If you’ve traveled to a beach and thought about running in the sand, you’re not the only one. Training in the sand provides several benefits, including an increased heart rate and VO2max with less stress on the knees compared to a harder surface like wood or pavement. Now, there’s more to working out at the beach than running in the sand—although it is definitely more beneficial than running on grass or pavement. Due to its soft nature, sand is also a safer alternative than wood or pavement for plyometrics training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.
Aaptiv’s outdoor running workouts can be performed on sand, providing you with dozens of effective summer training sessions at the ready. Before we get into three awesome bodyweight sand workouts, here’s why sand training can be a useful part of any fitness enthusiast’s routine.
Benefits of Beach Workouts
If you live by the beach (for the summer at least) you may want to start doing beach workouts consistently. According to a Journal of Sports Sciences study, training on sand twice per week for eight weeks provides a harder workout compared to grass. In this small study, female athletes trained using sprints, speed/agility drills, and other sport-specific training either on sand or grass for eight weeks during the preseason. Athletes who trained on sand had higher average heart rate, VO2max, blood lactate (a biomarker for muscular fatigue), and rating of perceived exertion compared to those who trained on grass. Therefore, if you’ve reached a plateau in your aerobic fitness or you’re training for an endurance event, you may want to try sand workouts.
Another small study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that even just one interval training session in the sand provides better results than training on grass. The study subjects familiarized themselves with sand training for a month before doing either a grass or a HIIT sand workout. The sand trainees had 1.1 times higher heart rate and increased blood lactate levels. Furthermore, the study had people run three kilometers on pavement 24 hours after each workout to see which surface would be cause subsequent fatigue. Turns out the people who did a sand HIIT workout ran faster on pavement the next day, as compared to those who ran on grass. So, not only is sand running a harder workout, but it doesn’t cause any more muscle damage since overall delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) was similar post-workout in both groups.
Try these three full-body HIIT workouts to break a sweat on the beach:
Workout One: Lower Body Blast
Directions: Perform the following exercises for as many reps as possible in 40 seconds, resting 20 seconds between each exercise. Complete for three rounds. Rest one minute and 40 seconds between rounds.
Exercise: Squat to Tiptoe
How to Do It: Do a squat and then on the way up do a calf raise so that you’re on the balls of your feet. Squeeze at the top. That’s one rep.
Exercise: Forward and Backward Hop
How to Do It: Get into a squat with knees bent at 90 degrees. Hop forward, landing softly. Hop backward, while still in a squat stance. Repeat.
Exercise: Forward/Backward/Side Lunge
How to Do It: In round one, do alternating forward lunges. In round two, do alternating backward lunges. In round three, do alternating side lunges.
How to Do It: Get into an athletic stance with knees slightly bent. Run five yards forward then stop. Side shuffle sideways five yards to the right (don’t cross your feet) then stop. Shuffle ten yards to the left, stop, then shuffle five yards to the right. Quickly backpedal five yards to where you started the drill. Repeat.
How to Do It: Get into a very low squat to the point where you can touch the sand with both fingertips. Begin by pushing off your hands and swiping into the sand as you bring your legs forward. Both hands swipe at the sand followed by both legs landing forward and at the side of both hands. You may also know this as a frog hop or gorilla hop.
Workout Two: Abs Only
Directions: Do three rounds of this core training circuit.
How to Do It: Lie on your back with feet together and arms extended overhead. This is the starting position. Simultaneously reach both arms toward both feet as you raise both legs towards the sky. Your feet should meet your fingers above your torso, making a “V” shape. That’s one rep.
Exercise: Side Plank With Rotation
How to Do It: Get into side plank position with one elbow on the ground and both feet stacked on top of one another. With the free hand, swipe under your body then rotate the arm toward the sky until it’s fully straight. That’s one rep on one side.
Reps: Ten each side (20 total)
Exercise: Wide Mountain Climbers
How to Do It: Get into a push-up position with toes pointed into the sand about six inches apart. Bring your right foot to the outside of your right hand so that the heel touches the sand (this requires good flexibility). Return the right foot back to the middle. While keeping your core tight and hips in a straight line, bring the left foot to the outside of the left hand so that the heel touches the sand. Return left foot back to center. That’s one rep each side.
Reps: Ten each side (20 total)
Exercise: Abdominal Twist
How to Do It: Sit on the sand with knees bent. Pretend like you’re holding a ball or weight. Use a weight if you have one, of course. Twist towards the right, placing your hands (or the weight) into the sand next to your hip. Now twist towards the left, placing your hands in the sand next to your other hip. That’s one rep each side. You can make this harder by keeping the legs off the ground and in a straight line.
Reps: Ten each side
Workout Three: Endurance Workout
Directions: Do four rounds of this simple, yet challenging beach workout, resting as needed between each exercise. Rest no more than three minutes between rounds.
Exercise: 0.25 mile run
How to Do It: Begin this workout with a quarter mile run.
How to Do It: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Bend down and place your palms on the floor while keeping a straight back. Then, quickly kick both legs behind so that you end up in the top of a push-up position. Jump your legs back up so that they land between your hands. Stand up quickly and jump so that both heels are off of the ground. That’s one rep.
How to Do It: Lie on your back with knees bent at 90 degrees. Place hands behind ears (but don’t crank on your neck). Bring your torso off the ground and forward until elbows touch the knees. Return back to the ground without slamming your back or head into the ground. That’s one rep.
Exercise: Bear Push-ups
How to Do It: Start on all fours with knees and palms touching the sand and wrist stacked under shoulders. Now, remove knees so that they’re one to two inches off the sand, yet still bent. This is the starting position. While keeping a straight back, bend both elbows until your knees tap the sand. Make sure that elbows are tight to your body. Straighten arms again and return to the bear position.
Exercise: Tuck Jumps
How to Do It: Stand with feet hip width apart with knees slightly bent and arms extended straight out in front of you. Jump both feet straight off the sand until knees touch the palms of your outstretched hands. Land softly. That’s one rep.