It's that time of year again when winter wetsuits, gloves and boots are needed in order to get in the waters around Europe. If you're planning surfing trips close to home or thinking of heading south and surfing Portugal, then training for winter surf is essential.

  • Flexibility- The cold tends to make us all tense up, and our wetsuits hamper our movement in the water.  However, by introducing exercises that increase our flexibility and range of motion, we are able to feel more confident in the waves and have greater chance of being able to move freely.  Try adding yoga, pilates or even a simple stretch routine to your regular work out.  Also, don't feel that you have to go to a particular class if the style doesn't suit you. Try out different classes or even get a book until you find a style you like.

  • Strength- Even though you may have been great in the summer waves in a lightweight summer wetsuit or boardshorts, winter waves require a lot more strength.  The Atlantic storms bring amazing waves to our shores, and are well worth getting wet for, however, your body will need to be strong in order to paddle in your winter wetsuit. Thicker, heavier wetsuits keep you warm, but also slow you down.  Moving with an extra stone in weight makes catching your wave, that little bit harder.  So make sure you introduce extra strength training into your workout routine.  Use weights, use your own body weight and even mix it up with different classes.  If your muscles are getting stronger, so will your surfing.

  • Mentality- Half the battle of winter waves is that they are cold, and may well be amazing when the weather is grey and/or raining.  It can take a lot of determination to decide to go for that surf.  However, it is always worth it... that feeling of catching your first wave, of being part of nature and the seasons.  You feel alive.  So if you catch yourself wondering if it is worth it and feeling lazy, remind yourself of the last wave you caught and how good it felt.  It really is mind over matter sometimes.

  • Diet- Although most of us don't like to admit it, with the winter season comes the stoggy winter food and drink, and a few extra pounds... It's very easy to allow bad eating habits to creep in that result in extra weight.  We don't need it, because it makes it that much harder to paddle and catch waves.  As hard as it may be to say no to eggnog and mince pies amongst others, there is no harm in waiting for a special occasion, and saving yourself a whole lot of hard work getting rid of that extra blubber.  Keep to seasonal vegetables, berries and brews- the more local and seasonal, the better.  Your happy surfing self will thank you for it when you're catching waves easily.