IT’S a long way from Penrith to the waves, as a young Mick Fanning discovered as an eager but landlocked grommet, nagging his parents to drive him from The Riff to the beach every weekend.

Now a three-time world surfing champion, Fanning believes his working class roots, and those endless hot car trips, helped earn his reputation as the hardest-working surfer on tour.

“I have never forgotten where I came from and how hard I had to work to get here,” Fanning said.

“Early in my career I was super intense but now I think I have found the right balance between working hard in training so I have no doubts or regrets later on and then when I am out in the water surfing I know I have done all the hard work and I am prepared so I can just enjoy it.”


Lung capacity is crucial for a top surfer.

When tackling monster breaks like Pipeline in Hawaii or Teahupo’o in Tahiti, surfers inevitably spend long periods underwater, so Fanning heads to the local pool for a torture-test he calls ‘Empty Lungs’.

“We blow everything out and we sit down there (on the bottom of the pool) for about a minute ten (70 seconds), and then at the end of that we swim a lap of the 25 metre pool. Those are pretty tough,” he said.

Just weeks ago Fanning came agonisingly close to a fourth world title, finishing second to Brazilian whiz kid Gabriel Medina, but he’s not having a summer holiday; Fanning’s off-season ramps up right now.

“This is the time of the year that sets you up for the tour. I make sure that I surf once or twice a day, I also get to the gym, three times a week for a couple of hours,” he said.

“In the gym I focus really hard on my core and balance by doing weights in an unstable environment like standing on one leg or on a Swiss ball which works the same small stabilising muscles I use when I surf.”

No paleo

Mick Fanning is way too practical for any silly diets.

He just eats like a man: practical, easily accessible food that works with his travel regime.

“There are some guys on tour who are super strict with what they do and don’t eat like ‘no grains’ and ‘Paleo’ but I think being so obsessive about what you can eat is counter-productive with the stress of trying to find say a paleo cafe on a small island too stressful and worse for you than any bit of bread is,” Fanning said.

Mick tries to cook for himself whenever possible (roasts are his favourite) and has just one rule: always include something fresh, like salad or vegies.

Mick’s avocado smash

  • One avocado
  • Two slices of sourdough bread
  • Slices of tomato
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Feta cheese
  • Bacon (fat trimmed)


It’s pretty simple: toast the bread, chuck on the avo and throw in whatever else takes your fancy.

Avocado is a great source of mono-unsaturated fats which is ideal for blasting gut fat.

Sourdough releases energy much slower than white processed bread which will prevent that dreaded energy crash.

Eggs would make a great protein addition. Mick’s allergic, unfortunately, so he uses bacon instead. Just remember to trim the fat.

Butt blast

Fanning needs huge explosive power to come up hard off the sand after a wave, or pull off an impressive turn.

To strengthen his legs and glutes, he does a one-legged squat, adding a medicine ball for some extra load on his legs and to work his core.

Stand facing away from a chair or a surface that is knee height.

Place one foot on your chair to almost look like you are in the middle of a running stride.

Once you are set, lower yourself to a point where you can feel the strain, then come back to your initial position — that is one rep.

Man Challenge: Mick did 56 one-legged squats in one minute, swapping legs at the 30-second mark. How will you go?