On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
Have a quick search on Google for the “greatest surfer of all time” and chances are you’ll get Robert Kelly Slater’s Wikipedia pop up in the first result. There’s no surprise there really, just taking a look through his surfing achievements over the years will make you understand he’s the GOAT in the sport.
I don’t know anyone in the world who is becoming the best at something without being obsessive, because they love it.The Real-Life Diet of Kelly Slater, Who Thinks Everyone Should Be in Therapy | GQ
Born in Cocoa Beach, Florida to Judy Moriarity and Stephen Slater, Kelly grew up with two brothers, Sean and Stephen, and started surfing at just five years old. Within a few years of hitting the water, he was entering and winning surfing events. At 12 years old, he won his first age-division United States championship title, and he’s kept his eye on the prize ever since.
“I finished high school in ‘91, in June, and by July I was starting on the tour,” Slater recalled in an interview with GQ. “‘92 was the first year where the whole tour was just the top 44 surfers in the world. I qualified in 43rd place, and made it by one spot. The following year, I won the world title.”
After winning his first world title at the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii, he has won the World Surf League Champion a total of 11 times — the most in history — and holds the distinction of being the youngest surfing world champion (at 20 years old) as well as the oldest (at 39 years old).
The most amazing thing about Kelly Slater is that he’s still going strong in the later stages of his surfing career — at the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters, he became the oldest surfer in history to perform a ten-point ride in a World Surf League competition at 47 years old.
I think I’m still doing this because I do know that on my day, I can beat anyone, anywhere. You have to feel that. And if you don’t feel that, you just shouldn’t do it.Kelly Slater: The Good, Bad, and Very Ugly Parts of What It Takes to Be the G.O.A.T. | The Inertia
Kelly Slater’s daily diet & training routine
On a typical day the legendary surfer isn’t much of an early riser. “I like to get my eight hours and I like to stay up late at night,” he told Bon Appétit in 2012. “If I want to get up and surf, maybe I’ll get up at like 7 or 8 and look around for surf.”
But before he hits the water, Slater usually starts off his day with some warm lemon water as a morning cleanse, then makes himself a smoothie. “My favorite breakfast is just making a big healthy smoothie, some fresh fruit and some protein powders and some little health remedies that I throw in there,” he told GQ. Other days he might have some eggs and pancakes, although that doesn’t happen as often.
Then again, there are some days where he’ll skip breakfast just so that he can get into the surf as soon as possible. “If the waves are really good, I have trouble even bothering putting food in my mouth unless I know I’m going to be surfing for a long time and have to eat something,” he explained. “Surfing is the best way to wake up.”
When it comes to his training routine, Slater enjoys a variety of workouts and movement practices. He’s big on Pilates, stretching and yoga, and also does a lot of physiotherapy. For the American surfer, flexibility, leg strength and cardio are the top priorities for his training routine, while bulking up his muscles is not — “building up too much muscle could make me a little stiff,” he told Men’s Health.
I think cardio is a big one. With surfing, we’re not into endurance cardio, it’s quick. It’s almost like sprinter cardio, but spread over 30 minutes when you need your cardio to be pretty good. And if you’re surfing a long way, that’s a lot of overall cardio.The Real-Life Diet of Kelly Slater, Who Thinks Everyone Should Be in Therapy | GQ
As Slater’s gotten older over the decades, he’s put an emphasis on his recovery routines — undergoing different types of massages — shiatsu, Thai, Swedish deep tissue, and BioSync. He also does a lot of work with chiropractors due to having scoliosis.
“I have a pretty big curve in my back,” he revealed an interview with Tim Ferriss. “And from that, my muscles get really imbalanced. So I kind of need a blend. I mean, my neck will go out and my lower back will go out. So I need to get adjusted and kind of put that back. I sometimes throw a rib out.”
He’s also a huge fan of the Hypervolt massage gun for recovery. “I’ll take a Hypervolt on a plane and I’ll just work my legs for an hour, work on my neck, working on anywhere I can,” he told GQ. “You kind of loosen up. The more bodywork you get in your life, the more you find out it’s all tied together—something in your ankle can be bothering your knee.”
Before you go…
Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.