our top picks
The Best Core Exercises to Supercharge Your Surfing
The first day of surfing can leave even the most physically fit of novice wave-riders exhausted. The continued paddling, repeated “pop-ups,” and holding posture while riding waves to shore can take a lot out of a person. But the muscles that are most often pushed to their limit? The core muscles. This multi-muscle network is responsible not just for simplifying your push to your feet, but keeping you balanced as you await the perfect wave, as well as keeping you upright once you pop to your feet. Contrary to popular belief, core strength means more than having defined abdominal muscles. There is actually an inner core―composed of the diaphragm, multifidus, pelvic floor, and transversus abdominis. The outer core, surrounding these elements, is comprised of the abdominal muscles, the obliques, and the muscles running up the spine. Both elements of the core must be strong, flexible, and engaged for good surfing to take place. Why the Core Is Central to Good Surfing A strong core is about more than just looking good in the bathing suit you’ll surf in. An engaged core will keep you upright while out on the water; without attention to these key muscles, your performance atop your board will suffer, or perhaps even cause injury. In addition to strength, however, any workouts you do to strengthen this area must also encourage its flexibility. Cris Mills elaborates: Do you have the required flexibility to rotate the lower body away from the upper body? If not, and you go into high speed core training or whippy snaps, you’ll really end up hurting something. To ensure that you’re building a core that can serve you well out on the water, Mills encourages you to focus on “spinal stability and pelvic control, and then progress into high speed rotational work, which is much more functional.” You’ll appreciate taking the time to develop these muscles once you’re shredding waves, pivoting expertly without pain, discomfort, or risk of injury. Isolated exercises, such as crunches, are minimally effective when building up the sort of strength that aids surfing. Instead, seek to focus on abdominal exercises that mimic some of the motions you’ll utilize out on the water. This will commit these motions to muscle memory, making them easier to do when called upon in the moment. Planks Planks are a comprehensive exercise; they engage not just the abdominals and back muscles, but also the shoulders and arms. Further, you’ll pass through the plank position in your “pop-up” to your feet, and so this is a good position to get used to. To plank, get into the “top” position of a push-up, with a straight back and straight arms. Feet should be flexed, with the toes holding up the body. Start by seeking to hold the plank position for 20 seconds, and gradually add time as workouts get more complex. Prone Swimmer Another exercise that engages the back muscles, a portion of the core that is often neglected, the prone swimmer also can provide relief for tight abdominal muscles. Lie face down on the ground, then arch the back, and lift the arms and legs off the ground. Then pull your arms back, as though you were doing the breaststroke on dry land. This added arm movement will give you practice in warming up the shoulder muscles, another set of muscles that must be strong for success in surfing. Jackknifes Also sometimes called V-sits, jackknifes start from a full lying position on the back. At once, lift your extended arms and legs up in the air, aiming for them to touch with the body folded while balancing on the butt. Once the arms and legs touch (or come as close as possible), return to the extended lying position in a controlled release. Aim for twenty reps of this exercise to start, increasing this number as your strength improves. Ab muscles and back muscles are engaged here, while also helping you adjust to bringing the arms and legs together quickly as you do in the pop-up. Walking Lunges While holding the upper body straight up and down (clench the abdominal muscles to make sure of this), lunge forward with one leg, bending the knee at ninety degrees. Push off that leading leg to return to the neutral position. Then, repeat the motion with the other leg. This motion should be repeated twenty times ―ten on each leg―with reps increasing as you get stronger. In addition to engaging the core, the lunge helps to engage and move the hip flexors, another key part of rotating the lower body away from the upper body. One final note: as you work to build strength, make sure that it’s not at the expense of also developing flexibility. These two abilities work in concert to prevent fatigue and injury, but overdevelopment of muscles can prevent flexibility when it’s needed―such as during and after a fall from your board. Supplement exercises like the ones above with copious stretching before and after you hit the waves, and yoga workouts as cross-training. Attention to the strength needed to surf well will keep you safe, energetic, and strong as you ride the waves in to shore.
Surfing Songs: The Best Surfing Inspired Music
Out on the water, the only soundtrack you have is the ebb and flow of the waves pulsing through your ears. On land, however, you have a little more control over the music that inspires and fuels your surfing. If you’re searching for a bit of inspiration, whether your time is spent dreaming of surfing or just relaxing on the beach, we’ve got a number of suggestions for you! Dick Dale, “Miserlou” You likely recognize this tune from its role in 1994’s Pulp Fiction, or its use as a sample in The Black Eyed Peas’ “Pump It.” But Dale’s song, and indeed his whole repertoire, has been iconic enough to earn him the title “King of Surf Rock.” Dale and his Del-Tones formed in the early 1950s and played the lion’s share of the songs that formed the genre during that time. Though their style evolved to focus more on cars than surfing in the sixties and seventies, Dale returned to it in a solo career later on. Despite advanced age (at the time of publication, Dale was nearly eighty) and a host of medical issues, he continues to tour and delight audiences with distinct guitar licks and liberal use of a whammy bar. The Ventures, “Hawaii Five-O” In addition to giving us one of the most iconic TV theme songs, The Ventures are one of the most popular instrumental rock groups of all time. The song charted in the top five in 1969, although this was far from their only chart success. In fact, they had 37 albums hit the charts between 1960 and 1972―a staggering total even today. Their name was a verbal representation of the genre-hopping they were willing to do to stay inspired, and they proved highly prolific as a result. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, and occasionally still tour with a modified lineup. The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds It may not have the immediate surf appeal of “Surfin’ USA” or “Surfin Safari,” but Pet Sounds solidifies the exceptional nature of The Beach Boys as a band. The groundbreaking album from the Beach Boys celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2016, and continues to have an impact on longtime fans and newer listeners alike. The band’s eleventh studio release, it features some of their most popular songs, including “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Sloop John B,” and “God Only Knows,” a song Paul McCartney once deemed the best song ever written. Their breezy, beach-inspired sound captures the energy of the best beach days, and gives you hope for channeling their genius into your time on the water. Weezer, Blue Album What The Beach Boys did for surf-inspired music in the sixties, Weezer may have done for the nineties. Their Blue Album hit upon surfing themes directly with songs like “Surf Wax America,” and even recreated the sock-hop craze that shared a time period with surf films in their video for “Buddy Holly.” The gentle but intricate lead guitar work that you hear through the music of the prior artists shows up, courtesy of frontman Rivers Cuomo. Give this album a listen while en route to the beach, or even while cleaning your board after a long day of surfing. Jack’s Mannequin, “Holiday from Real” The opening strains of Everything in Transit evokes memories of the beach, with the blowing wind and gentle squawk of seagulls. From there, lead singer and pianist Andrew McMahon launches into this song about spending time with friends near the beach, living a life that feels like a getaway. Those of us who use surfing as a getaway from a hectic or less peaceful life undoubtedly identify with this message. The rest of the album takes an emotional and less escapist trajectory, but its opening song was just made for a carefree trip to the beach. Jack Johnson, “Upside Down” Especially when shredding in the barrel of a roaring wave, the world can feel like it’s upside down when we’re out on the water. Jack Johnson’s quiet twangy “Upside Down” captures that with a combined bounciness and stillness that feels like the right song to play in your head as you catch a wave and prepare to ride it to shore. Especially when you make it to your feet, and the rush of euphoria washes over you, it’s easy to think what Jack repeats toward the end of the song: “I don’t want this feeling to go away.” This is far from a comprehensive list, but we hope it’ll get you started in building your playlist. Have suggestions on what to add? Let us know in the comments!
Surfing on Screen: TV and Movie Surfing Favorites
Our first priority is generally to be at the beach. The sunshine, the waves, the feel of the sand―it all just feels right. But, sometimes, that’s not always in the cards. Whether we’re landlocked, nursing an injury, or weather has gotten in the way of our perfect beach day, sometimes we have to stay inside. However, those days can still include surfing through movie (and TV!) magic. We’re sharing a few of our favorites to add to your queue or search for online. The Endless Summer (1966) The seminal documentary on surfing by filmmaker Bruce Brown, The Endless Summer follows surfers around the world in search of the perfect wave; its title refers to the extensive travel required to surf year-round. Beautifully photographed and intimate in its feel, you’ll love the spirit of this film, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. Riding Giants (2004) Three years after his heartfelt and energetic documentary on skateboarding, Dogtown and Z-Boys, director Stacy Peralta turned his eye and camera toward a different board sport: surfing. Riding Giants shares current testimony on the sport, with footage and interviews about its history. Peralta is a painstaking filmmaker, and you will learn a staggering amount about the sport as a result. This one will have you itching to catch waves once it’s done. Gidget (1959) Admittedly, this 50s-era Sandra Dee vehicle (which later inspired a Sally Field-starring TV show) has a different tone from the films already listed. However, it can be fun to look at the image surfing had in earlier days―one of rebellion and slight danger―and what effects that image had on naive young teenagers. This pick is definitely a sillier one, but still worth a watch at least once. Point Break (1991) In the early nineties, it would appear that surfing still had a reputation for rebellion. Point Break capitalized on that assumption with its story about an undercover FBI agent who works his way into a surfer gang, hoping to connect them to a string of bank robberies. Among the best of Patrick Swayze’s movies, it also stars Keanu Reeves, Gary Busey, and Lori Petty. A remake was released in 2015 ... but you can go ahead and skip that one. Blue Crush (2002) Although Gidget does surf in her movies, relatively few movies focus on female surfers. In 2002, Blue Crush provided a change to the formula. Starring Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, and Matthew Davis, it tells the story of a talented surfer preparing for the Pipe Masters competition with a distraction on her mind―quarterback Matt Tollman. Although the film has its stereotypical teen film moments, it also features skilled action sequences of surfers, and is worth watching for those moments, too. Surf’s Up (2007) The surfers in Surf’s Up are also preparing for a major competition―the Penguin World Surfing competition. Released during the height of a “penguin craze” in the U.S., this animated “mockumentary” features the voice talents of Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, and real-life human surfers Kelly Slater and Rob Machado. This is another silly way to spend a rainy afternoon, and may be particularly entertaining for younger kids still building enthusiasm to take on the waves for themselves. BONUS: Drunk History, “Hawaii” (2014) If you’re looking for a short story about the history of surfing ... told by someone who vaguely knows what they’re saying, check out Comedy Central’s Drunk History. A season 2 episode focusing on stories in Hawaii details the brief feud that took place between surfers in Hawaii and ones from Australia. Surfer Eddie Aikau is shown brokering a “peace treaty” of sorts between the two factions over a mutual respect for the sport. There’s some explicit language on this one, so we don’t recommend watching it with kids or at work. We’re always wishing for the next beach day, and for conditions that favor time among the waves. In the meantime, we hope these picks will keep you entertained and inspired until the next surf outing arrives.