Does Surfing Make You Fit? (Lose Weight, Gain Muscle & More)

Surfing is an intensive sport that demands a lot from the body. This can also be seen in the well-trained bodies of many surfers. So, does surfing make you fit?

Surfing trains the whole body and makes you fit. Through the pop up, and paddling, both the entire upper body and the core are trained. The leg and glute muscles are also trained by the constant balancing on the surfboard. Because surfing is a full-body workout, you also build heart strength.

As you’ve read, surfing is incredibly good for your body. But besides that, does it have any other benefits for the body? Does surfing make you lose weight, or does it make you ripped? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this article!

Can You Get Fit From Surfing?

A question often asked when speaking about surfing has to do with the physical exercise involved in the sport. Professional surfers make it look so effortless that it is easy to be misled into believing that surfing is not a physical sport.

However, everyone who has tried to surf at least once in their lifetime will know that it is one of the most physically intense sports. But why is that?

Let’s take a closer look at how surfing makes you fitter.

We will start by looking at the obvious energy drainer in surfing, the paddle out.

We often skip straight to the good parts when watching surfing videos on the internet, with incredible barrels and impressive turns.

However, before a surfer even catches the first wave, they have already performed a tremendous physical task to even get out to the lineup in the first place.

Constantly paddling, and battling the current, while diving under massive waves crashing on your head takes quite some muscle strength and stamina to achieve!

This is the primary reason why surfers on the beach often look muscular and fit.

Apart from the paddle out, surfing and riding the wave itself also takes more strength than you might think.

Surfing truly is a full-body workout, and while your arms do the work during the paddle out, it is up to your legs to perform while up and riding.

Changing direction on a wave requires full motion throughout the body.

While it may not take as much raw strength as paddling, it is a great way to improve your balance and agility, which are all part of your overall fitness level.

Another intense part of surfing is the pop up, where you go from lying flat on your board to standing tall and upright on the waves.

Group of boys surfing

This is where the previously mentioned strength and agility come together to form one intense burst of energy to swing your legs onto your board.

The pop up takes true skill and practice to master, but you’ll be fitter than ever once you have it down. 

Besides all the above-mentioned muscular efforts, the ocean’s environment also makes surfing incredibly draining.

You are constantly battling the elements like winds, currents, waves, and water temperature.

After a while, this combination of sounds and feelings will take its toll on you, which then causes your fitness levels to increase rapidly.

Contrary to what many people think, surfing does not only require physical fitness; mental strength is involved just as much.

Reading the waves, finding the right one, and looking for good sections to make a turn on are all parts of surfing that have to be done in mind, often in a matter of seconds.

So while surfing, you train your mental fitness and physical strength.

All of this has made surfing look like a grueling workout, but do not worry!

While surfing is great for your fitness and strength, the fact that you are full of adrenaline and out in the ocean masks the fact that you are exhausted.

This is why surfing is so great for your fitness, as you push yourself beyond your normal boundaries.

And of course, for the lazy surfers out there, small waves and friendly conditions can also make surfing one of the most relaxing sports in the world!

So, does surfing make you fit?

Surfing is a very intensive sport. This makes it great for both your fitness and your muscle build. Due to the constant effort involved in paddling and riding waves, surfing is a great cardio exercise and a tremendous muscle-building sport.

Does Surfing Make You Lose Weight?

Surfing is a great way to burn a lot of fat and calories in a fun way.

The average surfer burns around 400 calories an hour, making surfing a decent sport to practice if you want to burn fat and lose weight.

Because surfing is so fun and addictive, you will likely be more motivated to continue than other exercise forms.

People practice sports for various reasons; some do it for fun, some for the results, and others do it to lose weight.

It is important to choose the right sport when it comes to that last category, as you want to burn as many calories as possible.

By losing weight, many people actually mean losing fat; for that, calorie burning is the way to go.

The human body stores excess calories in the form of fat, and the only way to get rid of them is to burn those excess calories again.

But is surfing the right way to do this?

Does surfing burn calories?

Each surf session is an intense physical exercise, and therefore you burn a lot of calories when surfing. The average surfer burns around 400 calories per hour while surfing. Depending on the conditions, this may be more or less.

As mentioned before, the average surfer burns around 400 calories per hour of surfing.

This number, of course, depends on the conditions, so let’s say it varies between 200 and 600 calories depending on the surfer and the conditions.

This may not seem like much when you compare it to something like the gym, but the power of surfing is in the fun.

Since surfing is fun and addictive, you are much more likely to spend a lot of time in the water than you are to spend that same time in the gym somewhere.

This makes surfing such a great calorie burner.

While surfing burns many calories, it’s important to note that you also gain muscle mass. Since muscles are generally heavier than fat, losing weight might not always be the right term to use.

However, surfing is guaranteed to help tighten your body and muscles to get that optimal summer body, which is why most people lose weight anyway. 

Tracking the progress of weight loss and calories burned in an unpredictable sport like surfing is a little more complicated than in a place like a gym.

Because so much depends on the changeable waves and conditions, it is hard to put an exact number on each surf session.

In a place like a gym, you can do this because your exercises are constantly the same.

To still track your progress, you can buy an exercise watch to track your exact amount of calories burned. Alternatively, you can use the table below to estimate your burned calories on a given day of surfing!

Surfing conditions:Calories burned (per hour):
Easy conditions (waves under 4.9 ft)250
Perfect conditions (4.9 ft to 9.8 ft waves)400
Tough conditions (9.8 ft+ waves, strong currents, etc.)700

Does Surfing Make You Ripped?

Two surfers looking at the ocean

Surfing is the perfect sport for those who want to tone their muscles and develop that optimal summer body.

Due to the intense physical exercise and the sun exposure, surfing is a great way to get ripped, all while having fun out in the water!

As I have mentioned before, people practice sports for different reasons. An obvious reason is to get ripped quickly. Summer is coming again, which means it is time to train our summer bodies.

Of course, you can do this the boring way in the gym, but wouldn’t it be great if getting ripped were to be easier and more fun?

Luckily, there is the incredible sport of surfing coming to the rescue.

Surfing is essentially a full-body workout. You use all the muscles in your body in an intense and demanding way.

  1. Your upper body is heavily trained when paddling out into the line up.
  2. Your legs are trained when you’re up and riding.
  3. Finally, the pop up combines the best of both worlds into one massive burst of energy coming from your entire body!

This is why surfing is an amazing sport to get ripped quickly.

Another factor in surfing is the elements, which will help you get ripped in numerous ways.

First, you are more likely to push your limits when you are in the wilds of the ocean than when you are in the comfort of the gym.

This is due to the adrenaline released in your body when surfing. Your body essentially enters its ‘fight or flight mechanism,’ causing you to push your body to lengths you normally never could.

As anyone will tell you, pushing yourself is a vital key to getting ripped, and a sport like surfing will be just what you need to push you over that edge.

Besides the forced motivation, the elements will, of course, never be the same, forcing you to use all muscles in your body.

When working out in the gym, you only target a very specific set of muscles during every exercise.

Surfing, on the other hand, forces you to use all muscles to act according to the situation, leading to impressive gains in a short period of time.

Something that is often overlooked when trying to get ripped is your skin tone. A little bit of tan can make you appear more muscular than you actually are.

Luckily for us surfers, the tanning and training process can be combined!

Surfing will quickly make you tanned as you are exposed to the sun reflecting off the water for long periods of time.

So, why are surfers ripped?

Surfers are ripped because they spend a lot of time doing what they love out in the water. This gives them regular exercise from surfing and lots of sun exposure. This tones their muscles perfectly, which is why most surfers are ripped.

This combination of factors like the intense muscle exercises and the harsh elements make surfers ripped.

Look around at the beach the next time you’re there, and you’re almost guaranteed to see some ripped surfers, no matter where you live in the world!

Does Surfing Build Muscle?

Three surfers sitting on a fence

Many people like to build muscle, either to look better or to simply get stronger. Whatever your reason is, surfing is a great and fun way to quickly build muscle.

This intense sport is not only fun and addicting; you will feel yourself get stronger and see muscle build in no time!

Surfing is a sport that truly reaches most muscle groups of your body. This is, of course, great if you’re looking to build muscle quickly.

What muscles are used when surfing?

Pretty much all muscles in your body are used when surfing. In your upper body, you use your triceps and biceps, your shoulders in the form of deltoids, and your core in the form of your abs. In your legs, you work both your glutes and quadriceps when surfing.

Let’s start by looking at the upper body.

Surfing is a great sport to build muscle in your upper body, as the constant paddling is all done by upper body muscles. Your shoulders, back, and arms are all targeted in a regular surfing session.

More specifically, the biceps and triceps in your arms are worked, and the deltoids in your upper back and shoulders.

Training these muscles will give you that classic wide-shouldered summer body look!

Another important part of your upper body is your core, and surfing has also got you covered in this department!

Surfing is the perfect way to develop a six-pack for the summer.

All your core muscles, such as the trapezius, rectus abdominis, latissimus dorsi, and the obliques, are worked when paddling out in the line up.

Now that we have covered the muscles used in the paddle out, we will continue by looking at the pop up.

The pectoralis major in your chest is the primary targeted muscle when popping up. This muscle provides a tremendous amount of energy to allow the pop up.

Surfing is not only great for upper body strength, but it also does wonders for your legs and gluteal muscles.

This is due to the balancing done while up and riding on the waves. This targets your glutes, quadriceps, and gastrocnemius muscles. 

So, does surfing make you bigger?

Yes, surfing makes you bigger. When surfing, you train many muscle groups, and in the right conditions, you push them to the absolute limit. This will lead to muscle growth, all while doing something enjoyable!

All these muscle groups combined will give you that characteristic and desirable strong surfer look you see at the beach!


Overall, surfing is a great sport to build muscle and get fit quickly.

Every surf session you do is like a full-body workout targeting all primary muscle groups in your body.

Surfing is a fun way to get fit, and due to the adrenaline and the fun, you are much more likely to push yourself and get fit and ripped faster and with more fun than in something like the gym!

If you want a sport to get fit, ripped, or simply to have incredible fun, surfing has got you covered!

Marcus Campbell

Surfing is the biggest passion in my life. Transferring my knowledge about surfing to others is what I love doing most! I do this through my own surf school and through my articles on this website. This is how I hope to get everyone excited about this amazing sport!
May 23, 2022
Published: May 23, 2022