The lazy days of summer are upon us, but if you’re only going to the beach to grab some sun, you’re missing out on a great fitness opportunity: The sand and water provide fantastic natural resistance for a cardio and strength workout. Peggy Hall, California-based creator of the “Yoga for Surfers” DVDs, came up with this workout to whip any beach bum into shape.
The moves are designed to be done at the beach, in the order listed, in a circuit without resting between exercises. After completing one circuit, rest for 1 to 2 minutes before repeating the circuit one or two more times.
Before you start, grab two gallon-size water bottles and fill them with water. If you want to go heavier, fill them with sand. If the sand is rough, you may need a towel to protect your knees.
1 Sand skipping: For a cardio warm-up that also targets your shoulders, abdominal muscles and thighs, start by skipping through soft sand, raising your arms and legs as high as possible. Go for eight paces in one direction before turning around and skipping back to your starting point.
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2 Sand sliders: To increase your heart rate while targeting your glutes, thighs, quads and biceps, hold a water bottle in each hand and step out to your right into a squat, bending your elbows to perform a bicep curl. Slide your left foot toward your right as you stand back up. Continue for six to eight steps in one direction before stepping in the other direction, leading with your left leg.
3 Beach climbers: This is a fun variation on mountain climbers, which target your lower abs and glutes and strengthen your chest and triceps while offering a cardio blast. From a pushup position with your hands under your shoulders and your toes curled under, rapidly draw alternate knees toward your chest, then press back out, keeping your toes moving through the soft sand. Continue for 30 seconds, which should be about 20 to 30 repetitions on each leg.
4 Earth movers: To target your chest and upper abs, start on your hands and knees, inhale, and slide your hands forward in the sand for resistance until you are in a kneeling push-up position. As you exhale, engage your abs as you slide your hands back under your shoulders. Perform 12 to 15 repetitions, moving to a new patch of soft sand if necessary.
5 Beach comber: Work your shoulders, quads, hamstrings and oblique muscles in this strength and balancing move. Holding a water bottle in your right hand at shoulder height with your elbow bent (as you would for a shoulder press), balance on your left leg, bend your right knee and keep your right foot lifted behind you. Bend left knee into a one-legged squat as you twist through your waist and reach the water bottle to the outside of your left ankle. Come back up to standing as you straighten your left leg and straighten your right arm, performing a shoulder press. Keep right foot lifted the entire time. Repeat eight to 10 times on one leg, then switch sides.
6 Thigh-high water running: To strengthen your quads and glutes, and to raise your heart rate, stand in thigh-high water on a flat, smooth part of the shoreline. Squat slightly if needed to keep your legs submerged to your thighs. Run against the resistance of the water, parallel to the shore, for 30 to 45 seconds (about 30 to 50 paces).
7 Sand surfing: This targets your calves and shoulders and improves your balance. Standing with your right foot directly in front of your left, keeping your heel touching the toes behind it as if you were on a tightrope, extend your arms to your sides at shoulder height (make this move more difficult by holding light water bottles for extra shoulder work) and raise your heels. Close your eyes throughout the exercise to make this more challenging, and slowly raise and lower your heels 15 times. Open your eyes, switch sides and repeat. Be sure to do this on soft, dry sand, as the added instability will make the exercise more effective in improving your balance.