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You spent the spring working on your beach bod. You put in the time and you look great—but now you have to maintain that hard-earned physique.

You don’t want to sacrifice your physical health, yet you need to treat yourself for your mental health’s sake. Because there’s nothing like an Italian hoagie, a couple crisp beers, and a nap down the shore. You deserve that kickback time, and thankfully, a simple beachside workout will let you have your cake and eat it, too. Literally.

We’re not telling you to lug your kettlebell to the coast or bench press the umbrella—and you don’t need to.

Walking, running, and doing simple bodyweight exercises on the sand is more effective for calorie burning than working out on solid surfaces, as “your nervous system has to recruit additional muscle fibers in your legs, hips, and trunk” to handle the shifting sand, according to Rocco Bergin, a trainer for the Sports Center at New York’s Chelsea Piers.

The soft surface of the beach absorbs more energy than a gym floor, causing you to engage your muscles longer to rebound off the ground. The extra effort is worth it though. A beach workout helps you burn up to 50 percent more calories per minute than you would on the grass or at the gym.

You’ll get faster results with less soreness the day after, as research shows that the impact on your joints is roughly four times lower on sand than on firmer surfaces, which can lead to less post-workout inflammation and soreness.

Try these four exercises to stay active on the sand and remember to apply sunscreen liberally throughout the day. One note: find some level sand (wet sand will be firmer and easier to work on, but pick dry sand if you are looking for a challenge. You can wear sneakers or go barefoot if it’s comfortable for you.

Warm up with a brisk walk or jog

woman running on beach

It’s dangerous to go directly into meatier exercises. Get your muscles warmed up with some light cardio first.

  • Start off by running/jogging at your own pace for three minutes.
  • Pick a small strip of the beach and go down and back one time for sets of:
    • High knees
    • Cherry pickers
    • Butt Kicks

Drop into some pushup variations

pushups on beach

You can’t beat the classic push-up. They strengthen everything from your arms to your abdominals to your glutes and get your heartrate up for a burst of a cardio.

Here are a few variations of pushups you can do to target different areas. Remember: If you need to reduce pressure on your wrists, modify by dropping to your knees. There’s no shame in how you do them, as long as you do them.

Try to do each variation 15-20 times.

Wide pushups:

Spread your hands our wide beyond your shoulders to get a deeper chest strengthener. Pause at the bottom to engage your core.

Spider pushups:

In the wide pushup stance, bring your right knee to meet your right elbow with each push-up for an extra abdominal push to get those side obliques. Alternate sides for fifteen each.

Narrow pushups:

Hug your elbows in close alongside your ribcage to activate your triceps. Keep these quick and shallow.

Reverse pushup:

Swing your legs around and place your feet on the sand in front of you. Place your hands to the side, pointing out, hoist yourself up and lower yourself down twenty times to activate your triceps.

Tighten your abs with plank variations

planks on the beach

You want to avoid exercises that grind sand into your skin, which makes a forearm plank less than pleasant if you don’t have an extra plush beach towel. Skip the exfoliation treatment and instead, try these plank variations for a great core workout.

Shoulder taps:

While holding high plank, shift your weight to your left in order to raise your right hand up and tap your left shoulder. Alternate sides for fifteen reps. Make sure to stay at a controlled pace instead of using momentum to rock back and forth without engaging your core.

Plank knee twist:

Like spider push ups but in high plank, bring your right knee to your right elbow and alternate sides for fifteen reps.

Two-Point Plank:

Time for a balance challenge! In high plank, raise your right arm up to shoulder height, then lift and raise your left leg up to meet it. Hold for ten seconds before repeating the exercise with the opposite sides.

Work your largest muscles with squats and lunges

Man doing lunges on beach

Never neglect your legs during a workout. Your quad muscles make up your largest and strongest muscle group, which makes them a calorie-burning mega machine.

Jump squats:

To get your heart rate back up, do two quick sets of fifteen jump squats. Start in a standing position, squat down as if you were sitting in a chair, and then use your thigh muscles to jump into the air. Land with soft knees and repeat.

Walking lunges:

Do walking lunges fifteen paces down and back. Put your hands on your hips or feel free to put a beach bag in both hands for an extra challenge. The slower you go, the bigger the payoff.

Bodyweight squats:

Just your standard squat: slowly lower yourself down as if you were sitting in a chair for twenty reps. Option to position your legs out wider on an angle for another twenty reps to really burn up your outside glutes.

If reading all of this makes you feel overwhelmed or if it’s been a minute since you left the workout studio and had to fend for yourself, don’t stress. Schedule an appointment at Elitra Health Center in Manhattan, and our expert exercise physiologist will take it from there.

They’ll come up with a custom work-out plan for you that takes into account any previous injuries and fitness preferences. They’ll demonstrate the moves with you and make sure you know the proper form to protect your joints as your workout.

Everyone could always use a refresher in proper form and help tracking their progress, so schedule an Elitra Exam to help monitor your stats and reorientate your goals, if needed.

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