Laird Hamilton’s Surfer Diet and Exercise Routine

By PJ Nestler | Mon Jul 13 2015

In the summer, big wave surfer Laird Hamilton’s workout combination of 90-minute functional strength training sessions alternated with his innovative pool workouts is considered highly demanding by most people’s standards. However, this is really just a warm-up for the “real deal.” When he is back in Hanalei Bay with his fellow big wave surfers, Laird’s real work begins. Anyone who has made the journey out to Kauai to spend a few days with Laird when he is at full tilt has seen first-hand the intense pace he and his tow-in partners maintain when the “big swell” is in from November to March.

Of course, with all Laird’s physical activity comes plenty of healthy eating and nutritional supplementation to ensure he has the nutritional foundation necessary to support such an intense schedule. Like most other world-class athletes, Laird has his own tried-and-true diet that he has perfected over years of personal experimentation. For those of you who like to live vicariously through Laird’s big wave exploits, or if you’re looking to pick up a few tips on how to perform your best, here is the typical Laird Hamilton diet and exercise routine for a big wave day.

The Typical Laird Hamilton Big Wave Day

5:50 A.M. – Hydrate

The very first part of Laird’s diet is drinking a giant glass of water mixed with ¼ tsp. of Himalayan salt and freshly squeezed lemon to get the pipes working.

6:00 A.M. – Father-daughter bonding breakfast

Brody is an early riser like Laird, while Reece sleeps in a bit longer. Brody loves the morning time she gets all to herself with her dad—including the yummy smoothie they share! 

This time of year, Laird adds two full scoops of whey protein for himself (staying warm in the surf burns up to an extra 400 calories an hour), plus ½ scoop for each girl. Then, he mixes in a serving of greens, as well as a broad concoction of fruits, nuts and other ingredients to increase the calorie count.

6:15 A.M. – Espresso

To get that early-morning pep in his step, Laird drinks a cup of his Superfood Coffee with creamer.

6:30 A.M. – Quick surf check

Laird makes calls to the crew to get them ready for the big day ahead.

6:45 A.M. – Barn

Laird makes a quick commute to his riverfront work shed—a workout barn and “man cave.”

7:00 A.M. – Gear check and load-up

It’s load-up time! Laird does a jet ski fuel check, rope and radio equipment inspection and board selection before loading it all up and hitting the road.

7:30 A.M. to 1 P.M. – Foilboard session

Laird’s 5-hour morning foilboard session includes at least 20 rides that last 2 to 3 minutes each.

1:30 P.M. – Massive lunch with the boys and/or Gabby

Lunchtime is when the Laird surfing diet gets local—usually including a major sushi and sashimi chow-down. He typically consumes enough food for two grown men! Laird eats up to eight assorted raw fresh fish and vegetable rolls, plus plenty of locally caught Ahi. There’s no bread or pasta—just lots of close-to-the-source foods, including lots of fresh fruit and coconut water that is hand-picked and sucked straight from the shell.

2:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. – Afternoon ocean session

The Laird Hamilton surfer workout continues with either foilboard session #2, or a tow-in or afternoon SUP session with 10 or more rides per person.

5:00 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. – Stretching and meditation

5:30 P.M. – Sunset river paddle board session

To complete Laird’s exercise routine, he does 40 minutes or more of high-intensity stand-up paddle boarding on the river.

6:30 P.M. – Dinner with the family

Gabby cooks almost every night. In keeping with the nutritional demands of the Laird Hamilton diet, she always includes plenty of high-quality protein like very lean steak seasoned with sea salt served with a variety of vegetables, quinoa and a big salad.

8:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. – Quiet time

Before bed, Gabby and Laird might take a night walk with the kids, read and share some personal time.

9:35 P.M. – Bed

Laird winds down early to recharge for the next day. He is adamant about getting enough sleep to feel refreshed, which is usually between seven and eight hours per night.

The Laird Hamilton Workout Routine is About Discipline

The friends and family who rotate into Kauai throughout the winter months to be a spectator to the daily exploits of Laird and his co-big wave surfers get to momentarily immerse themselves in this high-energy and high-risk routine. A few brave souls even get to join in on occasion! 

However, to maintain the pace of a big wave surfer day in and day out requires significant prior conditioning and discipline. So, when you start to feel like your 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity per day is a bit tiring, remember that Laird and his team get that much exercise in by 9 A.M., just as a warm-up to eight more hours of intense physical activity!

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