How to Improve Your Surfing Endurance and Power

By Greg Finch

Use these two tests and tools to determine and then track and improve your surfing endurance and power. Determine > Test > Improve here's how.

Up to now I've resisted getting a fitness tracker or smart watch. Just didn't want another thing beeping and distracting me from more productive or peaceful pursuits.

But it is hard to deny the benefits of the ever improving sensors and the insights they provide. So I invested in an Apple Watch Series 3 so I could test some protocols I've been working on to implement for my Surf Strong Tribers.

 I am going to focus on implementing the following two first tests to Improve  surfing endurance and power. As I gain data I am going to use the information to create and launch effective programs for the Surf Strong Community. I will also update this post.

Surf Session Tracking

Along with our Surf Strong Fit App I am going to utilize the Dawn Patrol and Surfline Session apps on my Apple Watch.

What I will be testing is how effective these three tools work together to create a comprehensive picture of my surf session. How it is intended to work is this:

  1. Start a session on the Dawn Patrol app on the Apple watch
  2. End session on Dawn Patrol app as I exit the ocean
  3. By the time I am out of my wetsuit the relevant data from the session will be available for my review

What will that look like? Where will you go to review the data? Great questions let's dive deeper into that.

Once the Surfline and Dawn Patrol apps are loaded on your Apple Watch you connect the two apps so they can sync information. Here's a nice tutorial from Surfline on that.

Surf Strong App Sync

Our Surf Strong App has native sync with the Apple Watch so data is automatically pulled into our dashboard to review and include in your overall program. Essentially merging your movement in and out of the water.

Here's a tutorial on how to sync your Apple Watch with our Surf Strong App. We continually are improving our app and adding new features.

If our internal testing proves encouraging we hope to natively integrate Dawn Patrol metrics into our app in the future.

Start your session on the ocean's edge

What that looks like on the Apple Watch

Stop your session as you exit the ocean

Hit the stop session button in Dawn Patrol as you exit the ocean. Dawn Patrol even has auto detection to help remind you if you forget to stop the surf session.

Open Dawn Patrol to Review Session

By the time you get out of your wetsuit and towel off your data should be ready for you to check out. Below is what a session looks like on the iPhone and data available on the Apple Watch app.

Overview look
Individual wave look

Open Surfline App to Review Video

If your session had you in front of any of the Surfline cams your Apple Watch and Dawn Patrol work together to create clips of video where the cam caught your waves.

As the quality of the cameras continue to improve with Surfline so will the footage. Right now it is more of a fun extra than any viable video to review.

The MAF Method

Dr. Phil Maffetone was the personal coach for Mark Allen. Allen is a six-time winner of Ironman World Championship, and he won 20 straight triathlons from 1988-90. Many consider him the greatest endurance athlete ever. Allen credits Dr. Maffetone and the Maf Method for much of his success.

Dr. Maffetone put these concepts into an actionable plan but they are far from new. We just keep forgetting and then rediscovering the windfall of energy that is stored fat.

Available energy in the average body

The average human body has about 165,000 calories available at any one time. Only +/- 2,000 from sugar, +/- 25,000 from protein and +/- 140,000 from fat. That means about 87% of your available calories for metabolism are in stored fat!

We need to be able to use those don't you think? Here's a test on how to start.

Three Part Two Week Test - See more about the MAF Method at

1. Exercise

Cardio work in the fat burning zone only for 20 mins a day for two weeks and track progress to improve your surfing endurance and power.

To determine your fat burning zone Subtract your age from 180, then modify from one of the categories below:
  • If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.), are in rehabilitation, are on any regular medication, or are in Stage 3 (chronic) overtraining (burnout), subtract an additional 10.
  • If you are injured, have regressed or not improved in training (such as poor MAF Tests) or competition, get more than two colds, flu or other infections per year, have seasonal allergies or asthma, are overfat, are in Stage 1 or 2 of overtraining, or if you have been inconsistent, just starting, or just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.
  • If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems mentioned in a) or b), no modification is necessary (use 180 minus age as your MAF HR).
  • If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, have made progress in your MAF Tests, improved competitively and are without injury, add 5.


  • The MAF 180 Formula may need to be further individualized for athletes over the age of 65. For some, up to 10 beats may have to be added for those only in category (d) of the Formula. This does not mean 10 should automatically be added, but that an honest self-assessment be made.
  • For athletes 16 years of age and under, the formula is not applicable; rather, a MAF HR of 165 should be used.

2. Nutrition 

For a period of two weeks, just eat as much as you want from what you’re allowed, and avoid what’s restricted. 

Yes foods

Plant Foods

  • Tomato, onion, garlic, greens such as spinach, kale, chard and all lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, zucchini, etc.
  • Tree nuts (and nut butters): Macadamia, almond, walnut, for example. (Does NOT include peanuts or cashews).
  • Coconut: oil, cream, milk and flour.

Animal Foods

  • Meats: Beef, turkey, lamb, pork, other natural meats.
  • Fish: Wild-caught cold water fish such as salmon.
  • Shellfish.
  • Whole eggs.


  • Unprocessed natural cheeses: Swiss, brie, Jarlsberg, parmesan, etc.
  • Cream: heavy cream, sour cream, butter (unsalted), full-fat crème fraiche.

Other fats

  • Oils: avocado, coconut and olive oil.


  • Vegetable juice.
  • Coffee or tea, if you usually drink it.
  • Vinegar: balsamic, apple-cider, etc.
  • Alcohol: dry red wine, pure distilled spirits such as gin, vodka and whiskey.

No Foods 

Avoid all of the following foods during the Two-Week Test:

  • All sugar and sugar-containing products: Includes basically anything with honey, sugar, agave, fructose, cane sugar, or syrup in its ingredient list.
  • Sweets and desserts: cake, cookies, ice cream, muffins, candy, gum, breath mints.
  • All non-caloric artificial and so-called “natural” sweeteners, including stevia.
  • Many canned and prepared fruits and veggies contain sugar or starch. Read the labels!
  • All bread, muffins,  rolls and product made with flour (whole-grain, multi-grain, flaxseed, rye, gluten-free, etc).
  • All products made from corn and corn flour, including tortillas.
  • All pasta.
  • All snacks: crackers, chips, rice cakes, etc.
  • Energy bars and sports drinks.
  • Ketchup, mayo and other sauces and condiments. These often contain hidden sugars.
  • Rice: wild, brown, white, basmati, etc.
  • All other wheat and wheat products: whole wheat, farro, bulgur, khorasan, millet, etc.
  • All other grains: millet, quinoa, etc.
  • All potatoes.
  • All fruits and berries.
  • All legumes: beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, peanuts, etc.


  • Processed meats: sausage, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, and deli meats.
  • Smoked products: Jerky (beef, buffalo, etc), smoked fish.
  • Canned and prepared meats. Many contain hidden sugars or starch.


  • Milk: low-fat, non-fat milk, half-and-half.
  • Yogurt and kefir.
  • Processed cheeses: American, pre-sliced, single-serving, pre-shredded products.


  • Avoid corn, safflower, soy, peanut or canola oils.


  • All fruit juice.
  • All soda: diet and non-diet soda.
  • All diet drinks: Diet shakes, etc.
  • “Enhanced” Beverages: vitamin water, mineral water with “health” additives.
  • Sports drinks.
  • Sweet and white wines: including liqueur, Champagne, rum, etc.

If it comes in a box, bag, jar or can, there’s a good chance it contains sugar or starch!

3. Stress

Stress can cause your health and fitness to deteriorate fast and should not be overlooked.

Three Types of Stress

Physical stress:

  • Too much exercise (over-training)
  • Too little exercise
  • Sitting too much
  • Poor sleep quality/quantity.

Biochemical stress:

  • Poor food choices
  • Indoor air pollution
  • Drug side effects

Mental-emotional stress:

  • Social and work related stress
  • Unhealthy attitudes such as “no-pain, no-gain

These two tests will be a strong start to setting a new foundation with which to improve your surfing endurance and power.

My stamina and paddling are really improved and that allows me to surf longer and stronger


I've noticed a big difference in really two main things. One is my pre-surf warm up gets my body loose and ready to surf. I feel like I'm not step-tripping over to myself as much. Doing those dumb falls that just waste a bunch of waves.

Second my stamina and paddling are really improved and that allows me to surf longer and stronger.

Josh Beckett - Winemaker

My Surfing Has Improved On So Many Levels


My surfing has improved on so many different levels working with Greg. I have developed much more confidence in the water. I feel more comfortable & strong out there. I can paddle longer, pop-up faster, and turn with more power.

Heather Miller - Acupuncturist for WSL

Those aches & pains after a sesh aren't there anymore


It really gave me direction of what to do to get my body feeling better. Some of those aches and pains I would get after a sesh aren't there anymore. I could see my body becoming much more reliable for me because of the exercises and techniques that were taught.

The personal service was awesome! Greg was very knowledgeable and easy to reach whenever. If I ever had a question he was there to help quickly.

Scott Williams

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