I took up the shena (aka push up board) only 3 months ago and was immediately impressed with new feelings of glow in my arms, core, shoulders and more surprisingly, hips. It also coincided with a surfing/yoga holiday to Morocco for 10 days so specific training was in mind.
Surfing is not going to happen unless you have paddle fitness. The best way is to, well, paddle on your board. Not the most convenient for those 2 hours drive from the sea. Next best to get down your local pool and swim lengths. If this doesn’t suit then I can recommend the foundation kettlebell swing – with emphasis on the downswing. Not many do this exercise, and it is not for the beginner to try. But enough of KBs and swimming as this article is about how the push up board prepared me for a surf trip…
My basic pre-surf bodyweight work-out consisted of jump-ups plus a mix of push up board exercises to compliment being on the board. Stability of your shoulder girdle is necessary for those effortless pop-ups when catching the nice green waves. The ability to keep your head up while paddling and getting up is also a must. The push up board offers this development with a host of press-up variations and more. One repeated exercise involved starting with a wide leg downward dog, lowering to a low plank with elbows close to the sides and finally pushing through into a cobra with straight arms. Perfect to familiarise muscle chains for head-up paddling abilities.
Pushups with circles and the awesome Twisting pushups utilising oblique crunches were working on many levels. The core was attacked from constantly changing angles. The shoulders worked hard, developing the stabilising rotator-cuffs. And, surprisingly, my hip flexors were challenged as I noticed new flexibility developing in this part of the body too. I didn’t realise at the time, but can now vouch for the twisting push-up to help hugely in making it possible to duck dive oncoming waves when paddling out beyond the breakers and get into green waves outback. This exercise is tailor-made to develop this skill – under the wave, then board, rotating 360° out behind the wave back on top, ready to paddle then repeat and repeat…
Hearing of other people’s aching muscles gave an inward smugness of not feeling any major pain in my upper body after doing 2 straight days of 5 hours in the water. However, my calves were screaming due to doing the basics in waist deep white water, constantly trying to out jump the frothy sets. Something to rember next time the surfboard gets a call.
You can find some amazing information and videos from Kashi down under at persianyoga.com
Also thanks to Maria, Medhi’s 1 & 2 and everyone at MarocSurfCamp