Travel Workouts

Start Working Out On The Beach Today

Working out on the beach can be one of the most effective ways to get your vitamin D, hang out with friends and stay in shape while travelling the world. We’ve all spent a bit too long in the daytime in a gym on holiday and felt like we missed out a bit. In this guide we are going to load up your buckets with beach workouts you can do, whatever your fitness or body goals.

TLDR: Why you should consider a beach workout and some great ways to do it, for whatever your fitness stage and goals. Whether you’re at Muscle Beach, Venice Beach, or a remote spot on your travels, we have a session for you. 

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Author // David
Author // David

Bothering dumbbells since 2003. I visit a lot of hotels with terrible gyms, so you don't have to. @theskinnyboy

To the point

Sand sprints for burning calories while working out on the beach

With so many options for places to workout, you might wonder why choose the beach. What’s the beach got that the gym in the town hasn’t?

There’s nothing quite like getting outside for a workout. Not only is it free, but you won’t have to wait for someone to finish texting in the squat rack to start your session.

Being outside also gives you a decent dose of vitamin D. The NHS website tells us that Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, helping keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

If you’ve had a few drinks the previous night you might not be up for too much heavy lifting. Here’s where the beach really comes into its own. You can give your endorphins a boost, get some fresh air and enjoy a little resistance and aerobic exercise for balance. Then, if you fancy it, take a quick dip in the sea and you’ll feel ready for the day.

While there are lots of hotels with gyms, some travelling locations are pretty remote. You might not find a gym – a workout on the beach gives you the freedom to get your session done, without hunting around for somewhere that accepts drop-ins.

When you’re traveling you’ll likely want a little sun and beach time, and you’ll want to hang out with family and friends too, but probably don’t want to give up your workout.

Well, when you workout on the beach, you don’t have to make a choice. Slather on the sun cream, grab plenty of water and you’re set – just make sure there is shade nearby if you need to cool down and avoid peak sun sessions (12pm-3pm).

You might even inspire friends and family to join!

Here are some more benefits to working out on the beach, aside from topping up your tan and not being a holiday hermit hidden in the gym:

  1. Increased resistance: Ever tried to run on soft sand? Or do a burpee? A sandy beach creates an unstable surface, making your muscles work harder to maintain balance and stability. This gets those stabiliser muscles engaged, helping improve balance and strength.
  2. Burn more calories: With this added resistance, activities such as walking, running, and jumping burn more energy. So if you were hitting the pina coladas last night a session on the beach will burn more of those creamy calories than one on the pavement, grass or another flat surface.
  3. Less impact: The sand might be high resistance, but it is soft and absorbs impact, helping reduce stress on your joints. This is ideal for people with bad knees, hip issues or those recovering from injuries as it reduces the strain.
  4. Enhanced cardio: Performing cardio exercises like running and beach plyometrics can be more of a challenge than on a flat, hard surface. The resistance of the sand makes your body work harder, giving you a serious cardio workout.
  5. Mental health: Exercising outside on the beach can help reduce stress, and improve your mood and mental clarity. Nothing quite like the sound of the waves lapping against the shore. Finish your session with a few beach yoga moves and meditative breaths. 
  6. Lung function: Sea air is often rich in negative ions which is great for lung function. Being away from large cities and pollution can also be a bonus for your respiratory system.

Sorry, health and safety police here. While working out on the beach is great for mental and physical health, you need to take some precautions.

Before you set off make sure you are in comfortable clothing, have enough to drink with you to avoid heat exhaustion, and have applied sun cream. If you have one, take a yoga mat, beach blanket or a towel to work out on.

Safety Precautions When Working Out on the Sand

When you get to the beach, choose a spot carefully. Here are a few things to look out for:

  1. Buckets and spades
  2. Sharp objects in your workout spot (broken glass, shells, stones etc)
  3. Holes
  4. Shade

What To Wear When Working Out On The Beach

Benefits of working out on the beach

It’s going to be hot. While you might be tempted to go shirtless or shorts and sports bra, make sure you are following sun safe guidelines. The GOV.UK website explains how you can still burn on a cloudy day. Follow the World Health Organisations UV index to ensure you are protecting yourself from sunburn.

You would be best in a T-Shirt, cap, and shorts. Then cover any exposed skin in sun cream – even if it’s the morning or early evening.

Ideas for Beach Workout Equipment

The fantastic thing about a beach workout is that you don’t need anything. You can just rock up with your water bottle and get started. However, there are some nice things to add to your kit, that are lightweight and you can travel with.

  1. Resistance bands – Loop around a tree, loop around your legs. Resistance bands offer a great workout with super lightweight kit.
  2. Yoga mat – With or without a yoga mat your back is going to get sandy. Having a yoga mat for the core workouts might just help stabilise the sand surface.
  3. TRX – A TRX trainer isn’t going to take up much space in your suitcase, but it is going to give you plenty of excellent ways to workout. From plyometric training to resistance training, the TRX is a great bit of kit to invest in for beach workouts.
  4. Skipping rope – No longer reserved for those in primary school. Skipping takes balance, core muscles strength, and stamina. Pick one up for your beach workouts. Double-unders anyone?

Types of Workouts on the Beach

Running on a beach can form part of a great cardio workout

On the beach it’s unlikely you’ll have lots of heavy weights, so deadlifts and chest press might be off the cards, however, all is not lost.

You can do many different types of workout on the beach. Here are a few we love.

  • Circuit training – Set a few exercises and decide the timings for each station, and how many rounds
  • Plyometric training – Get your heart pumping and body muscles working with jumping plyometrics — frog jumps, tuck jumps and jump lunges are great soft sand exercises
  • Core challenges – Finish a session with some core moves. How long can you plank for? How many sit ups in 2 minutes? Hollow hold for 30 seconds? How many shoulder tap planks in a minute?
  • Anaerobic & Total Body Workouts – Move quickly and get every muscle in your body pumped with a total body workout. Alternate between muscle groups so you don’t fatigue too fast. These short sharp bursts of energy will get your heart rate high!
  • Aerobic/Cardio Workouts – Cardio on sand really gets your heart rate up. Burn heaps of calories and go full sweaty beast mode with cardio intervals like sprints and burpees

Top 5 - 30 minute Beach Workouts

Best workouts for working out on the beach

1/5 – Sand Sprints

Time Required: 30 mins

Equipment Needed: Just you, markers/bag/tree to create a fixed distance.

Who For: Progressive – Could be done by most, but best for those with intermediate fitness levels.

Main Muscles: Legs, heart.

Sprints are a really great cardio workout. If you play sports back home it will come in handy to keep your training momentum up while you’re away. You can do these sprints on wet sand for a flatter surface or dry sand for a high resistance challenge.

Warm up tip

Make sure you warm up, paying close attention to your quads and hammys. Ankle rotations are also a good warm up before sprints. A few hip bridges or squats are an excellent idea to help fire up your glutes. If you have had a previous ankle injury be sure to take care when running on sand as it isn’t a level surface.

Main workout

Set a distance of around 30 metres

Sprint from start to finish

Rest for 10-20 seconds

Repeat for 20-30 minutes, take longer rests when needed.

Cool Down

Stretch, focusing on the glutes, hamstrings, quads and ankles.

What to expect

In this workout your heart rate is going to be high, you’ll be blowing. With the sand resistance you can expect doms in muscles you didn’t know you had as those stabilising muscles will be working overtime!

Good as an alternative to

If you’re usually rowing or cross training in the gym, or need a replacement for leg day, sand sprints are a good alternative.

2/5 – The Murph

Time Required: 30 mins to 1 hour (or more!)

Equipment Needed: Just you

Who For: Progressive – Could be done by most with a few adaptations to reps, but best for those with intermediate fitness levels.

Main Muscles: Legs, chest, heart, back, arms

Warm up tip

Take 5 minutes to stretch and mentally prepare for what you’re about to do. Not just a few leg swings here and there, do warm-up squats, inchworms and kneeling push-ups.

Main workout

1-mile run

100 pull-ups

200 push-ups

300 squats

1-mile run

(You can adapt this by doing a shorter run, and reducing the number of reps.)

Cool Down

Stretch. Focus on legs, arms, and chest.

What to expect

Pain. The temptation to stop. BUT. You will feel like an absolute warrior when you’ve finished it!

Good as an alternative to

If you’re usually doing CrossFit or WODs, this is a great option. It can also be swapped for a full-body day at the gym.

3/5 – 30 Minute Circuit Training Beach Workout

I love a circuit. Great to do on holiday with friends and family too as each of you can have a station and then switch when the timer goes off.

Time Required: 30 mins

Equipment Needed: Just you, could use bits of kit if you have anything

Who For: Progressive – Could be done by most with a few adaptations to the movements

Main Muscles: Legs, chest, heart, back, arms

Warm up tip: Make sure you include hip bridges to fire up the glutes.

Main workout:

Set 4 stations, one minute for each station

  1. Sit-ups
  2. Burpees / Frog jumps
  3. Wall sit / Ski sit
  4. Jump lunges

Rest for 1 minute.

Repeat x 5

What to expect

Your heart rate will be high and your legs will be seriously working here. Expect DOMS.

Good as an alternative to

An entire body session at the gym!

4/5 – AMRAP

Time Required: 30 mins

Equipment Needed: Just you – bodyweight exercises

Who For: Progressive – Could be done by most with a few adaptations to the movements or number of reps

Main Muscles: Legs, chest, heart, back, arms

Warm up tip: Warm up properly, focusing on the lower body and chest.

Main workout:

Set a timer for 30 minutes and perform as many rounds as possible before it ends.

  • 20 Bodyweight squats
  • 20 Push-ups
  • 20 Tuck jumps
  • 20 Crunches
  • 20 Reverse lunges
  • 20 Russian twists

What to expect

Time to fly by after the first half. Stick with it.

Good as an alternative to

Any gym day, whether it’s weights or cardio, this workout is going to test you mentally and physically.

5/5 – Core Workout

Time Required: 20 mins

Equipment Needed: Just you, maybe a yoga mat – bodyweight exercises

Who For: Progressive – Could be done by most with a few adaptations to the timings or movements

Main Muscles: Core

Warm up tip: Stretch your sides and back.

Main workout:

30 seconds on, 30 seconds off 

  1. Mountain climbers
  2. Crunches
  3. Plank
  4. Bike crunch
  5. Glute bridge march / Glute bridge

Rest 1-2 minutes. x 4-5 rounds depending on time.

What to expect:

Core on FIRE!


Some beaches have bits of kit on them, like dip and pull-up bars. These can open up some great options for calisthenic workouts. If you’ve got your TRX or resistance bands you can hook them onto the bar too.

Cardio options at the beach are pretty great. Not only can you run on the sand, but there is also the sea for some open water swimming. If you prefer to stay on dry land, try getting your heart rate up with jumping exercises such as burpess, jump squats, jump lunges, and of course jogging on the spot.

Rest // Time For Watermelon

After you’ve done your workout remember to drink – not just cocktails. Keep hydrated with water (alongside a Mojito). Otherwise, you’ll risk getting heat exhaustion and that is one way to spoil a day on holiday.

Sit back on the sun lounger with a cold watermelon. You’ve earned a rest.

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