Elevate Your Summer Fitness

Is there anything more uplifting than a day at the beach? The bright sun, the rhythmic sound of the waves crashing to the shore, and the refreshing breeze instantly dissolve tension. Not only does the sand feel good in between your toes, but it sets the stage for a great beach workout.

Exercising on sand has surprising benefits: It absorbs shock1, adds resistance, and works those often-neglected stability muscles.

And while exercising isn’t the first thing most of us think of when planning a beach day, a beach workout can be fast and efficient, allowing you to jump in the water to cool off—and lounge in the sun right after with a sense of accomplishment.

Whether you’re on a tropical vacation or enjoying the shoreline in the peak of summer, this full-body beach workout hits all of your muscles in a blink—no equipment needed.

Why you should workout at the beach

Nicole Winter, CPT, a certified personal trainer, five-time marathon runner, and Ladder strength training senior coach, tells us why we should get active at the beach.

“When you are on the go and trying to squeeze in a quick workout while you are traveling or on vacation, these types of body weight movements can keep us feeling our best when we don’t necessarily have access to a full gym.”

Even if you could hit the gym, moving your body outside can prevent your routine from getting stale. “Bringing the workout outside can give us a nice change of scenery from our typical routines,” says Winter. “Incorporating some enjoyable but effective movements into a busy travel day or a beautiful summer morning can make a big difference in staying motivated.”

Besides offering a new training environment, the elements have been shown to elevate your mood2—especially when you’re working on your fitness.“Getting it done outside allows you to reap the benefits of being outdoors, such as boosting your energy, getting some sun, and breathing in fresh air,” says Winter.

Plus, exercising on the waterfront has some other physiologic perks. Performing plyometric movements (like jumping) in the sand may improve your endurance and leg strength3 better than doing them on rigid surfaces.

If you’ve ever jogged along the shore, you know it’s harder for your body to move through sand. But it’s also lower impact—which means you can place a higher energy demand on your body without the extra stress on your joints4, according to research.

8-move, 8-minute beach workout

Of course, walking along the beach is a tried-and-true exercise for all folks of all fitness levels. However, if you’re looking to up your beach game, we’ve got the workout for you.

Winter designed the perfect beach workout to get full mind and body benefits. Even better, no equipment is needed: Your body weight will do the trick while doing this routine that blends cardio and strength training. Perform each exercise for 40 seconds with a 20-second rest in between.

All in all, one round should only take 8 minutes. If you’re looking for an extra challenge, perform two or three rounds of the exercises with a 1-minute rest between each round.

1. Prisoner squat

Start by getting those big muscle groups moving. “Prisoner squats target the quads and glutes,” Winter says. “Placing your hands behind your head allows for an extra challenge to lock in the core and bring more focus to the lower body.”

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands behind your head with your elbows pointed out to your sides.
  2. Engage your core and keep your spine neutral.
  3. Push your hips back and bend your knees to squat, keeping your head and chest up.
  4. Keep your heels flat on the floor and your knees lined up with your feet while you lower your body as low as feels comfortable for you.
  5. Come back up and repeat for 40 seconds.

2. Forearm plank

Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to this core movement. “Planks are a classic movement to engage your total body from shoulders and core to glutes and upper back,” Winter says. “Core strength is the base for ALL strength movements, so planks should be a nonnegotiable in your workout routine.”

  1. Kneel and place your forearms on the ground beneath your shoulders. They should be directly in line and your forearms should be parallel.
  2. Extend your legs and balance on your tip toes, lifting your hips off of the ground—level with the rest of your body.
  3. Tighten your core muscles by bringing your belly button to your spine. Maintain neutral neck and spine by focusing on your hands.
  4. Relax your shoulders, making sure they are not inching toward your ears.
  5. Hold for 40 seconds, remembering to breathe throughout the exercise.

3. Glute bridge marches

Want healthy hips and a nice peach? “This is a movement that targets the glutes but can also benefit your core, hip flexors, and hamstrings. This is also great for isolation, stabilizing one leg at a time.”

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Engage your core and press through your heels while you lift your hips off the ground into a glute bridge.
  3. Keeping your hips up, alternate marching your knees to chest.
  4. Perform for 40 seconds.

4. Knee tucks

Slow and controlled is the way to move with this ab-targeting exercise. “This movement is essentially a reverse crunch and is a great core strengthener,” says Winter. “Your abdominal muscles will feel it right away!”

  1. Sit on the ground with your knees bent.
  2. Lean back and plant your elbows and forearms on the ground.
  3. Lift both feet off of the ground while knees remain bent.
  4. Tuck your knees to your chest and move them straight out, so you’re in a V-sit formation.
  5. Repeat for 40 seconds.

5. Knee push-ups

Time to work on that upper body: According to Winter, this push-up variation offers a modified way to build up to a full push-up while building proper form and still strengthening your chest, arms and abs. “Think of using your strength and power from the chest to push up from the ground rather than just your arms,” she says.” (If you can do a push-up with great form, feel free!)

  1. Kneel on the ground and place hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keep your core engaged, making a straight line from your knees to you head.
  3. Lower your chest to the ground by bending at the elbows.
  4. Go down as far as you feel comfortable and come back up.
  5. Repeat for 40 seconds.

6. Jumping lunge-to-squats

When you work the lower body, your heart pumps faster to get blood to your larger muscles. “This is a relatively simple—but not easy—movement with great payoff for your legs and glutes,” says Winter. “Adding the jump is also a nice way to incorporate a cardio burst.”

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and jump your legs into lunge position.
  2. Jump up and land with your other foot in front, in lunge position.
  3. Jump again, landing in a squat.
  4. Be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
  5. Repeat the pattern for 40 seconds.

7. Glute bridge pulses

Glute bridges primarily focus on the glutes, but if you want more muscle engagement, make some tweaks. “You can target your quads by bringing your heels closer to your glutes or target your hamstrings by stepping your feet out further,” says Winter.

  1. Lie down on on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Engage your core muscles by pushing your lower back toward the ground.
  3. Lift your hips to make a line with your body from knees to head.
  4. Slowly lower hips down to the ground and lift again.
  5. Repeat for 40 seconds.

8. Cherry pickers

Finally, you’ll close out with a core exercise. “Another name for a Russian twist, cherry pickers will target your abs and your obliques.

  1. Sit on the ground.
  2. Lean backward, keeping your back straight.
  3. Bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground.
  4. Keeping your chest up, rotate your torso from side to side.
  5. Repeat for 40 seconds.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.

  1. Jafarnezhadgero AA, Fatollahi A, Granacher U. Eight Weeks of Exercising on Sand Has Positive Effects on Biomechanics of Walking and Muscle Activities in Individuals with Pronated Feet: A Randomized Double-Blinded Controlled Trial. Sports (Basel). 2022;10(5):70. Published 2022 May 2. doi:10.3390/sports10050070

  2. Wicks C, Barton J, Orbell S, Andrews L. Psychological benefits of outdoor physical activity in natural versus urban environments: A systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental studies. Appl Psychol Health Well Being. 2022;14(3):1037-1061. doi:10.1111/aphw.12353

  3. Ahmadi M, Nobari H, Ramirez-Campillo R, Pérez-Gómez J, Ribeiro ALA, Martínez-Rodríguez A. Effects of Plyometric Jump Training in Sand or Rigid Surface on Jump-Related Biomechanical Variables and Physical Fitness in Female Volleyball Players. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(24):13093. Published 2021 Dec 11. doi:10.3390/ijerph182413093

  4. Giatsis G, Panoutsakopoulos V, Kollias IA. Drop Jumping on Sand Is Characterized by Lower Power, Higher Rate of Force Development and Larger Knee Joint Range of Motion. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2022;7(1):17. Published 2022 Feb 4. doi:10.3390/jfmk7010017

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