When it comes to exercise, most people are automatically drawn to gyms. This makes a lot of sense, given that gyms are usually packed with all the equipment you need to get fit, lose weight, tone up, build muscle, or get stronger. Where else would you find such a wide selection of workout gear?
Working out in a gym makes training easy – not in terms of the effort required, but for exercise selection. Close your eyes and spin around, and you’ll invariably find a couple of things that will help you achieve your personal fitness goals.
However, all this convenience comes at a price. Joining a gym costs money, and you’ll have to fit your workout around the gym opening times. If you can only go during peak hours, you may also find yourself queuing to use the equipment you want. Unless your gym is on your journey to or from work, you will probably have to spend extra time traveling to and from it for your workouts.
The good news is that you don’t have to go to a gym to get in great shape. You can work out at home, go for a run or bike ride around your neighborhood, or go to your local park. Beach workouts are another option.
In this article, we explore the benefits and drawbacks of training on the beach and provide you with a sample workout to try.
Benefits of Beach Workouts
While there is nothing wrong with working out in a gym, beach training could be more enjoyable and offers a number of advantages and benefits. The main benefits of beach workouts are:
Availability – unlike most gyms, beaches are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Because of this, if you work out on a beach, you can do it any time that suits you.
Cost – you can work at the beach for free. You could buy some workout equipment to use at the beach, such as resistance bands, adjustable dumbbells, or exercise mats, but you could also use just your body weight and work out without spending a dime.
Space – most beaches have more than enough space to cater to hundreds of people, so you should have no problem finding all the space you need for your workout.
Also, with room to run, you’ll be able to mix cardio with conditioning exercises for the ultimate fat-burning workout.
Fresh air and sunshine – training in a gym invariably means conditioned, recycled air and artificial lighting. Exercising outside is much more invigorating and, given the potential for germs and bugs inside, it’s probably healthier too.
Plus, sunshine is good for things like vitamin D production, skin health, bone density, and testosterone production.
Access to water – you can use the sea as part of your workout or just for relaxing and cooling down afterward. Immersion in cold water can help speed up the recovery process and decrease post-exercise aches and pains. Deepwater running is an excellent cardio workout.
Increased ankle and knee strength and stability – exercising on sand is good for your balance and joint stability. The sand shifts as you move, increasing the activation of your small stabilizer muscles. Increased joint stability will reduce your risk of injuries, especially things like sprained ankles. If you work out barefooted, your feet will get stronger, too.
Drawbacks of Beach Workouts
Before you give up your gym membership and decamp to the beach, we also need to acknowledge a few disadvantages to working out down by the shore…
Sand! – unsurprisingly, there is a lot of sand at the beach, and it will get everywhere. Doing push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, etc., will invariably mean that you end up covered in sand.
The sweatier you get, the more of an issue this becomes. Get used to being sandy if you work out at the beach.
Changeable weather – if you train all year round, expect to deal with every conceivable type of weather, from intense sunshine to rain to strong winds. You can’t be a fair-weather exerciser when the beach is your gym.
Also, you’ll need to take care if you exercise when the sun is beating down; you could end up with sunburn, increasing your risk of premature aging and skin cancer.
Lack of equipment – unless your beach has outdoor workout stations like pull-up or dip bars, your workouts will be limited to bodyweight exercises and whatever equipment you take with you.
If you like to use lots of different types of workout equipment, you may find beach workouts somewhat restrictive.
Hard to train for strength or muscle size – while bodyweight exercises are great for fitness, endurance, and fat burning, they’re not so useful for building muscle strength or size. Unless you’re at Muscle Beach, you probably won’t be able to do bodybuilding or powerlifting workouts.
Hidden dangers – the sand can hide all sorts of hazards, from rocks to broken bottles to driftwood. All of these things could cause serious injury if, running barefoot, you inadvertently stand on something hard or sharp. Minimize this risk by taking a moment to check for dangers before starting your workout.
Sample 30 Minute Beach Workout
Not sure where to start with beach workouts? Give this 30-minute AMRAP workout, which is short for As Many Rounds as Possible. Just set a timer for 30 minutes and repeat the following five exercise sequence as many times as you can in the allotted time.
Precede your workout with 5-10 minutes of easy jogging, followed by a few dynamic mobility and flexibility exercises. Finish the workout with another short jog and some static stretches for the muscles you’ve just worked.
Place five markers out in a line, five meters apart, i.e.,
Each marker is an exercise station. Simply do each exercise in turn, walking or jogging between each one.
- Hand-release push-ups x 10
- Prisoner squats x 15
- Hill climbers x 20 (ten per leg)
- Crunches x 25
- Walking lunges back to the beginning
Make this workout easier by doing fewer reps or reducing the length of the workout to 25 or 20 minutes.
Get the most from this workout by doing each exercise correctly. Good form keeps the tension on the target muscles while minimizing your risk of injury.
Hand-release push-ups – squat down and put your hands flat on the ground. Walk your feet out and back until your body is straight. Bend your arms and lower your chest to the floor.
Lift your hands off the ground. Place them back down and push yourself back up. That’s one rep; keep going! You can also do this exercise on your knees for an easier workout.
Prisoner squats – clasp your hands behind your head and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Push your elbows back to open up your chest. Bend your legs and squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor.
Stand back up and repeat. Take care not to round your lower back.
Hill climbers – squat down and put your hands flat on the ground. Walk your feet out until your body is straight.
Bend one leg and pull your knee up and into your chest. Drive it back and simultaneously pull your other knee up and in. Keep switching legs until you have completed all the prescribed reps.
Crunches – lie on your back with your legs bent and feet off the floor. Place your hands on your temples.
Lift your head and shoulders up and touch your elbows to your knees. Lie back down and repeat. Avoid neck pain or injuries by not pulling on your head.
Walking lunges – stand with your feet together and your arms by your sides. Take a large step forward, bend your legs, and lower your rearmost knee to the floor.
Push off your back leg and step through into another rep. Keep going until you get back to the start point.
While the beach may not be the best place for bodybuilding or weightlifting workouts, it’s an excellent venue for fitness, fat loss, and conditioning training.
Exercising outside instead of in an air-conditioned home gym offers many benefits, including exposure to the sun and an endless supply of fresh air and space. You can also have a swim as part of your workout or to cool down afterward, and it won’t cost you a dime.
On the downside, you’ll need to accept that some days the weather will be against you, and you may have to contend with rain, strong winds, or the hot sun. And then there’s the sand; it’s going to get EVERYWHERE!
However, providing your workouts meet your fitness goals, beach training can be every bit as productive as working out in a gym, and, for some people, it’s actually more rewarding. Try it; you might like it.