How to Pop-Up When Surfing: Learn the Best Exercises


Surfing is a fun water sport. For novices, it is intimidating. The act of balancing on a surfboard is not one thing that you can do on your first try. It requires patience and determination. Chances are, you will end up falling on the board several times. This, however, should not give you the reason to give up.

There are many skills you need to learn when you are surfing. Among others, one of the most important is the pop-up. Read the rest of this short guide and learn from the tips we’ll share. We will focus on the exercises you can do at home to improve your skills and strengthen your body, which is a good way to prepare yourself for the physical demands of the sport.

What is a Pop-Up?

If you are new to surfing, you are probably wondering about what exactly a pop-up is. It refers to the act of moving up on the surfboard. This is where you transition from a paddling position to the proper surfing stance. You will need to push your body up so that you can stand properly. It is important to do this properly so that you won’t lose your balance. Otherwise, you will fall off the board before you can even ride a wave.

Exercises for Better Surfing Pop-Ups

Flexibility, strength, and power – these are the foundations of a great pop-up. The best thing that you can do to work on these three things is to exercise regularly. With that, this section discusses the best exercises to incorporate in your workout routine to make you a better surfer.


This is one of the most common exercises for surfers, and there is a reason why that is the case. It helps improve your arms, legs, and shoulders, which are all crucial in a pop-up. Most people, however, do the push-ups wrong. This can make your body painful after your workout. For the right way to do this, follow these steps.

  • Assume the right position on the floor. Make sure that you do not drop your head. It will weaken the important muscles that your body needs to work.
  • Don’t sag your hips or torso. If you are in a sagging position, this won’t activate your muscles. It also increases the likelihood of an injury.
  • Your hands should be at least chest-width apart. Keep your feet firm and not too far or too near. Pay attention to the proper alignment of the cranium, pelvis, and spine.
  • Push yourself down and move up. Use your arm muscles. Control your movement both when lowering your body and getting up. When you push your body up, you must be in a straight arm plank position.
  • While you are doing the push-up, make sure that you do not drop your knees on the floor.
  • As you push your body up, tuck your elbows in next to your chest. It should not flare on the sides.

Exercise Ball Jackknife

If you have an exercise ball at home, this is another exercise that can help in improving your surfing popup. It helps to train you for the movements you will make once you are surfing. This exercise is also important for control, core strength, and balance. The exercise mimics the action of popping up.

  • Your starting position is a straight arm plank. Raise your feet on the top of the exercise ball. Make sure that it is at the center.
  • Once your shins are resting on the ball, draw your knees towards your chest. Keep your torso straight. This movement will move the ball forward.
  • Push the ball backward while keeping your back straight once the ball reaches its original position.
  • Take this exercise to the next level. Do this with a single leg on the ball while you raise the other one.

Deep Squat

The deep squat requires you to move ass to grass. Many will think that a squat is a leg exercise, but in reality, it benefits the entire body. It strengthens your spine, hips, knees, and ankles, which are all crucial components of the perfect pop-up when surfing.

  • When doing a deep squat, you need to focus on your mobility.  Your knees, ankles, and hips should all be flexible. If they are too tight, it will exert unnecessary pressure on the muscles that you will use as you squat.
  • Engage your muscles. The heavier you are, the more important this step is. This is also important in activating your body.
  • Pull yourself down while keeping your knees and back straight. Go as low as possible but be careful so that you won’t lose your balance.

Pro Tips

Aside from learning the basic exercises that will make pop-ups a lot easier, take note of the tips we’ll briefly talk about below:

  • Do the pop-up in a single and fluid motion. Do not rely on your knees as you move up.
  • A low center of gravity is also crucial for your pop-up. Do it slowly to find your balance. Bend your knees and keep your head straight to know the direction where you should head after the pop-up.
  • When you are on your board, lie on your chest. Position your head straight facing the nose of the board. Put your feet at the end of the board. Keep your body straight. Position your hands on the board. Keep it flat. Assume the same position you would during a push-up. Arch your back and push yourself up to the board without using your knees. Once you are on the board, see to it that you are in the center to avoid losing your balance.
  • If you easily get tired and lose balance while doing the pop-up on the board, this means that you are doing it wrong. Your form is probably the issue, or perhaps, you need more practice. Increase the repetitions of your exercise to build a better physical foundation.
  • You won’t get it right the first time. This should not discourage you. Instead, this should motivate you to do better.

Wrap Up

Anyone who is learning how to surf should know how to do the pop-up properly. It allows you to transition smoothly from the paddling position to a standing posture without losing your balance. Take note of the exercises mentioned above to build your strength and hone your technique. With consistent practice, it won’t take long before you will be able to do the pop-up like an experienced surfer.

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