Friday, July 17, 2015

Beach Training

     If you haven’t already, it’s time to start training at the beach. You want to do a combination of strength (body weight exercises) and cardiovascular (sand running) training. Your time at the beach is more important than your time in the gym, since the beach is where the Beast takes place. You’ll be surprised how much the sand can break down your legs and tax muscles you aren’t used to using when you run on pavement. The sand acts as a shock absorber for your joints, but it requires far more muscle activation from your core and legs.
     Sand running becomes easier the more you do it, due to the micro adjustments your body makes. You want to adopt more of a shuffling running gait, as opposed to the gait you utilize on pavement.  When you shuffle, you glide across the surface of the beach, making you more energy efficient and effective in your speed. It’s imperative that you don’t run along the water and instead, stay up on the beach closer to the tree line. The sand along the water is completely saturated, which can cause you to sink and make it more difficult to run. The water’s edge is slanted, causing more stress on your knees and ankles than when you are on a flat surface. When you run along the shoreline, you will be running almost twice as far than if you run up on the beach. The shoreline is a winding path, so by staying up on the beach, I run a straight line and I’ve been able to pass a large number of participants that were running along the water. Since your feet will be getting wet, I recommend not wearing socks with your running shoes. Socks cause a lot of friction when they’re wet, and that friction can cause blisters. Sand is going to get in your shoes no matter what you do, and bare feet will adapt more efficiently.
     Your strength training regimen should involve body weight exercises, which are listed in the following table.
Jumping Jacks
Leg Lifts
Bear Crawls
Low Crawling
Mountain Climbers
Alligator Walks

     In my Beach Boot Camp program, we perform each of these exercises partly submerged in the lake water, at the level of our knees. Jumping jacks at this depth, activates your abductors and adductors due to the water resistance. Mountain climbers and push-ups at the water’s edge, are more difficult due to the water pulling away the sand out from under your hands, requiring more abdominal strength. I recommend including a sand bag or weighted back pack for enhancing your beach strength training program. With these included, you can then perform exercises from the following table.
Squat w/ Shoulder Press
Power Clean
Bicep Curl
Lunge w/ Shoulder Press
Supine Chest Press
Running w/ Weight (25-50 lbs)
Farmer Walks
Bent-Over Row

     We do the majority of our training from Beach 6 to Beach 8 and utilize every natural obstacle along the way. My favorite location is just after Pettinato Beach, and it’s a large sand hill that we use for bear crawls, sprints and loaded carries. It’s perfect for both strength training and cardiovascular conditioning. If you don’t live near a beach, I suggest finding any type of hill, whether it’s made of pavement, grass or dirt. It will definitely be a beneficial component of your training regimen. 

-Dave Hopkins, M.S. ACSM-HFS, NSCA-CSCS
Fitness Supervisor
LECOM Medical Fitness & Wellness Center
5401 Peach Street Erie, PA 16509

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