Since summer is in full swing, it’s time to take a tip from Fergie and start working on our fitness!
You don’t need a gym membership to get a rock-star body, so use the warm weather to your advantage with an outdoor workout. We already know you’re going to look great this summer, so here’s another excuse to show off your stylish bikini!
The beach is an awesome place to go for your workout since it will instantly relax you, and you can use the water and sand as resistance as needed. Read on for some of our fave beach-friendly workouts!
Have you ever enjoyed a nice walk along the water at the beach? Relaxing, right? Walking on the beach is a great way to add some quality cardio to your routine. If you prefer to jog or run, you can do that as well and reap the same benefits as walking, but in a shorter amount of time.
Melanie Ludwig, owner of Prestige Fitness in New Hampshire, says that walking or jogging at the beach will benefit you more than doing the same exercises on a treadmill or indoor track.
“Walking, jogging or running with a friend first thing in the morning can keep you making healthy choices all day!” Ludwig says. “The uneven surface of the sand is challenging as your muscles must work harder to compensate for your feet sinking in the sand. You also use more energy, aka burn more calories, due to the surface of the sand.”
You can choose whether or not you want to run barefoot, but we recommend wearing sneakers to support your feet better and protect yourself from any broken seashells or other trash found along the shore.
Whether you run on dry or wet sand is up to you, since you’ll reap the benefits of a beach jog regardless. For new beach joggers, run close to the water near the wet sand, since it’s more solid and easier to power through. For joggers who have done more than one beach run, try dry sand for more resistance. It’s a lot harder to power through dry sand compared to wet sand, so it can leave you feeling worn out very quickly.
Ludwig also notes that the sand “acts as a natural cushion so [there’s] less impact than pounding on pavement or a treadmill,” which is a benefit that we sure won’t complain about.
If you don’t consider yourself a runner or if you’re a total beginner, don’t be too hard on yourself; everyone has to start somewhere! Try to start slowly and then work your way up to your desired pace or distance, since taking baby steps is a lot more manageable than trying to become a marathon runner in one week. There are helpful programs like Couch to 5K that you can try that will allow you to make progress with your running day-by-day.
As if all of these details won’t have you grabbing your sneakers already, Ludwig says people tend to walk or run farther and longer on the beach due to its relaxing nature. The eye candy around you might make you want to keep going, too!
2. Strength training
Cardio isn’t the only type of exercise you can do at the beach! Just as the sand works in your favor during a jog or run, you can use it to your advantage while you strength train as well with push-ups, lunges and squats.
“The sand is a natural resistance, as stated above, but you can also use the same principles with lower-body exercises, such as lunges and squats,” Ludwig says. “The uneven surface has you working harder to keep your balance. Getting into a plank on your elbows and crawling forward, backward and side-to-side adds a new challenge for your core muscles.”
Be sure to pace yourself, though! “These exercises are not as easy as they look, especially in sand, but just remember to keep your core engaged and breathe,” Ludwig says.
Here are a few beach-friendly strength-training exercises (that don’t require any equipment!):
- Lie down with your back pressed against the sand. Keep your arms fully extended with your palms facing down.
- To get into your starting position, lift your legs up so that your heels are about six inches off the ground while slightly bending your knees.
- Lift your left leg up to a 45-degree angle while lowering your right leg until it’s about 2 to 3 inches from the ground.
- Switch and do the same set of movements with your opposite leg.
Single-leg hip extension
- Lie face-up with your arms out to the side and your right knee bent. Your left leg should be straight and raised a few inches from the ground.
- Lift your left leg up until you see that it’s in line with your right thigh, and push your hips upward. This will form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
- Pause, then lower yourself back to start.
- Do your desired amount of reps, then switch your legs and repeat.
- Lie on your back and place your hands on the ground or behind your head.
- Bring your knees in towards your chest until they are bent at a 90-degree angle. You can keep your feet together or crossed.
- Contract your abs to curl your hips off the floor, reaching your legs up towards the ceiling. Lower yourself, then repeat for your desired amount of reps.
- Make sure that you’re using your abs to lift your hips rather than swinging your legs and creating momentum.
If you’re down to do some push-ups on the beach, the uneven terrain will allow your body to be challenged in different ways. For fitness gurus, face the water for your push-ups, since your body will be at a decline, which will provide more of a challenge. For beginners, face away from the water so your body will be at an incline, which is a bit easier.
To make sure you’re staying safe, look around the area where you’ll be doing your push-ups. If it’s filled with broken seashells and unidentifiable objects, place a towel down for added support and protection. An all-clear zone means you can either work out sans towel or with it, depending on what you prefer.
3. Build sand castles
It’s super important to make time for relaxation and fun during the summer. A great way to unwind while working out is building some sand castles.
Yes, you read that right – one of your favorite beach activities from your childhood can be a toning workout for your arms and upper body!
“Filling up buckets of sand is a natural way to lift weights, in a way,” Ludwig says. “All the bending, lifting and carrying water to your project is just as effective as lifting a dumbbell.” Sign us up!
Know that while your inner child is having a field day and you’re showing off your creative side, your body will be reaping the physical benefits as well.
4. Get in the water
A trip to the beach wouldn’t be complete without a dip in the ocean! The sand isn’t the only natural resource you can use to assist with your workout; the water can also be a great workout BFF.
“Just walking in the water adds resistance as you pull your body through it,” Ludwig says. “Try raising your knees for a real challenge!”
When you walk through the water while raising your knees, you’ll be challenging your leg muscles as well, providing strength training that doesn’t even feel like work.
For the sake of safety, Ludwig says to be careful and observant of dangerous water conditions, such as riptides. She also recommends doing this activity with a friend for safety and added fun.
Some of your other fave childhood water activities, like jumping waves and paddleboarding, can benefit your body, too.
“All of these activities use the resistance of the water to keep your muscles challenged,” Ludwig says.
Of course, freestyle swimming is a classic water workout that will engage your entire body. The sunshine and atmosphere of the beach will have you swimming for hours, so the time will pass quickly as you get in a workout at the same time.
5. Get your game on
There are so many fun beach activities that you can do with friends that don’t even feel like workouts!
“Playing beach volleyball, flying a kite or tossing a Frisbee are great ways to enjoy the shore and keep active,” Ludwig says. “If you decide to cool off with a dip in the ocean after, be cautious, as your body might be more fatigued than you realize.”
She also suggests dressing appropriately for whatever exercise you’ll be engaging in. So if you plan on diving like crazy while playing beach volleyball, you might want to rock some cute shorts instead of bikini bottoms.
To get your friends in on a beach game, challenge them to a bet to get them motivated.
“I promised a friend that if she walked with me three days on the beach during a vacation, I would make her a special dinner,” Ludwig says. “Bring some beach toys with you to the beach, too, since it's hard to resist playing catch or tossing [a] Frisbee on a beautiful day!”
Enjoy a quality workout in a beautiful beach environment! Use it to your advantage during your active summer, and you’re sure to see results. Just make sure you pack some healthy summer snacks with you, and don’t forget the sunscreen!