Maximal strength training improves surfboard sprint and endurance paddling performance in competitive and recreational surfers

Document Type

Journal Article


National Strength & Conditioning Association


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Originally published as: Coyne, JOC, Tran, TT, Secomb, JL, Lundgren, LE, Farley, ORL, Newton, RU, and Sheppard, JM. (2017). Maximal strength training improves surfboard sprint and endurance paddling performance in competitive and recreational surfers. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 31(1): 244–253. Original article available here


Upper-body (UB) strength has very high correlations with faster surfboard paddling speeds. However, there is no research examining the effects of improving UB strength has on surfboard paddling ability. This study aimed to determine the influence that improvements in UB closed–kinetic chain maximal strength have on surfboard paddling in both competitive and recreational surfers. Seventeen competitive and recreational male surfers (29.7 ± 7.7 years, 177.4 ± 7.4 cm, 76.7 ± 9.9 kg) participated in a repeated-measures, parallel control study design. Anthropometry; 5-, 10-, and 15-m sprint; and 400-m endurance surfboard paddling tests along with pull-up and dip 1 repetition maximum strength tests were assessed pre- and postintervention. Subjects in the training group performed 5 weeks of maximal strength training in the pull-up and dip. Differences between the training and control groups were examined postintervention. The training group increased their speed over the 5-, 10-, and 15-m sprint, whereas the control group became slower (d = 0.71, 0.51, and 0.4, respectively). The training group also displayed faster endurance paddling performance compared with the control group (d = 0.72). Short-term exposure to maximal strength training elicits improvements in paddling performance measures. However, the magnitude of performance increases seems to be dependent on initial strength levels with differential responses between strong and weaker athletes. Although a longer maximal strength training period may have produced more significant paddling improvements in stronger subjects, practitioners are unlikely to have any more than 5 weeks in an uninterrupted block with competitive surfing athletes. This study reveals that a “threshold” level of maximal strength that if possessed, short-term maximal strength training may only provide little improvement in paddling performance.