Take a breather from the gym and head outdoors for a beach circuit of boot camp in the summer! Angelique Tagaroulias explores the benefits of these sweat-creating activities.
The benefits of outdoor training
“Circuit training is an excellent way to frame your workouts regardless of whether you are working to time (i.e. 30 seconds on, 10 seconds off) or reps (i.e. 8–12 reps),” says personal trainer and owner of Flow Athletic Ben Lucas.
“You can tailor a circuit workout to suit your needs whether you want to work on your heart rate and endurance, or a slower strength-based workout.”
Sand also adds to the resistance, which Lucas says is great for your core, thighs and glutes – hello, booty. The unusual surface also helps with stability and is lower impact than running and sprinting on regular ground. Plus, with an array of exercise and timing options, you won’t get bored. Win, win, win.
Once a form of military entry training, outdoor boot camps typically involve a mix of bodyweight exercises, interval training and strength training in a group fitness environment – a good way to cover all fitness goals. Outdoor boot camps also help you to continuously progress and see results due to the variety of exercises and intensities involved.
For beginners, bodyweight exercises will likely produce some muscle gains, but for the more advanced you can add equipment such as kettlebells and resistance bands to allow for heavier loads and progression.
Limitations to keep in mind
The potential to improve all areas of your fitness and physique skyrocket given your ability to adjust the workout to your goal: want to lose fat? Keep the cardio exercises at high intensity with limited rest. Want to gain muscle? Add moderately weighted resistance exercise into the mix and increase your rest times between movements. Think time under tension – slow and steady movements to ensure the muscles are under load for longer periods of time, maximising ‘tone’.
That said, the high intensity and fast-paced nature of circuits can cause injury – particularly if overtraining and poor technique are a factor, warns Ferstera. Recovery sessions and a balanced training regimen, again, are important.
“Mixing up the type of activities you do in your boot camps means you’re likely to continue to see improvements. Most people who are stuck in a plateau and then have a rest from their training often find their plateau ends after their rest,” says exercise physiologist and exercise scientist Naomi Ferstera.
“Plus, when you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re more likely to keep going and push yourself harder.”
Doing what you enjoy seems to be the best strategy for success when it comes to getting your recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. A study published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that among two groups of people – one that did HIIT and the other longer moderate-intensity exercise – those who did moderate-intensity exercise compared to high-intensity reported greater pleasure and enjoyment, and felt more likely to keep it up.
If circuit training on the beach is your pick, Lucas recommends 3 to 4 workouts per week at 30 to 40 minutes in duration, supplemented with low-intensity steady-state cardio such as walking and yoga.
Try the following exercises, completing:
»Repeat for 3 rounds
»30 seconds' rest between rounds
1. lateral lunges
2. squat jumps
4. 20 metre shuttle sprints (use towels or cones as markers and set them out 20 metres apart)
“Training on the sand can cause lactic acid to build up in the legs, so you want to flush it out. Lighter exercise will ensure your muscles have a chance to recover, and will also keep your cortisol and inflammation levels in check,” he says.
Image: Elise Carver Surf Trainer.
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