It’s hard to stay away from the beach in the summer, especially if you live close to the coast. It’s natural to want to spend as much time outdoors as possible, and to soak up the sun and the season’s warmth.
And unless it’s necessary to exercise indoors or at the gym, there’s no reason to deprive yourself of training days out in the sun. (Even if it's hailing outside, hacking it through nasty weather builds character!) What’s more, there are several kinds of workouts and exercises that you can do outside of the gym — particularly on the beach and in the squishy grainy sand. So, when the sun is shining, you don’t need to choose between smashing a workout and staying outdoors.
What Are the Benefits of Beach Workouts?
You can perform HIIT workouts, obstacle course training, running, and sprinting on the sand, where exposure to fresh air and the outdoors may even improve your mood and boost your workout performance, too.
As anyone who's ran on sand before can tell you, beach workouts also add resistance to make your workout more challenging. Bare feet sink into the sand and feel heavier, where they’re rooted more firmly into the ground and require more effort to break free and be propelled forward.
“Beach workouts also provide variation to your training regimen as well as refreshing cool-downs, where a dip in the ocean can quickly remove sweat,” John Shackleton, MS, CSCS, Villanova Men’s Basketball Head Performance Coach, says. “Variation is a key training variable that must be manipulated in order to provide a new stimulus.
"This way, the body can adapt and become stronger and better conditioned, plus it also can help psychologically, as a way to enhance drive and desire to train."
Taking your workout to the beach breaks up the monotony of training and provides a sense of novelty and added challenge. For an effective beach workout that’ll help you optimize your performance and training efforts, try these effective HIIT exercises during your next beach workout (and avoid these others).
The Best HIIT Exercises to Do During a Beach Workout
Alternating Split Squat Jumps
“If you’re trying to prepare for the 2022 Abu Dhabi Spartan World Championship, it’s good to add in some alternating split squats into your training program," Shackleton says. "The exercise builds both explosiveness and stamina, which will be necessary for the sprinting component of this race."
How to Do Alternating Split Squat Jumps:
- Start in a 90/90 position with one foot out front and your knee bent at a 90-degree angle, with the back leg knee bent at 90 degrees, as well.
- Drive your front foot through the ground to explode up into the air.
- While in the air, cycle your legs to land with the opposite leg in front of you and with a 90/90 knee bend for correct form.
Classic Squat Jumps
You can also do classic squat jumps for a great HIIT beach workout. Squat jumps on sand get your heart rate up and add resistance, and you drive power from your lower body to lift yourself up from off the sand, build strength, and blast calories all at once.
How to Do Squat Jumps:
- Begin in a squat position with your feet hip width apart and knees bent at 90 degrees, with hips inline with the knees.
- Swing your arms up and through the air as you take off the ground.
- Bring your hips through extension to a “jump.”
- Gently land and then take off again and jump for the prescribed time or reps total.
Push-Ups With Alternating Knee Drive
“Push ups with alternating knee drives are another great HIIT workout to incorporate into your training regimen, as this exercise builds the upper-body and core strength that’s needed to navigate through obstacles, such as the Monkey Bars, Sandbag Carry, or Rope Climb,” the strength and conditioning coach says.
How to Do Push-Ups With Alternating Knee Drives:
- Perform a basic push-up by going all the way down, with your chest hitting the floor.
- As you come up, drive one knee to your chest.
- Alternate knees with each rep.
HIIT Exercises to Avoid Doing During a Beach Workout
“Without sufficient strength or practice, this exercise puts a lot of stress on your joints and can lead to injury,” Shackleton says.
The clap can be difficult to perform in sync and while maintaining exercise correct form, and the inability to maintain proper form and synchronicity can lead to injury and pain.
“The safer exercise would be a push-up with shoulder tap,” he recommends, as there’s more stability in place.
The kipping pull-up is a full-body movement designed for CrossFit trainers and athletes to execute more pull-ups in less time,” he says.
However, it can lead to injury.
“This pull-up method, if done improperly, is bad for your shoulders, due to the uncontrolled nature of the exercise when done too quickly,” he says.
Instead, try performing strict pull-ups if you can find a makeshift pull-up bar at the beach, working full range of motion. You'll still get a full-body workout and burn those arms and core muscles, while protecting your shoulders, too.