Beach Body Blast
By Martin Reader | Photos by Arsenik Studios inc.
Hit the sand and challenge your energy systems with a circuit workout guaranteed to boost muscle and connect movement patterns. The result? dramatically improved physical appearance and performance.
Beach culture across the world is synonymous with beautiful bodies. From the beaches of Rio de Janeiro to California to Barcelona, there’s no question that shorelines attract tanned, sculpted physiques. Some come to show off, others to bask in the sun, and others still to maximise the lifestyle inspired by coastal living. For many, a staple within that lifestyle is beach volleyball — a sport that most often goes hand in hand with the celebrated “beach body”. Derived from hours of demanding sand training that chisels some of the best physiques found in sport, the athletic beach body is Characterised by shredded abs, wide shoulders, toned legs, and overall lean muscles. Like what you hear? Well then, get ready to make a trip to the beach as we give you an inside look into sand training.
I have been playing beach volleyball for Team Canada for the last eight years; I set my goal to compete in the Olympics when I was first exposed to the sport at age 11. I was captivated by the raw athleticism and energy it commanded to execute the multitude of reactive and challenging movements. The sport demands you to be in continuous peak shape in order to react instantly, explode powerfully, move gracefully, recover quickly, and execute skillfully.
Beach volleyball requires the perfect balance of functional muscle mass and trained muscular endurance to champion eight- to 20-second rallies with only minimal rest for nearly 40 minutes (most of which is heat-exposed physical output). Moving in deep sand makes every movement far more challenging, so you need to be as lean and dense as possible to increase efficiency and reduce physical load. Half the battle occurs in the air over a 2.4 metre net — whether you are blocking or spiking, you jump hundreds of times a match, all while maintaining strong abs and shoulders to support strenuous overhead presses and attacks. The sport involves every plane of movement and therefore favours athletes with thin yet strong cores, full shoulder and hip range of motion, as well as precision balance and hand-eye coordination. Every element is an artful dance that combines energy system conditioning, explosive muscle tissue, and maximal joint mobility. So how do these sport-specific adaptations and athletic attributes apply to you? Because training like an athlete will help you build the symmetrical and perfectly proportioned physique you have always wanted.
Training in the sand is strenuous, to say the least, but it’s well worth the additional effort. Not only will your joints feel better from the softer landings, but the instability of sand will also strengthen your feet, ankles, knees, and core. With the extra element of balance to contend with, your body will respond by making performance gains as well. By incorporating the concept of sand training into a full-body performance workout, you will start to notice a difference in your appearance & more importantly, your athletic prowess in as little as a few weeks.
BEACH BODY CIRCUIT ROUTINE
Light jog for three to five minutes
Standing upward arm reach
Downward-dog Achilles stretch
Set up four pylons and complete the following:
Forward - lateral shuffle - backward - forward - lateral shuffle -
backward x 4 = 1 rep
Perform four reps with 10 seconds rest between each rep.
SEQUENCE 1: DYNAMIC HIPS AND LEGS
Start on your knees, thrust your hips forward and drive your knees up using momentum to bring you to a deep squat (swing arms if needed). Land softly with feet wide and parallel. Explode up to full hip extension and jump into the air. As you land, reach your arms behind you, absorb the landing, and then explode forward into three forward leap frog jumps. Repeat five times.
Stand with knees slightly bent and reach your hands to the ground, maintaining a flat back while extending one leg behind you. Step your feet back into a plank, raise one foot, then bring your knee forward to your chest and plant it to come into a low lunge. From here, jump upward, bringing your rear knee up in front of your body. Land and repeat on your other side. Do five reps on each side.
Jump Side Crunch
Stand with toes pointed out slightly and hands behind your head. Squat down low, then drive explosively upward and shift your weight onto one leg. Jump, lifting your other knee up and out to the side, crunching your elbow toward your lifted knee. Land on your jumping leg and return to the start. Repeat five times on
SEQUENCE 2: PILLAR CHEST AND CORE
Start with a rep range that allows you to complete all movements without rest. Begin with 12 as noted, and work your way up.
Push-Up to Pillar Twist x 12
Narrow Pillar Reach Back x 12
Incline Push-Up to Toe Touch x 12
Superman x 12
SEQUENCE 3: ATHLETIC ABS AND POSTERIOR CHAIN
Perform 12 reps on each side for all moves listed below.
Reverse Plank Mt. Climbers x 12
Single-Legged Glute Raise x 12
Single-Legged, One-Arm Opposing V-Up x 12
Glute Bridge to Single-Legged Kickout x 12
Side Plank to Lower-Leg Knee-Up and Out x 12
Glute Bridge to Reach-Over and Twist x 12
SEQUENCE 4: POSTURE AND SHOULDER MOBILITY
Lying Dynamic Backburn x 12 (Palms face up on back. Lift elbows then chest off ground, then sweep your arms forward, ending with them overhead with thumbs pointing up.)
Lower- and Upper-Body Raise x 12
Kneeling Angle Field Goal x 12
Kneeling Overhead Good Morning x 12
Standing Arm Circle — Complete with internal rotation (thumbs down) x 20, neutral (thumbs parallel to the ground) x 20, and external rotation (thumb up) x 20
SEQUENCE 1: DYNAMIC HIPS AND LEGS
The most powerful sports movement is a hip thrust, as it’s responsible for driving vertical and lateral movement. The higher you can jump and the faster you explode laterally means the tighter your glutes and midsection are. The first series of moves, called the triple threat, is a progression that will teach your body the proper mechanics for hinging at the pelvis rather than stressing your lower back. It begins with an isolated hip thrust with a straight back to get your body to drive with the glutes, not the legs. Then, you go immediately into a full leg and hip-thrust jump. When you land, you immediately explode into broad frog leaps.
Next is the explosive flow for a full-body power transition between front- and rear-chain muscles. This is topped by a single-legged jump and knee drive to challenge balance, develop unilateral leg power, and increase ab contraction.
Finally, you’ll end with the jump side crunch. This last movement adds a slightly different glute, hamstring, and ab contraction for fuller hip development while also challenging your obliques and midsection.
Jump Side Crunch
SEQUENCE 2: PILLAR CHEST AND CORE
A toned set of shoulders complimented by a tight pec line ranks right up there with abs for beach importance; however, if you don’t have good posture as well, you will appear smaller than you are and will give off weak body language. That’s why it is crucial to build your chest and shoulders while putting a priority on posture and shoulder health for function and presence. This sequence will rip up your core while reinforcing your shoulders to sit back proudly and with full mobility. Expect to get full pecs as you perform wide, narrow, and incline push-ups with dynamic rotations and reaches to Stabilise your shoulder girdle. Find a rep range that allows you to complete this sequence without rest, as time under tension is integral to your results.
Push-Up to Pillar Twist
Narrow Pillar Reach Back
Incline Push-Up to Toe Touch
SEQUENCE 3: ATHLETIC ABS AND POSTERIOR CHAIN
Shoulder-to-waist ratio is one of the true reflections of conditioning and is a subconscious primal attraction factor for both sexes. Only hard work and dedication get you a set of steel-cut abs, and this sequence challenges both. Take no rest between exercises, as the glute bridge actively rests and stretches your abs for optimised recovery. Both opposing muscle chain moves incorporate a single-leg focus to build core stability, lower-ab definition, and some hip-flexor recruitment. The straighter you keep your legs and the further you reach with your arms, the more difficult it will be. Keep your abs tight by pulling your belly button in towards your spine to support your lower back and enhance your core activation. Warning: This will be a deep burn but may help you get one step closer to entering the next Inside Fitness cover model search.
Reverse Plank Mt. Climbers
Single-Legged Glute Raise
Single-Legged, One-Arm Opposing V-Up
Glute Bridge to Single-Legged Kickout
Side Plank to Lower-Leg Knee-Up and Out
Glute Bridge to Reach-Over and Twist
SEQUENCE 4: POSTURE AND SHOULDER MOBILITY
You will finish this circuit routine by toning your shoulders while reinforcing full range of motion. This sequence will help improve your flexibility as well as your functional overhead stability, and it will strengthen your lower back as the foundation. Be sure to perform the shoulder rotations as tightly and quickly as possible to finish this workout with authority. We can almost guarantee that you’ll experience a deep, pesky burn at this point, but the performance benefits — with a bonus of posterior shoulder definition — will be worth the discomfort.
Lying Dynamic Backburn
Lower- and Upper-Body Raise
Kneeling Angle Field Goal
Kneeling Overhead Good Morning
No Pain, No Gain
Machines have their place and cables are cool, but if you really want to pack
on some brawn you have to go back to the muscle-building intensity that only barbell training can offer
Fitness has come a long way. The average gym these days is twice the size and twice as packed with machines and contraptions when compared to facilities only 10 years ago. Despite all of these new amenities, the basic principle of muscle building remains the same: go heavy or go home. The best way to go heavy is with that oldest of gym tools — the barbell. “If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck with time spent in the gym, you will be best served by utilising compound barbell moves in order to develop a well-balanced muscular foundation, as well as maximising your strength at the same time,” says pictured ﬁtness model and personal trainer Dylan Thomas. “Your overall muscular coordination will improve rapidly, and you will be burning maximum amounts of calories with each workout as well.” Thomas adds that the effect heavy barbell training has on the central nervous system is such that it will force your body to change and adapt to the stimulation provided, much more so than with machines.
Contrary to popular belief, the ideal way to incorporate barbell moves into your routine is to perform the exercises as a total-body circuit split up into two separate days with one day of rest between, according to John DePass, Pro Trainer and owner of Hi-End Fitness in Burlington, Ontario. He explains that aside from building more muscle, training in this way improves overall strength and ability rather than individual body parts. “Our bodies are not designed to work in parts or segments,” says DePass. “Training it that way will create muscular imbalances. Adopting a full-body ‘functional style’ workout routine will train your muscles to work as a unit.”
Begin with a light 12- to 15-minute warm-up. Do three sets of each exercise, with only six to eight reps per exercise. Allow one to two minutes between each set. “The longer the rest, the more muscular building the workout will become,” says DePass. On the days between workouts, he recommends working in a cardio or yoga session to keep your body active. Be sure to take at least one day completely off (no weights or cardio) to ensure complete recovery.
START: Set the bar on a rack just above shoulder level. Step under the bar, place it across the back of your shoulders, slightly below your neck, and lift it off of the rack by pressing with your legs and straightening your torso. Step away from the rack as you position your legs in a shoulder-width stance, toes pointed out.
EXECUTION: Slowly bend your knees and sit back into your hips, squatting down until your thighs are slightly lower than parallel with the floor. Press through your heels to straighten your legs and bring your hips back into the starting position.
Barbell Upright Row
START: Begin by grasping a barbell with an overhand grip slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. Rest the bar in front of your thighs, arms extended with a slight elbow bend. Make sure that your back is straight.
EXECUTION: Use your shoulders to lift the bar while you exhale, raising your elbows up and to the sides. The bar should be close to your body as you raise it up. Lift the bar until it is just below your chin, pause for two counts, and inhale as you lower the bar back down to the starting position.
START: Lie down on a flat bench and grasp the barbell with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Lift the barbell and hold it directly over your pectoral muscles with a slight bend in your elbows.
EXECUTION: Bring the bar down slowly until it reaches the middle of your chest. Pause briefly before pressing the bar back up into the starting position, squeezing your pectoral muscles as you do so. Keep in mind that lowering the weight should take twice as long as raising it.
START: Begin standing in front of a loaded barbell. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees, and grab the bar using a shoulder-width overhand grip.
EXECUTION: Lift the bar by contracting your glutes and hamstrings, straightening your legs and raising your torso into an upright position. Push your chest out and contract your back by pushing your shoulder blades rearward. Return to the starting position by bending your knees and leaning your torso forward while ensuring that your back remains straight.
START: Place a barbell about chest high on a squat rack. Hold onto the barbell using a palms-forward grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. While bending your knees slightly, lift the barbell so that it rests just above your collarbone.
EXECUTION: Using only your shoulder muscles for momentum, press the barbell straight up over your head. Pause for a count before returning to the starting position.
START: Grab a chin-up bar with a wider than shoulder-width grip. Place a dumbbell between your feet and lift it by crossing your legs around the grip. This is a tricky set-up to master, so consider asking a spotter to place the dumbbell in position for you.
EXECUTION: Keeping your back straight and lower body fixed in position, pull yourself up toward the bar using only your arms and the muscles in your back for momentum. When your chin has reached the bar, pause for a count, strongly contract your back muscles, and then return to the starting position.
By Sarah Horwath
Photos of Dylan Thomas
by Arsenik Studios Inc.
GREASE THE GROOVE
THE KEY TO A STRONGER WORKOUT
The key to a stronger workout starts even before the workout begins; it starts during your warm up. You do a warm up right? And, if you do a warm up, do you remember that it’s just that? It’s a warm up, not a whole workout.
So I am assuming, as a reader of Inside Fitness, you know that hopping on a treadmill or a bike isn’t the best way to warm up for lifting. It just warms you up for more cardio. For lifting, I want to focus on your weight training warm up, which should include, what are known in the bodybuilding world as acclimation sets. Acclimation sets are a progression system of sets prior to your “work set” that allow the lifter to “rev up” the weights gently, to prepare the nervous system and muscle fibres to work at their optimal level. You wouldn’t put the gas pedal of your car to the floor and expect the best overall performance, so why would you treat your body that way? By gradually increasing weight through the use of proper warm up sets, followed by acclimation sets, you’ll get better muscle mileage in your work set. In other words, you’ll see noticeable strength gains.
Most people, if they warm up at all, fatigue their muscles before they get to their heavy working sets or the money sets, where the real muscle stimulus takes place. They typically fatigue their muscles by pyramiding working sets, starting with 15 repetitions and progressing through their next sets using heavier weight and fewer repetitions. After these high rep sets, your muscles are burnt out, when they should be fresh to attack your heavy working sets.
When warming up, you should only do enough to encourage blood flow into the muscle group you are training and activate the nervous system; this is also known as the mind to muscle connection. Most people, whether they realise it or not, take acclimation sets way too far. Excessive warm up reps are counterproductive. They cause unnecessary fatigue, limiting the amount of weight you can use on your heavy, muscle-building sets. You want to perform lower rep warm up sets to gradually get your mind, muscles and joints ready for the heavy weight. I recommend that you gradually increase the weight over 4-5 warm up sets for larger compound movements and use 2-3 warm up sets for smaller movements. The heavier the working sets, the more acclimation sets you need. Be sure not to use a weight that brings you to muscular failure or where that slows down the speed of your reps. It’s all about weight accumulation.
I recommend you start with a very light set of 12 reps to get the blood flowing to the muscle, then divide the total reps in every set by about half. For the big moves, it would look like this: 12 reps, 6 reps, 3 reps, 1 rep and for smaller movements, 8 reps, 4 reps, and maybe 2 reps if needed.
Depending on the weight you plan to attack and how you feel, it’s easy to customise your workout by halving your reps in each acclimation set, and then attack the working sets with full force.
Try this proper warm up technique the next time you train. You will have noticeable strength gains the very first time you try it. Enjoy your new personal lifting records and the new found muscle that comes with it.
Example for a Flat Barbell Bench Press Working Set of 102 kgs.
1 sets of 12 reps with the Olympic bar (20 kgs)
1 set of 6 reps with 61 kgs.
1 set of 3 reps with 84 kgs.
1 set of 1 reps with 93 kgs.
3 sets of 4-6 reps with 102 kgs.
By Sean Barker