Eat, drink, play, and watch the sunset. These top the list for most when they think about a day at the beach. Thinking of that, have you ever considered using the sandy shores as your personal gym? With the sound of waves crashing, the feel of sand beneath your feet, and the sight of the endless horizon, it’s a sensory experience that no indoor gym can replicate. As a plus, there’s the added resistance from moving on the sand, meaning you can use beach workouts to build muscle. In this article we’re going to explore eight beach exercises that will give you a full body workout, helping you build strength, endurance, and flexibility while you soak up the sun and sea air. Whether you’re needing a partner beach workout, or a beach workout program that you can tweak to your own level, read on for some inspiration.
What Is Beach Body Fitness?
Beach body fitness is a type of training program that focuses on combining strength, endurance, and flexibility exercises while outdoors.
It’s designed to give you a full body workout while also taking advantage of the natural beauty of your surroundings. The sand, sea air and endorphin-inducing ocean waves all add up to create an ideal environment for a workout.
The effectiveness of beach workouts has been well documented, at least based on anecdotal reports from expert trainers, and there’s also scientific evidence to support the claims.
Studies into beach running, for example, confirm what we have already experienced, that it requires significantly more muscular effort than running on a flat surface (2). This means that the resistance from the sand provides an extra challenge to your muscles, encouraging greater strength gains.
This is proof that working out on the beach isn’t just about enjoying the beautiful scenery; it also presents some distinct physical challenges that can enhance your workout routine. Here are some specific benefits you stand to gain:
The unstable and shifting nature of sand provides added resistance compared to hard surfaces. This makes your muscles work harder during exercises, resulting in increased strength and endurance.
Improved Balance And Stability
The uneven surface of the beach challenges your balance and stability, engaging your core and smaller stabilizing muscles which are often neglected in regular gym workouts.
Sand is softer and more forgiving than concrete, reducing the impact on your joints during high-intensity activities such as running or jumping. This makes beach workouts a good option for people with joint concerns.
Burns More Calories
Studies have shown that you can burn up to 30% more calories during a beach workout, compared to a similar workout performed on a hard surface (2).
Enhances Mental Well-Being
The serene environment of the beach can help reduce stress, improve mood, and promote a sense of well-being (1).
What Muscles Are Best For Beach?
Most of the major muscle groups can be targeted with beach workouts, but there are certain areas of the body that benefit more than others. Below are the top muscle groups you should focus on when designing your beach workout program:
- Abs: Core workouts such as planks, shoulder tap planks, or hanging leg raises can help strengthen your abs and overall core stability.
- Legs: Exercises like sprints, squat jumps, walking lunges, and Bulgarian split squats can target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The sand’s resistance can make these exercises even more effective.
- Shoulders and Arms: Push-ups, dips, bear crawls, and bench presses (or any horizontal pushing exercise) can work your biceps, triceps, and shoulders.
- Back: Exercises like the dumbbell row or pull-ups can help build your back muscles.
- Full Body: Many beach exercises, like skaters, medicine ball slams, or crab toe touches, work multiple muscle groups at once, providing an effective full-body workout.
What Exercise I Can Do On The Beach?
Here’s a comprehensive list of eight beach exercises that provide a full-body workout:
Beach Sprints (Lower Body, Cardiovascular)
- Start by marking two points in the sand about 40-50 meters apart.
- Sprint from one point to the other, then walk back to the start. The sand will add resistance, making the sprint more challenging.
This exercise works the lower body muscles and improves cardiovascular fitness.
- Beginners: 3 sets of 5 sprints
- Intermediate/Advanced: 5 sets of 10 sprints
Sand Push-Ups (Chest, Arms, Core)
- Assume a standard push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart in the sand.
- Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the sand, then push back up.
The instability of the sand will engage your core more than a regular push-up.
Beginners: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
Intermediate/Advanced: 4 sets of 15-20 reps
Ocean Squats (Lower Body)
- Stand in waist-deep water with your feet hip-width apart.
- Squat down as if sitting in a chair, keeping your knees over your ankles, then push back up.
The water provides resistance, especially when you move quickly.
Beginners: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Intermediate/Advanced: 4 sets of 20-25 reps
Resistance Band Rows (Back, Arms)
- Wrap a resistance band around a sturdy object like a beach umbrella at chest height.
- Hold one end in each hand, step back until the band is taut, then pull the ends towards your chest.
This exercise targets the back and arms.
Beginners: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Intermediate/Advanced: 4 sets of 15-20 reps
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Beach Burpees (Full Body)
- From a standing position, drop into a squat, and place your hands on the sand.
- Now kick back into a plank, do a push-up, jump your feet back to your hands, then jump up and clap your hands above your head.
This is a full-body exercise that also gets your heart rate up.
Beginners: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
Intermediate/Advanced: 4 sets of 10-15 reps
Dumbbell Walking Lunges (Lower Body, Core)
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, take a step forward with your right foot and lower your body until your right knee is at a 90-degree angle.
- Push back up and bring your left foot forward to repeat the movement.
Walking lunges work your lower body and core.
Beginners: 3 sets of 10 lunges each leg
Intermediate/Advanced: 4 sets of 15 lunges each leg
Swimming (Full Body, Cardiovascular)
- Swim parallel to the shore in waist or chest-deep water.
- Try different strokes to engage different muscle groups.
Swimming is an excellent low-impact, full-body exercise that also improves cardiovascular fitness.
Beginners: Swim for 10-15 minutes
Intermediate/Advanced: Swim for 20-30 minutes
Sand Plank (Core, Arms)
- Assume a plank position in the sand. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
- Engage your core and hold the position.
Planks primarily work the core, but also engage the arms and shoulders.
Beginners: 3 sets of 20-30 second holds
Intermediate/Advanced: 3 sets of 45-60 second holds
How To Create A Beach Workout Program?
Creating a beach workout program is an exciting way to mix up your fitness routine and take advantage of the natural terrain and beauty of the beach. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create one:
Identify Your Fitness Goals
Are you looking to build strength, improve cardio, lose weight, or just stay active? Your goals will determine the type of exercises you incorporate into your workout program.
For example, beach exercises to lose weight are different from exercises to improve strength. Beach exercises for beginners may also vary from those for advanced individuals.
Choose Your Exercises
Based on your goals, choose a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups. Consider exercises like beach sprints, sand push-ups, ocean squats, beach burpees, and swimming.
If you have access to equipment, you can also include exercises like resistance band rows or dumbbell walking lunges.
Plan Your Workout Structure
Decide how you’ll structure your workout.
You could do a circuit workout (doing one set of each exercise with minimal rest in between, then repeating the circuit), a HIIT workout (alternating between high-intensity exercises and rest), or a traditional workout (completing all sets of one exercise before moving on to the next).
Decide On Sets And Reps
The number of sets and reps for each exercise will depend on your fitness level and goals. A good starting point would be 3 sets of 10-15 reps for strength exercises and 20-30 minutes for cardio exercises like swimming or beach sprints.
Schedule Your Workouts
Plan when you’ll do your beach workouts. Aim for at least three times a week for a balanced fitness routine. Remember to include rest days to allow your body to recover.
Prepare For Your Workout
Pack everything you’ll need for your workout, including water, sunscreen, a towel, and any equipment you plan to use. Dress in workout clothes that are suitable for the beach and the weather.
Warm-Up And Cool Down
Always start your workout with a warm-up to prepare your muscles for exercise and prevent injury. This could be a brisk walk or light jog on the beach. After your workout, cool down with light stretching or yoga.
Stay Safe And Listen To Your Body
Take precautions to stay safe during your beach workout. Stay hydrated, wear sun protection, and be mindful of your surroundings. Listen to your body and modify or stop exercises if you feel pain.
How Can I Lose Weight On The Beach?
You can lose weight on the beach by doing beach exercises that are specifically designed to burn fat. Combined with the right diet, beach workouts will help you lose weight in a healthy and effective manner.
Here are some ways you can achieve this:
- Beach Walks or Runs: The resistance provided by sand makes these activities more challenging than their counterparts on hard surfaces, helping you burn more calories.
- Swimming: Swimming in the ocean is a full-body workout that improves cardiovascular health and tones muscles. It’s also a great way to stay cool while exercising.
- Beach Sports: Games like beach volleyball, frisbee, or soccer can burn a significant amount of calories while providing a fun group activity.
- Yoga or Pilates: These practices can be done on the beach to enhance balance, flexibility, and strength. They can also help reduce stress, which is beneficial for weight loss.
- Cycling or Rollerblading: If there’s a boardwalk or paved path, these activities are great for cardiovascular health and can help with weight loss.
- Eat Healthily: Pack nutritious snacks like fruits, vegetables, and protein bars to avoid the temptation of less healthy beach food options. Stay hydrated with water instead of sugary drinks.
- Stay Active: Even simple activities like building a sandcastle, collecting seashells, or exploring the coastline can keep you moving and help burn calories.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Burn Calories On The Beach?
Burning calories on the beach is an exciting, fun-filled experience that combines the benefits of a natural environment with physical exertion.
The key to burning calories at the beach lies in increasing your heart rate and engaging multiple muscle groups, which can be achieved through activities like swimming or beach volleyball.
When you swim, for instance, almost all your body muscles are put into action, leading to significant calorie burn. Similarly, beach volleyball involves constant movement, jumping, and stretching, which helps burn calories while providing a full-body workout.
How Can I Be Active At The Beach?
Being active at the beach involves more than just lying in the sun or taking leisurely walks. To increase your activity levels, incorporate exercises or games that require physical exertion. For example, you could play frisbee, soccer, or tag with friends or family.
Alternatively, building sandcastles or digging holes can be surprisingly demanding physically. If you prefer solitary activities, consider paddleboarding, surfing, or yoga. Each of these activities requires balance and engages your core, helping you stay active while enjoying the beach.
What Are Some Fat Burning Exercises At The Beach?
Fat burning exercises at the beach generally involve high-intensity movements or resistance training.
An example of such an exercise is beach sprints: the unstable, shifting sand adds resistance to your sprint, making your muscles work harder and burn more fat. Ocean squats, another great fat-burning exercise, use the resistance of the water to work your lower body muscles.
Finally, consider adding burpees to your beach workout routine. They’re a high-intensity, full-body exercise that can significantly increase your heart rate, leading to higher fat burn.
The Bottom Line
Beach workouts provide a unique combination of resistance, scenery, and fun that can’t be matched in a gym.
With exercises like beach sprints, sand push-ups, ocean squats, resistance band rows, beach burpees, dumbbell walking lunges, swimming, and sand planks, you can achieve a full-body workout that targets every major muscle group.
With this in mind, grab your sunscreen and water bottle, and hit the beach for a refreshing change to your regular fitness routine.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Mental Health Benefits of the Beach (2021, webmd.org)
- The energy cost of running on grass compared to soft dry beach sand (2001, sciencedirect.com)