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Sand training: nature’s high resistance gym

Sand training: nature’s high resistance gym

Working out in the sand can increase strength and calorie burning while improving motor skills

Sand training helps to increase strength through higher resistance. It also enhances motor skills and increases calorie burning

A common sight in coastal regions includes people, athletes, as well as those in it for recreation, working out or playing games on the beachfront. The fresh air and the feel of the beach stir up the envy quotient in those who live far away from the coast, and whose beach excursion is an annual vacation at best. However, running or sweating it out on the beach is not just about the ambience. There are unique advantages to training on loose sand. Sand training, in fact, is an integral part of the training program for many professional athletes. It can not only be performed at the beach but also on any ground where the soil is loose and hazard free.

Athletes mostly undergo sand training in the preparatory phase (off-season) to boost their performance capacity for the competition phase. High-resistance sand training in the off-season (the time athletes shift their focus from refining their sport-specific skills to improving their strength and functional movement) translates to fluid movements on the field.

Sand training and strength

During sand training, the muscles employed get additional resistance that helps in building strength.

“The person is intended to exert extra effort on their muscles while engaging in sand training due to the higher resistance,” says Amal C Bose, assistant professor of physical education, Sree Sankara College, Thiruvananthapuram, India. “Strength endurance is the capacity to exercise for a longer period without becoming exhausted. A fundamental principle of strength training is progressive overload. The main idea is to gradually increase the difficulty of your workouts and put more strain on your nervous and musculoskeletal systems. It is possible through sand training,” he adds.

Strength is defined as the ability to overcome resistance. It is the basis of sand training, adds Dr Augustine NJ, head of the department of physical education, Government College, Ambalapuzha, Kerala, India. “The person’s leg will likely go inside the sand if they are walking through it. The person is then required to work the muscles in such a way as to overcome the resistance.”

Sand training improves motor skills

Sand exercises can be performed or moulded to fit the intended goal.  “Sand training can improve the motor qualities necessary for a person’s total performance, whether it is force, endurance, speed, coordination or flexibility,” says Dr Augustine. “An individual’s chosen motor quality should serve as the foundation for the workout.”

Other benefits

There is less risk of workout injury during sand training. However, it is not advised for beginners.

“People who have conditioned their body and improved their basic fitness level can effectively do it,” says Dr Augustine.

Bose adds, “Doing sand training without experience can have adverse effects (like strain on the muscles and joints). Injury risk is high while training on synthetic or hard surfaces. Meanwhile, the sand absorbs the force, and there is a lower injury risk on sand or other soft surfaces, for that matter.”

The intensity of the workout increases metabolism, which leads to more fat-burning during workout sessions on the sand.

“Performing the same endurance activity for the same amount of time on sand burns more fat than performing it on the ground,” says Bose.


  • Athletes engage in sand training during the preparatory phase to increase their performance capacity for the competition phase.
  • It increases strength through high resistance. Benefits of sand training include improved motor qualities, lower risk of workout injury and increased calorie burning.
  • It is not suggested for beginners as it can have adverse effects (like muscle and joint strain).

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