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5 Exercises For a Beach Workout | Train Like a Lifeguard

5 Exercises For a Beach Workout | Train Like a Lifeguard
Ian Roden
Writer and expert4 years ago
View Ian Roden's profile

Drop your misconceptions of lazy lifeguards. Whether it’s the East or West coast, the US or Australia, ocean life-guarding is no joke. Lifeguards are some of the most physically fit individuals in the world with training techniques considered unorthodox to those used to a regular day at the gym. To illustrate, we’ve compiled 5 exercises you can perform as part of a beach workout this summer.

beach workout
@brentshibla shot by Ian Roden

Before you buy a pair of Birdwell Beach Britches, don’t try these exercises if you suffer from breathing impaired conditions such as asthma or are not an avid ocean swimmer comfortable in the surf.

With that said, lifeguard training starts now.

Run – Swim – Run

A full body workout, the run-swim-run takes some serious grit and determination. This is a popular event that lifeguards take part in during tournaments and competitions regionally and nationally.

During the event, guards usually run anywhere from a quarter-mile to a mile on the sand depending on the tournament.

After completing the run, competitors dive straight into the ocean to begin swimming 200 to 500 meters. Guards then exit the ocean back onto the sand to perform a shorter run sprinting to the finish.

On the sand, try this out with distances suited for your level of experience and add this to your beach workout if you’re up for a true test of endurance.

Underwater Rock Running

Ever seen Blue Crush? When thinking of this activity, you probably think about Kate Bosworth training for heats at Pipeline. Lifeguards, however, use this exercise to test their own endurance and to practice their breath-work.

Pioneered by Brian Keaulana, legendary Hawaiian lifeguard and big-wave surfer, underwater rock running was first created to help surfers cope with the stress of getting held under water for long periods of time.

By combining a high heart rate exercise with a breath-hold, you may be able to train yourself to lower your heart rate in stressful situations. That’s the goal.

In doing so, you may be able to increase your own capacity for endurance. But don’t try this out if you are not an experienced ocean swimmer, surfer, or certified lifeguard as this can be extremely dangerous and even lethal.

The Surf Dash

Like the run-swim-run, this exercise combines running and swimming. The only differentiation here is pace. Unlike the run-swim-run, a surf dash is a dead sprint.

This high intensity exercise involves sprinting from the berm, the slanted sand bank created by changing tides, “Dolphin Diving” through waist to chest high water, and swimming to a marker and back to finish.

beach workout
Shot by Ian Roden

“Dolphin Diving” is a technique used to traverse water too deep to run through and too shallow to swim adequately.

To do so, dive down to the ocean floor, grab the sand while bringing your feet to your hands. Push off the sand with your feet to shoot upward out of the water and engage an arching dive back downward. Repeat until you are in water deep enough to swim efficiently.

Compound Exercises

In order to bring victims out of the water, lifeguards must have a strong core and upper body. For lifeguards, compound exercises, exercises that target multiple muscle groups, are some of the best and most efficient ways to stay prepared and in shape.

Some examples of compound exercises include planks, squats, and dead-lifts.


Talk about a compound exercise. When performed correctly, rowing is a full-body workout. Rowing is a great way to increase endurance while primarily building your upper body but also engaging your core and lower body.

On the East Coast, lifeguards row boats as part of their morning workout and even use them to compete in relay race tournaments against other lifeguards along the shore.

What To Keep In Mind For This Type Of Beach Workout

As a reminder, do not perform these exercises if you are not experienced in the ocean. Rip tides and heavy surf are not safe for novice beach-goers.

As always, check in with your local lifeguard to learn more about ocean conditions before entering the water and respect the ocean.

Ian Roden
Writer and expert
View Ian Roden's profile

A Fordham University graduate, Ian majored in communications and media studies with a focus in journalism and a minor in anthropology during his time at college. Here, he wrote for the university newspaper ranked top ten in the nation.

A competitive athlete for most of his life, Ian has spent almost a decade working as an ocean rescue lifeguard in New Jersey. Within that role, he has competed in endurance sports competitions against other lifeguards for the last 8 years.

As a lifelong surfer, Ian spends most of his spare time in the ocean regardless of the time of year. He also enjoys distance running, photography, and frequently spending entirely too much money on concert tickets.