Mastering the Surf Pop-Up: Techniques for a Smooth Ride

Unlock your peak athletic & life performance inside the Holistica Academy app.

Surfing Pop Up - Holistica Academy
Article summary:
Beginner to Intermediate
Time Commitment to See Results
30 Minutes / Day
Key Takeaways:
  • The surf pop-up is the pivotal moment in surfing, impacting your wave-count and what you get out of each wave.
  • Don’t be afraid to be Kooky: To master the pop-up, practice on land, engage upper body muscles, and ensure proper front foot placement.
  • Muscle memory plays a crucial role in executing a smooth and efficient pop-up technique.
  • Focusing on balance and coordinated movements can help you ride the waves with confidence and style.
Reccomended Program:
For those truly bitten by the bug – Surfing is not just a sport; it’s a way of life, a communion with the waves, and a pursuit of freedom. Central to the surfer’s experience (see: how good or bad a session goes) is the pop-up, the crucial moment when you rise from prone to a primed standing atop your board. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the surf pop-up technique, discuss muscle memory, and provide a set of surf-specific exercises to enhance your upper body strength, lower-body balance, and your surf pop-up proficiency.

Understanding the Surf Pop-Up The Take Off.

Mastering the surf pop-up take off is fundamental to catching waves and riding them with style. A common misconception. But the pop-up, is less of a “pop” and more of a take off. Just ask the shred and style master Brad. Rod chatted with Brad Gerlach of Wave Ki a while back to pick his brains on everything surfing, life and technique. Hear what nuggets of wisdom Brad had to share when talking specifically about the take off.
Unlock Your Surfing Pop Up
  Mastering the surf pop-up is fundamental to catching waves and riding them with style. Here’s a breakdown of the technique to be aware of.
  1. Paddling Position: Start in a prone position on your board, paddling with both hands toward the nose of your board.
  2. Hand Placement: As you feel the wave’s energy picking up the board and into the cortex, place your hands on the board’s rails slightly below your shoulders, near the chest region.
  3. Upper Body Engagement: Engage your upper body by pushing your chest and shoulders off the board. This motion initiates the pop-up.
  4. Front Foot Placement: Slide your front foot forward, landing it near the middle of the board. Keep your knees bent and your body low.
  5. Rear Foot Follows: Bring your rear foot forward and position it near the front foot, shoulder-width apart.
  6. Balancing Act: Find your balance with knees bent and arms outstretched for stability. Keep your weight centered and your gaze ahead.
  7. Ready to Ride: Congratulations, you’ve successfully popped up on your surfboard! Now, you’re ready to ride the wave.

The Role of Muscle Memory

Muscle memory is a critical component of the surf pop-up. It involves your muscles learning and adapting to a specific movement pattern through repetition. The more you practice the pop-up, the more ingrained the motion becomes, allowing you to execute it swiftly and fluidly when the waves beckon.

Exercises to Enhance Your Surf Pop-Up

We’re not here to coach you on the specifics of your surfing. We’re here to give you the tools to improve your stability, strength, stamina and flexibility to ensure you can execute your pop up flawlessly and smoothly. Meaning bigger wave count and better wave usage.

The exercises

To improve your surf pop-up technique, you can complement your time in the water with specific exercises that target upper body strength, balance, and muscle memory. Here’s a set of surf-focused exercises to help you level up your pop-up game.
Watch 5 exercises to improve your surfing pop up
Breakdown & Notes
Be sure to watch Rod give step by step guidance on pop up stability, strength and conordination exercises above. The below notes are some good pointers to keep in mind in order to get the most out of your pop up training.

1. Prone Core Activation Superman
  • Focus on core activation. Shaking is is a sign the right muscles are working!
  • Don’t cheat or slack. Maintain good posture the entire time.
2. Elephant Walk
  • Maintain good straight limbs
  • Keep the hips high, don’t drop them
  • Alternate the weight bearing and stretching between opposite limbs – right hand, left foot.
  • Don’t rush it.
3. Dive Push Jump
  • Be controlled during the dive.
  • Activate the back when in the upward dog section.
  • Land soft – don’t be clumsily thumping your feet on the ground. Silent landing of your feetis the sign of true core control.
4. BJJ Hip Mobility
  • This will be challenging if you’re not used to this kind of movement
  • Go Easy. Don’t push or rush it. Injuryfrom underpreparation is never fun!
5. Dive Pop Up (Alternating)
  • Switch out the upward dog flow section and jump into your pop up stance.
  • Alternate between regular or goofy.
Reps and Sets: To get the real benefit of these exercises, try to do this daily – 5 exercises at least 10 reps each for 3 sets.

Enhancing Your Surf Fitness

Beyond the pop-up technique, maintaining a high level of cardiovascular fitness is crucial for surfers. Surfing demands not only upper body strength but also stamina and balance. Here are additional exercises and tips to improve your overall surf fitness: 1. Cardiovascular Conditioning Engaging in cardiovascular workouts such as swimming, running, or cycling can improve your stamina, ensuring you have the endurance to paddle out, catch waves, and ride them with enthusiasm. Good zone 2 sessions for 45to 60+ minutes will help build a solid base on which the rest of your fitness can be based upon. 2. Core Strength A strong core is essential for stability and control on your board. Incorporate exercises like planks, Russian twists, swissball movements and leg raises into your routine to build core strength. 3. Leg Strength Strong legs – your glutes, quads, hamstrings and more, are essential for maintaining balance on your surfboard. Think about the about of force you need to generate to surf dynamically and also absorb the impact of the energy of waves. Squats, lunges, and calf raises are effective for leg strength. 3. Balance Training Aside from balance board exercises, consider incorporating activities like stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) or yoga on a paddleboard. These activities challenge your balance and improve your sense of control. 4. Flexibility and Mobility Regular stretching and mobility exercises help prevent injuries and enhance your range of motion. Don’t be rigid like an ironing board – it does your body and your surfing style no favours. Ensure your body is limber and ready to respond to the ever-changing conditions of the ocean.

Unlock Your Surfing Pop Up

Scroll to Top

The Art Of Longevity Book

Your Practical Guide to Total Mind and Body Wellness.