I returned to the Byron shire from my Surfbodysoul New Zealand surf trip to an inundation of fresh east ground swell. Southeast winds ensured the Bay was super fun, and equally population dense. After 2 days of chaotic bliss my good mate Tom, girlfriend Alycia and I decided a short drive south was necessary for crowd escapism. A fickle point delicately positioned between a national park and small coastal dwelling was our surf operation hotspot.
Upon arrival I realized Tom's fin key was inadequate in diameter to fix my futures in place. Both he and Alycia happily disappeared down the trail to the point, relegating me to a desperate treasure hunt for a replacement fin key. Luckily a gristly old seadog came to my rescue and before I knew it I was staring at a mound of whitewater stretching around the remote rocky headland. My first thoughts were 'I hope Tom didn't paddle my girlfriend out into that mess; she's going to drown'. Now for female readers eager to place me next to Tony Abbott as a branded misogynist, Alycia has been sliding for a grand total of 2 years, hence my trepidation with an equation involving her and double overhead waves. Sure enough Tom had indeed placed hedonistic pleasure before the safety of others (as to be fair I would have done) as I noticed two heads bobbing on the bumpy horizon.
The rock access jump conjured up memories of surfing Moroccan reef slabs, where one poor judgement call renders you victim too an oceanic blender with potentially dire consequences. Anyway to cut a long story short we all enjoyed double overhead waves to ourselves, amidst a ruggedly beautiful coastal heath and sandstone backdrop. Surfing larger waves brings us to today's topic: Practical Surfbodysoul training methods to tackle the oceans fury. With average swells and northerly winds summer is the perfect time to build your strength endurance, lung capacity, and flexibility to tackle big waves. Below I have outlined three techniques to help you achieve just this.
Technique 1: Diaphragmatic Breathing
This is a Yoga breathing technique or 'Pranayama'. This technique increases the elasticity and strength of the diaphragm, our major involuntary breathing muscle. Take a look at the Diaphragmatic Breathing in detail.
Start small and gradually build your tolerance.
Technique 2: Specific Paddle & Breath Hold Training
Specificity is everything: The cornerstone of modern sports science is to recreate the exact motor pattern you are trying to improve and find a way to overload it, often referred to as sports specific training. Lets examine how to apply this principle too big wave surfing training:
Start at one end of your local beach. Complete a Surfbodysoul warm up sequence, then paddle beyond the breaking zone. To warm up further spend 5 minutes gradually paddling parallel to the beach (along it).
Now paddle at 75-100% intensity for 2 minutes, slide of your board with leg rope attached and swim underwater for as long as you can. Jump on your board and repeat without rest 5 times. Rest for 2 minutes and repeat this cycle 3 times.
Now paddle to the beach, jog back to your starting point and complete some gentle cool down stretches.
Technique 3: Prone Hold Leg Lift
This is a core strength exercise included in my Surfbodysoul client Anthony Walsh, Fergal Smith's and Paul Morgan's programs. It is great to strengthen the deep abdominal and spinal muscles simultaneously, providing support for your lower back in bigger surf, and increasing power for your surfing:
Start in a 4-point kneeling position (on your hand and knees). Engage your abdominals by tucking your belly button in towards your spine.
Place your elbows directly below your shoulders, tuck your toes under and raise the knees off the floor into a prone hold position. Tuck your chin in, draw the shoulders away from the ears, and keep your abdominals activated at 100%. Your back should be flat, avoid arching the lower back.
Exhale to activate your right buttock cheek and raise your straight right leg off the floor too hip height. It is essential that the hips are square and the lower back remains strong and flat, not arching. Keep your belly button tucking in towards the spine at 100%.
Inhale return the right leg to the floor, exhale repeat on your left leg.
Repeat 5-10 times on each leg depending on your level of strength.
NOTE: If you feel any lower back pain during the completion of this exercise stop immediately.
Add these three training techniques to your regular summer program and surf big on the next sizeable bump on the horizon. I look forward to seeing you on the mat, or in the water!
Ryan Huxley is the co-founder and program creator at www.surfbodysoul.com, a website that provides safe, effective, holistic, scientific e-book exercise programs catering for surfers of all age, level and experience. Ryan is a qualified Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist, Advanced Yoga and Pilates instructor. His list of pro surfing clients includes Fergal Smith, Chippa Wilson, Anthony Walsh, Liz Clark, Paige Hareb, Paul Morgan & Rusty Miller.