pushups

 Weighted Pushups


Explosive Pop-up Pushups

Get strong with your perfect pushups, then being your power pop-up training with explosive pushups, and pop-up pushups. Becoming strong and stable with integrative bodily strength first, and then progressing to explosive pushup training is the key to remaining injury free and developing an upper body that can really perform in the water. This style of pushup is sport specific training for your pop-ups and will dramatically improve your strength, speed, and endurance for duck-dives and pop-ups in the surf.

The Surfers Perfect Pushup

So there you go, the Perfect Pushup. Train your body efficiently so you can surf! The pushup, when performed properly has loads of benefit for surfers, and specific benefit for your pop-ups and duck-dives. It's a critical movement to surf well and have a blast in the water, so spend some time working on your surf fitness, and work on the Surfers Perfect Pushup.
-Cris Mills
About the Author:
Cris Mills is a Surf Specific Exercise, Rehab Specialist, and CHEK Practitioner based in Sydney Australia.  Through corrective exercise, performance training, neuromuscular therapy, massage, and nutritional coaching, he helps surfers stay in the water, keep their bodies in top shape, and help them to continue surfing.  You can find out more about him through his website 

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