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Fitness Testing for Surfing

Despite being a recreational sport for many people, at the elite level surfing is a very physically demanding and requires a professional approach to fitness. In preparation for competition, it is important to get the body in peak condition. Part of that preparation is regular fitness testing to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the surfer, and to monitor the changes in fitness level with training.

There are many components of fitness that are important for success in surfing. Balance and coordination would be one of the most important fitness components, with muscular endurance, strength, power, flexibility all playing an important part too. See our discussion about the Fitness Components for Surfing.

A Fitness Testing Battery for Surfers

Here is an example of fitness tests that would be appropriate for surfers.

Body Fat

Excess body fat can affect the surfer's ability to keep balanced and move freely, as well as the extra weight to be carried causing fatigue. Body fat can be measured using the skinfold method. If this is not available, monitoring body weight changes would give an indication of body fat changes, assuming no change in muscle mass.


A good range of motion for a large range of joints is important for surfers. The sit and reach test can be done for lower back and hamstring flexibility. It is also important to test quadriceps and shoulder extension flexibility. See all flexibility tests.

two surfers battling

Core Strength

Core strength is a very important factor in keeping balanced on the surfboard. The 7-stage Abdominal Strength test and 1 minute sit up tests would be appropriate.

Leg Strength and Power

Strength and power is important for explosive movements while surfing. The vertical jump test or the standing long jump test can be performed to measure leg power.

Upper Body Strength

Upper body strength is important for paddling and for pushing up to the standing position. Upper body strength and endurance can be measured using a maximum pushup test (cadence test).

Aerobic Fitness

Aerobic fitness is also an important component of fitness for surfing. The shuttle run (beep) test would be an appropriate test for testing a surfer. You can find information on many other aerobic tests here.

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