Embrace the Beach, Become an All-Terrain Athlete

The resistance—and softness—of the sand and water will make you more versatile

Create a packed workout on the beach by mixing strength training on land with swimming. (Ihar Ulashchyk/iStock)
Photo: Ihar Ulashchyk/iStock fitness

The combination of sand and water is the summer invitation to rest, recover, and recharge with the drink, book, and funky hat of your choice. But between the sand and the waves, it’s also an invitation to challenge your body in one of nature’s very best workout environments. 

“When you’re running in sand, you have to work a lot harder, but you’re not having the impact you have on the road. And it’s just freaking fun,” says Robyn Benincasa, adventure racer, 10-time Ironman and world-record paddler who does beach boot camps as part of her training. 

Whether you’re up earlier than the rest of your vacation crew, or just want to involve everyone in a sandy sweat session, you can use the randomness of the beach terrain to help develop leg strength and endurance, not to mention give your core and stabilizer muscles one heck of a challenge. This sandy cardio-based workout with 6 stations will prep you for challenges in any environment, be it by sea, dirt, mud, rock, or road.
Warm-up: 5 minute light run on sand and/or 5 minute swim

Station 1

Run: Hard-packed sand, 3 minutes
Four-count pushups: Take 2-counts to lower yourself, then 2 counts to push yourself up. Do 10.
Plank on shoreline in wet sand: 30 seconds on one foot, 30 seconds on both
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Station 2

Run: Deep sand, 5 minutes
Alternating lunges in ankle-deep water, 12 on each side
Bicycle kicks, 2 sets of 30 seconds (lay on your back with hands beneath the small of your back and do bicycle motion with your legs)
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Station 3

Swim: 3 minutes
Army crawl, 2 sets of 30 seconds (crawl through sand using only your elbows)
Sideways lunge in deep sand, 12 each side (perform lunge but instead of stepping forward, step to the side)
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Station 4

Run: Shallow water, 3 minutes
Bodyweight squats in knee-deep water, 20 total
Decline pushups, 14 (if there’s a natural incline at the shoreline, place feet away from the water, hands toward the water)
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Station 5

Run: Knee-deep water, 1 minute
Bear crawl, 2 sets of 30 seconds
12 Plyometric jumps in sand (jump as high as you can, taking off and landing on both feet)
Rest for 1-2 minutes

Station 6

Swim: 3 minutes
Hopscotch, 2 sets of 30 seconds (in imaginary hopscotch course, alternate single-leg and two-leg hops in deep sand)
Pushups, max number you can eek out, in wet sand
Rest for 1-2 minutes

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