It’s likely most people in the world when asked whether they’d prefer working out on the beach or in the gym … they’ll choose the beach.
Sun, sand, a quick dip afterward. What’s not to love?
Before we get into an awesome and quick total bodyweight beach workout, I want to highlight several reasons hitting the shore will benefit your health at deeper levels than you can even imagine.
Functional Movement: Why It Matters
Obviously, working out on the beach is enjoyable – but, it turns out your body and gains may love it even more than you do.
When we do bodyweight workouts filled with what are referred to as functional movements, we engage in ancient movement patterns that work our entire body. In this way, we strengthen parts of our body that are typically neglected when we do isolated lifts with weights, like dumbbell curls.
Functional training also mimics real-life movements that can improve your ability to do simple things like move heavy furniture or carry groceries without pulling a muscle or injuring your back, and also greatly improve sport-specific movements that require full-body strength. For instance, MMA and jiu-jitsu require plenty of rotation, full-body power output, and core strength; if we just focused on building, say, glutes during training using isolated band exercises, it’s unlikely we’d get as much power out of a kick as we would if we strengthened our entire core and entire lower body through jump squats, planks, burpees, etc…
Not to mention, when you perform most movement inside and out of the gym or ring, you’re using many groups of muscles at once. When you throw an efficient punch, the movement starts at your hips, rotates upward through your core muscles, then finally explodes through your shoulder and into your fist.
Getting outside and using your bodyweight for full-body movements (especially on uneven ground like sand) engages your core to improve balance and stability in all movements, while also building strength. Tiny stabilizer muscles work beside our larger muscle groups in order to keep them and your skeleton in proper alignment, and these are heavily worked with functional movements, helping to prevent injury.
Bodyweight Beach Workout
This bodyweight beach workout takes functional movement to the sand, giving your stability muscles and core an extra layer of work due to the uneven nature of the sand. You’ll also get a nice dose of vitamin D on a sunny morning, which can help boost testosterone levels (aka boost gains) and set your mood high for the day. [*]
You can structure these moves any way you like, but I find I get the most results doing a HIIT-style compilation. For example: move through one movement for 30-45 seconds, rest 10-15 seconds, move to the next movement for 30-45 seconds, and so on. Then, repeat the circuit 3-4 more times, resting 60 seconds between circuits.
Let’s get it.
1. Touch the Sky’s
Touch the Sky’s are excellent for working your upper body, back, and core. With the rotation, you also get a heavy hit on your obliques.
Begin with one leg forward in a deep lunge. Plant your opposite hand in the sand, the stretch your chest up toward the sky. Keep your abs engaged as you rotate down and move your hand through the space between your arm and your leg. Repeat for 10-15 reps, or for time.
2. Rotating Knee Taps
Rotating knee taps are excellent for building core strength, and also for hip mobility. Mobile hips are important to prevent injury and allow you to move through full rotations and lift heavier.
Begin sitting with your legs in from of you, knees bent. Keep your hands in the air as you move your knees up and over, side to side. Repeat for 10-15 reps or for time.
3. Shoulder Tap – Tiger Bend Pushup
These shoulder taps and pushups workout your entire body from head to toe. Be sure to keep your spine straight and abs engaged the entire time.
Begin in the pushup position. Lower into a tricep pushup, slide slightly forward in the lowered position, then backward, then pushup. Tap each shoulder once, then repeat for as many times as you’re able.
4. Squat to Sky Reach
This isometric squat exercise puts the pressure on your legs to help build those quads and hams, while also promoting muscle endurance.
Begin by lowering into a deep squat, feet slightly turned out. As you reach one hand toward the sand for stability, reach the other toward the sky, rotating through your core and looking up. Repeat for 10-15 reps, or for time.
5. Archer Leg Reach
The archer leg reach is going to have your entire body burning, and also adds in some hips mobility by stretching out tight hips.
Begin in a pushup position. Pushover to one side, allowing your opposite arm to stretch out fully as you lower to the ground. Once you hit the ground, roll your leg over and across your body from the back. Push up, then repeat for 10-15 reps or for time.
6. Sitting High Reaches
Sitting high reaches are excellent to do before your Touch the Sky’s, or even at the end of any flow. They encourage upper body and core mobility, and gently warm-up or cool down your body.
Sit on bent knee, back straight. Reach up with your arms, then exhale as you bring them in front of you and down. Repeat this motion for 10-15 reps or for time.
7. Beast Loaded Pushup
This one is called beast for a reason: it not only pushes your upper body strength to the limits but also fires up your core and your heart rate.
Begin in the pushup position. Now, rapidly push into a pushup, then bend your knees as you push all the way back, letting your arms extended. Repeat for 10-15 reps or for time, moving at a nice pace for you.
8. Single-Leg Lift Lunge
The single-leg lift lunge is going to hit your core, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and all those stabilizer muscles we spoke of earlier that are crucial for balance and power.
Begin standing. Now, lift one knee toward your chest, then (avoiding tapping the ground) use your core and glutes to drive it all the way through into a lift behind you. As you move your leg forward, drop into a lunge, raising your arms above your head. Push forward, then repeat on the other leg for 10-15 reps, or for time.
9. FreeStyle Flow
Any crouching position is excellent for building strong, mobile legs and a rock-solid core.
Begin in a low crouch, hands touching the sand for balance. Lean-to one side, allowing your opposite leg to stretch out. Now, shift your weight and shimmy to the other side, repeating the movement for 10-15 reps, or for time.