Summer is finally upon us and people have started to head to the shore for some much needed rest and relaxation. If you are someone who exercises on a regular basis it may seem like your training will have to take a back seat for the time that you are at the beach.
I personally love to exercise at the beach. If you want to mix up your training and incorporate some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) into your routine you have come to the right place. The beach, in my opinion, is one of the best places to train.
Before we get started, let me briefly explain what I am talking about when we talk about HIIT. For years, athletes and weekend warriors have been incorporating HIIT into their routines. Here is just one example: If you played high school football, I am sure that you ran hill sprints. Well, this is a form of HIIT training. This type of training has become very popular over the past few years but don’t let people fool you, this training is nothing new. What is new is that people are now starting to realize some of the cardiac and skeletal benefits as well as adaptations that can happen when someone implements a safe and progressive HIIT program.
HIIT training is basically short, intense training intervals where your body works at a very high intensity for a specific time and then allows for adequate recovery period. After a certain time you then repeat the exercise for a certain number of sets and repetitions.
So why is HIIT training beneficial for people instead of long slow training? Here are a few key points on HIIT:
- Helps to optimize your heart’s capacity to send blood to your muscles.
- Helps you to go harder and longer in your endurance events when you implement a safe protocol.
- You can increase your metabolic efficiency and improve your fat burning qualities in less time than you can with long aerobic sessions.
HIIT training is just one form of training. A key point to ask yourself is what are your goals? If you are planning to do triathlons/longer running races, you will still need to incorporate long aerobic sessions into your training (FYI, there are benefits as well to aerobic training). If your goal is simply fat loss, implementing HIIT training into your routine a couple times per week may increase your benefits.
When I recommend HIIT training, I always recommend the following:
- Wear a heart rate monitor. The interval session should be based off of your recovery. If your heart rate gets to 180 bpm (beats per minute) wait until your heart rate comes back down to 120-130 bpm before you repeat the cycle. I use a Polar heart rate monitor for my training.
- If you are a beginner, ALWAYS allow for added recovery. If you work hard for 20 seconds REST for as long as it takes for you to be able to catch your breath and feel comfortable. Going too hard early on in your training is not the goal. The goals are consistency and results over time.
- Allow 72 hours between training sessions. The days in between are a great time to incorporate some strength training as well as longer aerobic sessions to increase blood flow and improve cardiac function.
- If you are an advanced athlete, I still recommend wearing a heart rate monitor.
- Finally, the goal is NOT to get your heart rate as HIGH as possible but rather work to a point where it may be tough to have a conversation and then back off. Be smart and as always LISTEN to your body.
Here are five ways you can HIIT the beach this summer.
(Please note before you ever start a HIIT program make sure that you have medical clearance and then you ALWAYS warm up properly. Use your heart rate monitor (120-130 bpm) or the talk test to determine your recovery time. Talk test is when you can have a conversation with someone before going again.)
Workout No. 1: Deep sand shuttle runs
- Set up 2 cones 25-50 yards apart
- Run from one cone to the next at approximately 80-90% effort. Depending on your fitness level you can run for 25-100 yards. Rest and repeat.
- Sets: 8-12 rounds depending on your fitness levels
- You can run barefoot or with shoes. If you have never run barefoot, I would recommend starting with shoes.
Workout No. 2: Kettlebell deadlifts and shuttle runs
- Grab a kettlebell that you can safely deadlift. If you do not know how to deadlift and hinge, work with a coach who can teach you the proper way to deadlift.
- Set up two (2) cones 25-50 yards apart
- Work set: Five (5) deadlifts + shuttle run. Rest and repeat
- Sets: 6-10 rounds depending on your fitness levels
Note: if you are experienced with kettlebells you can substitute swings for deadlifts (both are great exercises when done properly).
Workout No. 3: Body weight squats + Pushups + Striders
- Set up two (2) cones 25 yards apart.
- Work set: 10 squats + 5-10 pushups (you can do kneeling pushups if you are unable to do regular pushups) + 25 yard run. Walk back to the start and repeat when you feel recovered
- Sets: 6-12
Workout No. 4: Medicine ball routine
Grab a medicine ball that weighs 4-10 lbs. Also, everyone should have a medicine ball for training. It’s one of the best tools you can use.
- Five (5) squats with medicine ball
- 10 ax chops with the medicine ball (five right/five left). The ball comes diagonally across your body.
- One (1) medicine ball chest throw (two hands and throw as far as possible)
- One (1) run for 10-25 yds.
- Walk back to the start
- Sets 6-12 rounds
Workout No. 5: Band training on the beach
This is one of the best ways to train on the beach. Attach 1-2 bands to a lifeguard stand (Black or purple bands are great starting points.)
- Eight (8) chest rows (2 hands into your chest)
- Eight (8) chest presses (hands shoulder width apart as you press out)
- Five (5) lateral squats per side (step in the band and step right 5x and then left 5x)
- 20 yd. bear crawl (butt down and back flat; go slow and breathe as you do this)
- Walk back to the start
- Sets 5-8 rounds
These are just five examples of how you can HIIT the beach. As always, train smart, monitor your performance and have fun. Good luck!
Kevin Miller is a strength and fitness coach for the Philadelphia Union.
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