With the steady crash of waves, the light whisper of a fresh sea breeze and sunbathers lounging contently in the sunshine, the beach isn't usually an environment where people overly exert themselves.
But, as it turns out, a sandy beach can actually provide one of the best possible surfaces for a barefoot-running workout; and a beach workout can be a great way to stay fit.
No Shoes Required
"The foot is an incredible piece of machinery," says Ben Cohen, an accomplished collegiate strength coach and founder of Ben Cohen Athletic Advising. "With 26 bones, 33 joints, 12 tendons and 18 muscles, they all stretch and move like an earthquake-resistant suspension bridge."
Cohen is one of the many advocates of barefoot running and likens the foot's structure to that of the Parthenon, an architectural structure capable of supporting a lot of weight.
Putting a support column under the arch of the Parthenon defeats the purpose of the arch. Similarly, once you add the support of a shoe to a foot, it's counter-productive to the foot's structure, according to Cohen.
For this reason, Cohen believes running in the sand is one of the best exercises for your ankles and feet. It forces you to use your toes like talons, grabbing the sand with each stride. There's also little impact on your knees and consistent resistance to help you maximize your workout
Jog about 100 yards and back in the low, wet sand to warm up with less resistance: Do some butt kicks and high knees during the run. Also, take some time to stretch your calves, hamstrings, quads and glutes. If your body is not used to running in the sand, it can be easy to pull a muscle.
Gather some driftwood, rocks or even some T-shirts to mark out every 10 yards.
You're going to start with some shuttle sprints, which are short bursts of speed with quick direction changes.
These are great to do with a partner of similar speed so you can push one another.
Sprint 10 yards, touch the sand and quickly turn around to sprint back. Rest for 15 seconds, then sprint out 20 yards and back.
Continue increasing the distance in increments of 10 until you get to 50 yards; then come back down. Try to push off the line quickly.
Take a minute to rest, then work in some plyomterics—exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements—in the high sand. This will really give your legs and lungs a good burst.
- 10 Burpees: Drop from standing into a plank, do a push-up, hop to your feet and jump as high as you can. Repeat.
- 20 Double Leg Hops: With your feet together, explode up and out as far as you can in rapid succession, staying in the air as much as possible.
- 20 Tuck Jumps: In one place, jump straight up and bring your knees to your chest, exploding back up as soon as your feet hit the ground.
Run as fast as you can for about 100 yards in the firm sand closer to the water, draw a line where you turn around, then run back in the deep sand. Take a minute break; then repeat 10 times, running to the same line.
The best part about this beach workout is you can run straight into the ocean to take a nice dip in the cool water, which will soothe your muscles and joints instantly and help cool you off.
More: 15 Minute Beach Workout
Stay in shape in a fitness class.