6 Killer Workouts to Do at the Beach

Step away from the sandcastle — and build your body instead.

Photo: Sean Michel

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Ah, the beach — the sun, the sand … the workout? Why not!

Sand is a forgiving surface, reducing the force of normally high-impact moves such as plyometrics. It’s also unstable, requiring all those small, stabilizing muscles to play a bigger role than they usually would on solid ground.

These eight exercises leverage those sandy benefits, giving these six workouts — designed by Andrew Watkins, director of strength and conditioning at Sports Performance Lab in Middletown Township, New Jersey — an unusual edge.

“How [intense] you want these workouts to be depends on the tempo and your ability to push through,” Watkins says. He also suggests doing your workout barefoot. “The muscles in your feet and ankles are just as important as your postural muscles, especially when it comes to preventing knee, hip and low-back issues,” he says. “Standing on the sand in bare feet will help make these underdeveloped muscles stronger because you’ll need them to stabilize your body.”

So slather on the sunscreen — it’s time to play queen of the beach.

The Exercises

Hovering Hamstring Curl

Sit with your knees bent, and place your hands on either side of you with your fingers spread wide. Press down into your hands and feet to lift your hips off the sand. Hold here as you extend one leg, pushing your heel into the sand and driving it forward until it’s straight. As you drag that heel back to the start, simultaneously extend the other leg, like a modified bicycle crunch. Continue, alternating legs.

Tip: The harder you dig down into the sand as you pull your leg toward your glutes, the more challenging it is for your hamstrings.

Photo: Sean Michel

Sand-bucket Goblet Squat

Hold a bucket with both hands at chest height, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and your chest lifted as you kick your hips back, then bend your knees to drop into a low squat. Pause at the bottom, then extend your knees and hips to stand.

Tip: Imagine you’re trying to grab a golf ball with each foot for optimal balance: Drive your big toes, pinkie toes and heels into the sand.

Photo: Sean Michel

Tabletop Crossover

Sit with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground, and place your hands behind you, fingers forward. Press down into your hands and heels to lift your glutes off the ground. Hover here as you alternately bring your opposite knee to your opposite elbow to touch in the center.

Tip: Perform this move slowly, and with each rep, deliberately press down with yourgroundedhand and foot.

Photo: Sean Michel

Three-Prong Push-Up

Get into plank with your hands underneath your shoulders and your head, hips and heels aligned. Lift one leg off the ground, and keep it there as you bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the sand. Pause briefly, then extend your arms to return to the start.

Tip: Flex your feet and dig your grounded toes into the sand to help keep your hips square and improve balance.

Photo: Sean Michel

Fill two buckets evenly with sand — the more sand, the heavier — and stand between them. Keep your back straight as you squat down and take an overhand grasp on the handles. Stand and lift the buckets off the ground, then draw your shoulders down and back and walk using short, quick steps for time or distance.

Tip: Imagine your head is moving in a straight line as you walk — not going side to side or up and down.

Want a bigger challenge? Fill the buckets with water instead of sand and try to walk without spilling!

Photo: Sean Michel

Iso-Lunge Overhead Bucket Press

Hold the bucket in your right hand at shoulder height with your palm facing forward and the bucket draped along the back side of your wrist and arm. Take a large step rearward with your right leg. Bend both knees and lower into a deep lunge until your front knee is bent 90 degrees and your rear knee hovers just above the sand. Hold here as you extend your arm and press the bucket overhead to full extension. Slowly lower to the start. Complete all reps on one side, then switch.

Tip: Squeeze your glutes to stabilize your hips, and focus on the horizon and extend your non-working arm out to the side for better balance.

Photo: Sean Michel

Sand-Bucket Pendlay Row

Place two sand buckets in front of you, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back flat, push your glutes back slightly and hinge forward from your hips until your torso is parallel or nearly so with the beach. Grasp the bucket handles with your hands facing rearward and draw your shoulder blades together. Brace your core, then drive your elbows up and to the sides to raise the buckets off the ground. At the top, your arms should make 90-degree angles at the elbows. Pause briefly, then lower all the way back down to the sand.

Tip: Allow the buckets to settle completely on the sand before beginning your next rep. This eliminates all chance of using momentum to do your reps.

Photo: Sean Michel

Jump Switch Lunge

Assume a wide split stance with your arms at your sides. Bend both knees to lower into a deep lunge and then explode upward, extending your knees and hips and leaping as high as you can. Switch lead legs midair and land with your opposite foot forward. Drop right into your next rep and continue, alternating sides.

Tip: Jumping up and out of the sand is a much harder task than it is on solid ground, so pace yourself and break up large sets as needed.

Photo: Sean Michel

Workout 1: 30-minute AMRAP

Complete as many rounds as possible of the following workout in 30 minutes.

Exercise Time/Reps
Tabletop Crossover 30 seconds
Sand-Bucket Goblet Squat 10
Sand-Bucket Pendlay Row 10
Three-Prong Push-Up 10
Iso-Lunge Overhead Bucket Press 10 (each arm)
Sand-Bucket Farmer’s Walk 60 seconds
Jump Switch Lunge 30 seconds

Workout 2: Work-It Circuit

Complete four rounds of the following workout.

Exercise Reps/Time
Sand-Bucket Goblet Squat 10
Sand-Bucket Pendlay Row 10
Three-Prong Push-Up 5 (each leg)
Hovering Hamstring Curl 5 (each leg)
Jump Switch Lunge 5 (each leg)
Iso-Lunge Overhead Bucket Press 10 (each arm)
Tabletop Crossover 10 (each side)
Sprint 30 seconds
Rest 90 seconds

Workout 3: Front-to-Back Tabata

Complete four rounds of the following workout.

Exercise Seconds
Three-Prong Push-Up 20
Rest 10
Sand-Bucket Pendlay Row 20
Rest 10

Workout 4: Two-by-Two

Every two minutes, perform a superset. Complete all reps of both moves, then rest any remaining time. Begin again at the next two-minute mark. Complete two to three rounds of each superset.

Exercise Sets Reps
Jump Switch Lunge 2-3 5 (each side)
— superset with —
Iso-Lunge Overhead Bucket Press 2-3 5 (each side)
Sand-Bucket Goblet Squat 2-3 10
— superset with —
Sprint 2-3 30 yards
Tabletop Crossover 2-3 5 (each side)
— superset with —
Hovering Hamstring Curl 2-3 10 (each leg)

Workout 5: Straight-Up Strength

Complete all sets and reps of one move before continuing to the next. Rest 60 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps
Sand-Bucket Goblet Squat 5 5
Sand-Bucket Pendlay Row 5 5
Three-Prong Push-Up 5 5 (each leg)
Iso-Lunge Overhead Bucket Press 5 5 (each side)
Tabletop Crossover 5 5 (each side)
Hovering Hamstring Curl 5 5 (each leg)


Complete as many reps of the below move as you can in 60 seconds. Record your number, then try to beat it next time you do the workout.

Exercise Seconds
Jump Switch Lunge 60

Workout 6: Up-and-Down Chipper

Perform the moves in order. Complete all reps of one move before continuing to the next, resting only as needed to catch your breath. Record your time.

Exercise Reps
Three-Prong Push-Up (right) 10
Hovering Hamstring Curl 20
Iso-Lunge Overhead Bucket Press (right) 30
Sand-Bucket Pendlay Row 40
Sand-Bucket Goblet Squat 50
Sand-Bucket Pendlay Row 40
Iso-Lunge Overhead Bucket Press (left) 30
Hovering Hamstring Curl 20
Three-Prong Push-Up (left) 10

You can still do these workouts after summer is over! Sub kettlebells for buckets, and use gliding discs for the hamstring curl.

Model: Claire P. Thomas / Hair & Makeup: Linda Herberger, LAH Salon / Swimsuit: Model’s Own