Monday 13th of March on Horseshoe Bay Beach in Bermuda. Dubbed one of the, “The world’s most beautiful” it was easy to see why. Delaying the day’s workout to bask in the Bermudan beauty, I sip my pre-workout shake (rather than downing it in one). I nibble my protein bar (rather than attack it in 2 bites). I then take my notepad out and write the following beach-based strength and conditioning musings in some of the most serene settings i’ve ever had the privilege to call a “gym”.
This is the first of many articles that I wrote in Bermuda, with videos and stunning imagery to follow (courtesy of the media genius that is Harvey Gibson) other articles will include:
- Training with the Land Rover Bar Team ahead of their America’s Cup Campaign
- More Beach Inspired Workouts (the videos will be incredible)
- Maybe the world’s best lobster recipe (for those who like seafood, Bermuda is renowned as being incomparable)
How to get surfboard abs (even if you don’t surf)
In the world of sport science there’s something called the SAID Principle. It stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. It means your body adapts and becomes better at the specific form of stress you place on it. With this in mind, doing endless sit-ups and stomach crunch variations will only ever mean that you become really good at contracting your abdominal muscles over and over again through a tiny range of motion.
If this is what you want then brilliant, keep doing them. But what if you wanted to produce a functional core that remains tight, hard and chiseled, you should grab a surfboard and begin tackling some waves. This is based on research conducted at the Department of Kinesiology at The Pennsylvania State University, USA, that discovered large, compound movements that require the arms and legs to work in unison with the ‘primary trunk muscles’ of the stomach showed a 20 per cent greater activation in the rectus abdominis muscles – the main muscle of the core – compared to the incredibly specific, and often favoured, abdominal crunch.
Don’t have a board or beach on your doorstep? Not a problem. Try throwing a “Plank Reach” variation exercise into your routine that incorporates the theory:
- Get in plank position on your hands. This is essentially the start position of a press-up whilst ensuring your back is straight and your stomach is kept tight.
- Slowly and in a controlled manner lift your right foot off the floor, keeping your leg straight.
- At the exact same time lift your left hand off the floor and extend it straight out in front of you.
- Hold for 5 seconds and then return back to your original position.
- Perform this on the alternate arm and leg and repeat 10 times, for three sets.
How to lose fat with sand
Most forms of exercise are simply a matter of applying some kind of resistance for us to adapt and improve against. Typically – and within reason – more resistance equals a greater adaptation.
Therefore for this simple reason alone taking a bare-footed run along the beach is rarely a bad idea. But how much difference can it really make?
Well, to help quantify this scientists from the Université catholique de Louvain in, Belgium set out to determine the energy expended running on sand compared to running on something more solid. Analysing oxygen usage they found, “Walking on sand requires 2.1 to 2.7 times more energy compared to walking on a hard surface at the same speed; while running on sand requires 1.6 times more energy than running on a hard surface.”
How to boost testosterone in the sun
Generally it’s accepted that for men more testosterone is a good thing. Boost it naturally and an improved mood, accelerated ability for fat loss and a greater capacity to build muscle are just some of the benefits you could expect. Which is why taking your workout outside to catch some rays is a good idea according to researchers from the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Medical University of Graz in Austria.
The scientists claimed that a gentleman’s, er, ‘parts’ have “Been identified as a target tissue for vitamin D.” Vitamin D is of course known as the “sunshine vitamin” since it’s a vitamin we can synthesize straight from sunlight. Which is why our Austrian study theorised – and proved – Vitamin D directly influences testosterone in men. Worth noting is the scientists conducting the experiment stated, “Our results suggest that vitamin D might increase testosterone levels” but added, “Further randomized controlled trials are warranted to confirm this hypothesis.”
But although this was a preliminary study, others studies have since supported the findings. Like that from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health who concluded, “This study supports previously reported positive associations between vitamin D and testosterone.” Also claiming, “Vitamin D-testosterone association deserve further scientific investigation.”
So for all these reasons take your training outside and to the beach, or at the very least take inspiration from it. It may be the best, most science-backed workout you have all year.