Ditch the beach chairs and get moving! Sand just may be your new best friend when it comes to agility training. The shifting, shock-absorbing surface is unstable, meaning you need to engage more muscles to maintain balance. Sand also sinks beneath your feet rather than pushing back, requiring you to work harder and intensifying the workout.
But it also gives you great results. Agility training can help you develop power, speed and coordination, as well as balance and reaction time. This kind of training requires your body to work as a whole, engaging muscles from top to bottom. It also uses your “reservoir fibers,” or Type II muscle cells, which help you build strength and develop the sleek, defined muscle bellies we all covet in elite athletes. Plus, it can burn up to 415 calories per session and even more calories postworkout as your body tries to recover.
So head to the sand and do this program to leap into fabulous summer shape. You’ve got nothing to lose but that stubborn body fat!
How to Do It
If you’re new to agility training, stick to the Level 1 workout in which you complete two rounds using a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio (i.e., you work for 45 seconds and rest for 90 seconds). More advanced? Aim for for Level 2, which consists of three rounds of a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio.
During your rest period, stay active: Walk around, do some light jogging or swing your limbs around to help your muscles recover faster by clearing out metabolic waste products.
Before you begin, do a short five-minute warm-up: jog, high knees, bodyweight squats, side shuffles. After training, cool down with some slow walking for five to 10 minutes, then stretch your large muscle groups thoroughly.
Standing Broad Jump
Setup: Draw two parallel lines in the sand about 2 feet apart. Begin with your toes touching the first line and your feet shoulder-width apart.
Action: Bend your knees and dip down quickly, then jump forward over the second line. Land on both feet in a semi-squat. Mark your heel position with a small shell or rock. Jog back around to the start. Repeat, each time trying to jump farther than your last shell.
Tip: Make sure your knees stay over your toes when landing to prevent injury.
Setup: Using a shovel or bucket, create a large pile of sand about 12 inches high. Face the sand pile to begin.
Action: Bend your knees and dip down quickly, then explode up and forward over the sand pile, tucking your knees up to your chest and landing on the other side with your knees soft. Turn around and repeat.
Tip: The higher the sand pile, the more challenging the move. You shouldn’t be able to get over it without tucking your knees.
Setup: Draw a single line in the sand about 6 feet long. Stand on one foot parallel to the line to begin.
Action: Hop back and forth over the line while traveling forward until you reach the end, then hop back and forth backward to the beginning and switch feet.
Tip: Use your arms to help generate upward momentum out of the sand with each hop, and land each time with your knee slightly bent to absorb impact.
Setup: Draw two parallel lines and then draw some rungs about 12 inches apart to make your ladder.
Action: Run through the ladder with high knees, touching each foot once into each square. When you reach the end, turn around and go back through. With each round, try to go a little faster.
Tip: Keep your elbows bent to 90 degrees and use your arms in a chopping motion to help you with speed.
Setup: Draw a line and stand sideways to it on the outside.
Action: Using your arms to help you jump up and over, take a large lateral leap over the line, landing on one foot with soft knee. Continue, alternating sides.
Tip: To help maintain balance on your landing, compress like a spring with each touchdown, bending your hip, knee and ankle and tightening your abs before doing your next leap.
Setup: Draw two lines in the sand about 50 feet apart and stand with your toes on the first line.
Action: Explode off the line and sprint to touch the ground near the second line. Turn quickly and sprint back to the first line, touch the ground and repeat. Complete as many sprints as you can for the interval.
Tip: Imagine driving the ground away from you to accelerate, then as you approach the line, keep your center of gravity low to help you decelerate and switch directions faster.
Pack Your Beach Bag
Gear up for this beach workout with these must-have items:
Cross Trainers (optional): Although it’s great to feel the sand in your toes, you may want to consider wearing shoes. If you do, opt for a cross trainer with plenty of lateral support and a sole wide enough to completely cover the bottom of your foot.
Sunscreen: Use SPF 30 or higher on all exposed areas. Choose a sport formulation that won’t run or rub off when you sweat, and reapply if you’re going to be in the sun post-exercise.
Timer: Use a stopwatch or download a free app like Interval Timer or Gymboss onto your phone (itunes.com) to keep track of your intervals. Program it for the number of rounds you’ll do and the exact work-to-rest time.
Towel: Use it to brush off sand and sweat as well as to rest on afterward while recovering and enjoying the great outdoors.
Water: Hydrate thoroughly before, during and after your agility workout.