The men and women you see surfing on TV make the sport look easy, but in reality it is one of the most physically demanding sports out there. Whether it’s paddling, popping up, or riding the wave, an unbelievable amount of strength and endurance is required. Surfing-specific workouts are becoming more and more popular for recreational and competitive surfers (as they should be), but what it often overlooked is how participation in other sports can also improve your skill on the water. Personally, as a recreational athlete I prefer experiencing multiple sports, and in this article we look at the cross-training benefits between boxing and surfing, a combination I immediately fell in love with.
Shoulder Strength and Endurance
If you’ve paddled on a board before, you know how beneficial shoulder strength and endurance can be. Boxing is easily the best shoulder workout I have ever participated in, and it doesn’t involve any weights. The main reason for this is because most exercises in a typical boxing workout require you to keep your hands up. Generally speaking, a typical boxing workout consists of rounds (instead of “sets”), which are 3 minutes long and have 30-60 seconds rest in between rounds. This is designed to mimic the structure of a boxing match, but actually works out well for getting a killer workout too. Most exercise involve the upper body quite heavily (e.g. heavy bag, speed bag, reflex bag, shadow boxing, sparring, etc), even the warm-up, which often times is a workout on it’s own!
Lower Body Strength and Endurance
One of the underrated aspects of boxing fitness is the benefits to lower body strength and endurance. Every boxing-specific exercise requires you to be in an athletic position with knees bent. Furthermore, you must maintain the alignment of your body so that it’s on an angle (i.e. not squared-up), and keeping all this in mind throughout the workout can be quite taxing. It’s not just the positioning either. Much of your punching power is generated from the lower body, so there is explosive muscle work involved as well. I personally feel it the most in my calves, but overall it’s a great leg workout.
Perhaps the most applicable when it comes to surfing, boxing can really improve your core strength and stability. As much of the power is generated from your lower body, you also have to transfer it through your core. Also, it is always encouraged to focus on core exercises in order to toughen up your mid section, should you ever decide to spar and want to avoid being winded too many times.
As mentioned previously, boxing typically doesn’t use a ton of weights, so often times exercises simply use your own body weight and require a lot of core stability. This is something you will notice quickly. Even though you don’t feel the burn right away, it’s difficult to maintain proper form and posture throughout the workout, and you’ll buildup that strength and endurance before you know it.
Affordability and Accessibility
Most sports can be difficult to get into because they cost a lot of money at first. Boxing is an exception though. You can find at least one boxing gym in most cities and the equipment and memberships can be very cheap. If going to a facility to do your workouts is something that you hate the thought of, purchasing a couple pieces of equipment can allow you to get everything done in your own home.