My Out of the Water Practices

Erik Antonson
Erik Antonson
August 3, 2016August 4, 2016

Good morning folks!  I’m sitting on my front porch, I’ve got a mountain valley view from the house, and there’s horses walking on the hilltop with the sun rising behind.  About to go coach Trevor and Jim, and the surf is pumping.

And while everything’s great here, I have been feeling a pang of guilt for leaving you all hanging.  I’m stoked that Trent emailed in yesterday with a question that sparked this blog.

I know that you have mentioned things that you do besides paddlesurfing to help improve your performance such as foundation training, hypoxic drills, and open ocean swimming. In your opinion what are the top 5 things that someone can do to help improve their performance?  Thanks

Alright Trent, here you go – this is what I’m doing now, and I like to mix it up, so this list isn’t the same as 3 months ago or in the future.

Foundation Training – I’ve got a bad back, pars fracture when I was younger, now a slipped vertebrae.  I thought I was headed for spinal fusion 8 years ago, then met Eric Goodman of FT through a mutual friend.  I tell the whole story on our latest podcast.  FT is now a part of my life, I mix it in during warm-ups, after sessions, and before bed.  When I’m more messed-up I practice more.  When I’m feeling great, I still try to practice daily.  Eric and I are doing a joint paddle surfing/FT retreat next year (probably November, that will be confirmed very soon) and 8 – 10 lucky folks will get to join us.  If you’re interested hit me up via email to get on the list.  I’m also trying to go to his certification in Santa Barbara during September.

Wim Hoff Method – If you’re not familiar with Wim, watch this short doc on him here.  Kelly Slater just did his training on Maui, and Laird loves it.  The training is a series of deep breathes followed by a breath hold without air in your lungs.  Seems simple, it is simple, but it has massive effects on your body chemistry.  (I’m not a doctor, and I don’t know the long-term effects, do it at your own risk)

Here’s what I understand about the process.  It’s hyperventilating.  Hyperventilating removes the CO2 from your blood which changes your body PH.  CO2 is very acidic, and so removing it temporarily brings about a super alkaline state.  The body freaks out that it has been thrown out of whack and releases hormones and adeline.   From my personal experience it supercharges your immune system and makes you feel all-around awesome.

I normally do about 20 deep breaths, followed immediately by 20 fire-breaths (yoga fast breathing), to 10 semi-deep fast breaths and finishing with 5-10 deep full inhale/exhales.  I hold for 5-8 seconds, breathe out all my air and hold.  There is a tingling feeling, a vibration that will last for up to a minute.  This is when all the good stuff is happening.

If you do try it, just make sure you aren’t anywhere near water.  It isn’t a breathe hold technique, as hyperventilating and removing CO2 also lowers the breath reflex.  So, it’s incredibly dangerous in diving.

Here’s Wim on Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan.

Turkish Get Ups –Paddle surfing is an insane workout.  I’ve worked out in the gym since I was 16 years old, but with daily paddle surfing these past few years, I’ve been able to keep a solid physique with little work outside of the water.  Paddle surfing keeps you lean, and also provides enough resistance to keep on mass.  I was a swimmer, and folks talk about the swimmer’s body, but the paddle surfing body is better.

However, if you’re paddling super small boards, you’re probably favoring one side and thus becoming, or already, out of balance.  I noticed this about a year ago, left leg was a touch bigger and stronger than the right.

Enter Kettle Bells.  Here’s what strength coach for the Atlanta Falcons Jeff Fish has to say about symmetry and the Turkish Get-up.  Link to full article here.

Dragon Door:   Have you found that specific kettlebell exercises and FMS correctives translate into better performance on the field? If so, which ones?
Jeff Fish:   Yes, there are certainly many that influence correction and conditioning. At the end of the day the top priority in this system is to reduce injury risk factors and enhance movement. Therefore we need to look at how we blend the two areas of correcting poor patterns, and improving our performance variables (functional strength, power, and speed) without negatively affecting the other. For example, we strive to achieve symmetry in all aspects of physical development and utilize the Turkish get-up as a means to improve that quality.
An instructional video of Turkish Get Up.

I noticed a tangible difference in maneuver completion after incorporating Turkish Get Ups.  I felt glued to my board.

Goblet Squats

I’ve found that practicing goblet squats, and focusing on form, improves movement patterns for paddle surfing and hip flexibility.  If you watch any of the best guys in paddle surfing, they all have incredible posture and movement driven from the legs, knees, not the hip hinge (except in paddle stroke).  It’s important in all aspects of surfing to keep your butt low and making goblet squats a daily practice will reinforce that behavior.

Meditate – I recently found meditation.  And I have approached it in the same manner that I do most things worth exploring –  I dove in head first and tried to learn as much as I could to optimize it’s affect.

Here’s what I found:

Headspace is a great app to teach you processes to allow your mind to relax into a meditation.  It took me about a week to get it and then I was hooked.  The next few weeks felt like a brain cleaning.  I’d get super deep and random memories from decades ago would run through my mind.  Stuff I hadn’t thought of for literally 20 years, but crystal clear, and important in some way.  I felt this was a subconscious way of showing where seemingly innate thoughts or routines originated.  Strange.  Also amazing how incredible the mind is and how little we understand ourselves.

Once I got past the brain cleaning, which took a few weeks, I was able to direct focus on surfing or interviews and let the subconscious run with the topic and just watch.  I think all our best thoughts come from deeper in the mind and this focused meditation is a way to tap into that process more purposefully.

In particular, my changing understanding of stability came from a post surf meditation.


What are your out of the water routines and practices?  I’m always looking for the new new thing to explore.


Progression Journal


  • rich

    Great job Erik!

  • Jon


    Sounds like you’re already doing some good KB drills, but you might want to consider adding swings to the mix. Swings are a nice complement to goblet squats: While squats are slow, grinding movements that emphasize the anterior chain; swings are dynamic, power moves that work the posterior chain.
    If you do the triptych of {TGU, GS, Swings} on a regular basis, you’re probably getting 80% of the benefit of a full weight-lifting regime, with only 20% of the time commitment.

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