Ready to shake up your workout? Hit the beach.
With a beach workout, you’ll have plenty of space, and the various surfaces provide new levels of intensity, says Chris Gagliardi, C.S.C.S., scientific education content manager at the American Council on Exercise.
Beach workouts offer soft and compacted sand, plus water for natural resistance.
“A beach workout can make even standard gym moves like squats, jumping jacks, and lunges feel very different and challenging in fresh ways,” he says.
Although soft surfaces make landings easier on joints, sand is uneven ground, so he suggests slowing down and moving mindfully.
Also, opt for a longer warm-up, focusing on ankle mobility.
Not sure where to start?
The following five moves can help level up any sun-and-sand sweat session — no equipment necessary.
(Pro tip: Don’t forget to wear sunscreen whenever you hit the beach!)
1. Bear Crawls
Speeding through these bear crawls (like you can in the gym) isn’t possible on sand, Gagliardi says.
For starters, your hands will sink into the sand, increasing the challenge for your arms and shoulders.
Your core will also have to work extra hard to keep you stabilized.
- Get down on all fours with your arms straight, your hands below your shoulders, and your knees bent 90 degrees below your hips. Only your hands and toes should touch the sand.
- Keeping your back flat and core engaged, crawl forward and backward moving opposite hands and feet in unison (right hand and left foot, left hand and right foot).
- Repeat as desired.
Stand in shallow water and come down into an inchworm onto the wet sand.
The combo of shifting sand and water pulling you back creates a new type of resistance compared to doing the move indoors.
Bonus move: Add a push-up before coming back up!
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
- Keeping your core engaged and back flat, hinge forward at your hips and place both palms onto the sand. Bend your knees slightly if necessary.
- Walk your hands forward until you assume a high-plank position with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your body straight from head to heels.
- Reverse the movement to return to the starting (standing) position.
3. Tree Pose
Even if you’re a yoga balance master, staying stable on one leg on any kind of soft surface (including sand) will be more intense, Gagliardi says.
Your core and glutes will have to work overtime to keep you steady — especially if you’re also fighting against waves.
- Stand on dry sand or in the water with your palms together in front of your chest.
- Shift your weight onto your left foot and raise your right knee.
- Swing your right knee to the right, placing the sole of your right foot against the inside of your left calf. Or use your hand to get it onto your left thigh.
- Keep your left leg strong and straight as you look toward the horizon to help you balance. Make sure not to lock your left knee.
- Once you’re stable, bring your hands to your heart, overhead, or out to your sides.
- Hold this pose for at least five breaths, and then repeat on your other side.
4. Broad Jumps
When doing these jumps in a gym or even on grass, concern about landing hard might cause you to exert less effort, says Denver-based personal trainer Kourtney Thomas, C.S.C.S.
Often, knowing you’ll have a softer landing — and that you’ve warmed up your ankles ahead of time — can mentally prepare you to do a bigger jump.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms overhead.
- Swing your arms down behind your body as you bend your knees and push your hips back.
- Swing your arms in front of you as you drive through your feet, thrust your hips, and jump forward.
- Land softly and repeat.
5. Skater Hops
Compared with doing these in a gym, you’ll need to work harder to propel yourself from side to side, but you’ll also get a softer landing, Thomas says.
And if you really want to make a splash — and increase the fun factor — do it in the water.
- From a standing position, shift your weight onto your left leg, bending your left knee to lower your hips a few inches while lifting your right foot.
- Spring to your right by pushing off with your left leg.
- Land softly on your right leg, letting your left leg cross behind you as your arms swing to the right.
- Pause, and then propel yourself to the left, pushing off with your right leg and allowing it to cross behind you as you land softly on your left leg, swinging your arms to the left.
- Continue jumping back and forth.
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