When the sun is shining and the temperatures begin to rise, it's Mother Nature's call to get outdoors! Step up your training routine as you dig your toes into the sand and feel the ocean breeze with this beach workout.
You don't need any equipment: The only thing you need is the motivation to get started. So if you find yourself lying on your beach towel and feeling like breaking a sweat, seize the opportunity before the urge passes you by like an ocean wave.
Benefits of Beach Workouts
A beach workout can challenge every muscle in your body in a whole new way. Workouts like the body-weight circuit below test your cardiovascular fitness as well as your functional strength.
This workout in particular alternates between agility drills and dynamic, full-body strength-training exercises, which are made more challenging by being done on the sand. The uneven surface of the sand forces you to work harder to push off the surface when running and doing other moving exercises (like lunges). You'll also recruit more smaller stabilizing muscles that normally aren't targeted when you exercise on flat, stable ground like at the gym.
Plus, you get all the benefits of working out in the great outdoors, including reduced risk of depression, lowering stress levels, boosting immunity and improved memory and focus.
Tips for Staying Safe in the Sand and Surf
While this workout doesn't require any equipment, it's important to properly prepare for environmental elements. Chris Smith, an ocean lifeguard in Los Angeles recommends training before noon or after 4 p.m. to avoid uncomfortably high temperatures, intense sun rays and scorching sand.
While Smith prefers training barefoot on the beach, he suggests a minimalist shoe as an alternative because they can protect your soles from hot sand, blisters and sharp objects like a jagged seashells, broken glass or fishhooks. And don't forget to bring plenty of water and apply sunscreen!
Walking Lunge With Twist and Crunch
Barefoot or not, your stability and balance will be challenged in this first exercise. Performing single-leg exercises like lunges in the sand adds a new level of complexity to the move and can help improve ankle and knee stability.
- Stand with hands behind your head.
- Step forward with one leg and bend the front knee to a 90-degree angle.
- Squeeze your glutes and push through your front heel as you lift your back knee and draw it in toward your chest, crunching the opposite elbow toward the knee.
- Bring the elbow back to starting position as you step the raised knee forward and repeat on the other side.
Reps: "walk" forward for 50 feet
Skipping may seem like child's play, but it's also an extremely dynamic and effective movement for improving speed and power. Pro beach-volleyball player Avery Drost recommends plyometric moves, such as skipping in the sand, because they cause less wear and tear on your joints and connective tissues.
- Draw one knee into toward your chest as you simultaneously drive the opposite arm forward with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and rise onto the ball of the foot of the opposite leg and forcefully push the ground away.
- As soon as the front foot lands on the ground, quickly repeat the motion on the other side.
- Aim to get as much height and distance as possible.
Reps: skip for 50 feet
Burpee Broad Jump
This next exercise may have you looking like a sugar cookie (but covered in sand instead of sprinkles). But have no fear! The sand provides a soft landing.
- From standing, bend your knees, sink your hips low and place your hands shoulder-distance apart about one foot out in front of you.
- Step or jump your feet behind you, coming into the top of the push-up position.
- Perform a push-up.
- Bend your knees as you step or jump your feet in toward your hands.
- Stand up with your knees slightly bent and torso leaning slightly forward.
- Jump forward as far as you can, landing gently with your knees bent.
Reps: repeat for 50 feet
Side shuffling is a great way to strengthen your hips and thighs. This lateral motion helps tighten and firm outer hips and thighs and slims the inner thighs and, as a cardio move, increases your heart rate and works up a sweat as well.
- Stand sideways with your legs wider than hip-distance apart.
- Bend your knees and sit your hips back.
- Keep your chest lifted and abs drawn in as you step to the side, then bring the other leg in toward the leading leg, laterally shuffling.
Reps: 50 feet in each direction
This move will have you skittering along the shoreline like the critters of the sea! It's an excellent move to target your shoulders, triceps, glutes and hamstrings. It also stretches and opens your chest, abdominals and hip flexors. It may feel a bit goofy, but it's definitely fun.
- Start seated with your knees bent in front of you.
- Place your hands on the sand behind your hips, fingers pointed away from your body.
- Evenly press into your feet and hands as you lift your hips off the ground.
- Moving forward, step your right foot out in front as you move your left hand forward.
- Repeat on the other side, alternating hands and feet.
Reps: 50 feet
Backpedaling in the sand enhances your ability to coordinate upper- and lower-body limbs and increases agility. Movements such as this enhance your proprioception (being aware of the position and movement of your body) and kinesthetic awareness (the ability to move your body in harmony).
- Pick up one foot, pull up the knee and then step the foot back behind you.
- Quickly repeat on the other side and keep repeating this backward-running motion.
- You can look over one shoulder until you get your bearings.
- Once you feel comfortable, pick up the pace and really pump your arms.
- Be sure to pick your feet up high out of the sand to avoid tripping.
Reps: 50 feet
Walking Single-Leg Deadlift
Unilateral exercises like single-leg deadlifts challenge your muscles and your concentration. Performing this exercise slowly can become like a moving meditation, enhancing your focus in yoga class, at work or just going about your daily life.
- Step forward with your right foot.
- Keep a slight bend in the knee as you lean forward, keeping your back flat and torso parallel to the ground.
- Your arms extend down toward the sand and your left leg extends straight back behind you.
- Push through the heel of your planted foot to stand up with a flat back.
- Bring your left knee into your chest and step forward.
- Repeat on the other side and continue repeating.
Reps: 50 feet
Since running in the sand is easier on your joints (but more challenging for your muscles), you can safely increase the intensity and pick up the pace. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology found that people who ran on sand burned 1.2 to 1.8 times more calories per mile.
- The ideal body position for a sprint is perpendicular to the ground with the neck and head naturally in line.
- During takeoff, the body may lean slightly toward the ground and remain almost vertical during the max speed phase.
- The aim is to "push" the ground away through the ball of your foot and move forward.
- Keep your core engaged, drive your knees into your chest and pump your arms, moving opposing arms and legs as you race forward.
Reps: 50 feet
The last exercise in this workout is to run straight for the water and cool off! The ocean is extremely therapeutic for hard-worked muscles. Wade in or at least dip your feet to relax and revel in your accomplishment. Soak up the sun and salty water and offer gratitude for the sweat on your body and connection to the earth.