This post follows on from previous post highlighting the importance of the core in trim position and its relationship with float of a surfboard.
The gluteal muscles surrounding the hip are some of the most powerful in the body. Acting as the bridge between your upper and lower body, athletes with the biggest behinds will often be the fastest, most powerful and very resilient to lower back issues.
It's worth noting that paddling requires vast amounts of upper-body strength and endurance to perform optimally for long periods of time. However, what needs to be addressed is the body position (otherwise known as trim) when actually paddling for energy saving strokes.
If you look at any pro-surfer in the water, they are never lying completely flat. You can see the lower back is arched and their head and chest are elevated off the board when paddling. This dish shape glues the board to your trunk & hips to increase the efficiency of your strokes and allows you to have complete control when paddling into waves.
As you arch your lower back, it enables you to elevate your legs off the board to stop them acting like an anchor. This greatly aids you in getting into waves sooner allowing for a smoother transition from your board to your feet.
Do you struggle to drive your hips into the board? Try this:
“The Pound Coin Analogy”
This is something I have been showing intermediate surfers over the past year with great results. Although it sounds ridiculous just give it a go!
When you lie down on your board imagine you are constantly clenching a pound coin (nickel if you’re American) in between your bum cheeks.
The reason for this analogy is that it reinforces the hip drive down into the board to strengthen trim position. You do not have to squeeze as hard as you can – just enough to force the pressure through the middle of the board, to keep the downward force through the board stable on the surface of the water.
Follow this link for some surf specific glute exercises:
Glute exercises for surfers
This will allow the nose of your board and your head to move in unison making navigation outback easier and allow you make micro-adjustments to angle take-offs or to enable you to kick your legs to get into waves earlier when on the crest of the wave.
To strengthen trim position, emphasis on glute training will play a vital role in catching more waves as well as reducing fatigue through your upper body and lower back. This is because the prime mover of lower back extension can be attributed to the glutes as well as the rectus (six-pack) abdominis.
I recommend maintaining your glute strength and mobility through activation work pre & post surf. Also, plenty of hip extension exercises like glute bridges, either with bodyweight or barbells to increase overall power.
Take home point:
Strong glutes = greater performance increases!