Learn how to turn a relaxing hammock into a sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping machine, then check out our other tips for staying fit while traveling and our complete guide to natural outdoor workouts (a.k.a. the whole food diet of exercise).
While on a beach vacation on Colombia’s remote Pacific Coast, Chris and I transformed a symbol of leisure into a sweaty, muscle-pumping machine. We created an all-body hammock workout.
It turns out hammocks are just as good for exhausting your muscles as they are for relaxing!
And if you think hammock workouts are so crazy nobody would try them, think again. They’re already a thing. So join the mayhem and try some of the following hammock exercises on your next beach vacation.
Hammock Workout Quick Info
- Duration: Ideally do 3-5 sets of 6-8 repetitions of each exercise. If you do all 8 hammock exercises, you’ll be looking at around 45 minutes (and a very sore body). Choose any 4 exercises and combine them with a beach run and you’re golden.
- Difficulty: All-levels. Choose the exercises and modifications that you are most comfortable with.
- What You Need: A hammock, yourself, and hopefully some form of clothing or bathing suit.
- Pros: It’s fun, low impact and cheap. Beer tastes better after.
- Cons: You might get some (jealous) stares and never look at hammocks the same way again.
Hammock Workout Exercises
1. Glute Bridge
This is an advanced version of a glute activation exercise known as the glute bridge. The hammock will make it more difficult for you to stabilize and will engage more of your core and hamstring muscles.
To begin, lie on the ground with your legs bent and your feet directly under the middle of the hammock hanging overhead. Lift one foot and place it on the hammock, and then the other. Once you’re stabilized, lift your butt off the floor and raise your hips up. Make sure you squeeze your butt at the top and slowly come back down and repeat.
To make the exercise twice as hard, do it with one leg on the hammock and the other raised in the air.
Works: Core, hamstrings, glutes
Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate
2. Hammock Kick-Outs
Sitting on the ground (or beach), place both your feet on the hammock, then walk your hands back until your legs are straight and pick your whole body off the ground so you’re in an upwards-facing plank. Bending your legs, draw your feet towards your chest as far as possible into a tuck position. Your hands should be the only part of your body to touch the ground the entire time (i.e. keep your butt in the air). Extend back to the starting position and repeat.
Works: Shoulders, Hamstrings, Glutes, Core
3. The Standing Fall Out
Stand about two or three feet back from the hammock and grab the middle of it with your hands and feet shoulder-width in an upright push-up position. Holding your core tight, extend your arms overhead until they are straight overhead, meaning your body is completely straight in a pencil position. Hold for a second and come back to your starting position. Do not bend your knees at any point; keep your legs completely straight.
To make it easier, move your feet closer to the hammock. Alternatively, a more difficult position is to stand further away.
Works: Core, shoulders, chest
4. Swinging Crunches
This is a difficult move and should only be completed if you have a strong core and good balance. Start by getting into the hammock so your body is perpendicular to the hammock and tucking into a ball. You can hold onto the sides of the hammock until you are stable. Once you’re somewhat stable, let go of the hammock, slowly straighten your body as much as possible, then crunch back up to the starting position.
To make this exercise easier, you can continue holding onto the hammock the whole time. And the easiest variation is leaving your feet on the ground.
Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
5. Hammock Taps
To begin this hammock workout exercise, start facing the hammock in a pushup position with your hands about 1 foot away. Complete one full push-up (on your knees if a full push-up is too hard) and once at the top, extend one arm forward to touch the hammock in front. Do another push-up and tap with the opposite arm.
Works: Chest, Shoulders, Core
Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
6. Unstable Bulgarian Split Squats
Bulgarian squats are one-legged squats that can be done just about anywhere. With or without weight, they are a great way to build leg strength and power. With the hammock, your body will be fighting to stay balanced on one leg making this exercise even harder.
Begin by placing the top of one foot on the hammock and the other foot about 2-3 feet in front, depending on your height. Start the exercise by dropping down into a lunge position until your leg is bent at a 90-degree angle. Pause for a second, then smoothly push off your front, grounded foot to rise back up into your starting position.
Throughout the entire movement, try to keep your torso as vertical as possible.
Too easy? Add a small hop at the top to turn this into an explosive exercise. And if it’s too hard you can ask a friend to help you with balance and the push-up.
Works: Glutes + Legs
7. Frog Plank
This is a common TRX exercise that can be done using a swing, or, you guessed it, a hammock.
Begin in a plank position with the front of your ankles resting in the center of the hammock and your hands flat on the ground a couple feet in front. In a controlled manner, bring your knees towards your chest while maintaining a tight core, and release back into a strong plank position.
To make this more difficult, instead of tucking keep your legs straight and bend into a pike position, as Kim demonstrates in the second half of the video below. It’s even harder if you pick one leg up off the hammock and keep it hovering the whole time.
Works: Core, Shoulders
Difficulty: Beginner to Difficult
8. Pistol Squats
Stand near one of the ends of the hammock, grab the hammock with both hands, and lift one foot off the ground, extending it straight out in front of you. In a very controlled manner and using the hammock as an aid, do a one-legged squat. Go as far as you can go down and come back up, again using your arms to pull the hammock and help you as needed. Either alternate legs (easier) or do 6-8 reps of one leg then switch to the other.
The less you use your arms and the hammock for support, the more difficult this exercise becomes.
Works: Hamstrings, Glutes, Quads
Difficulty: Intermediate to Difficult
Get in an upside-down push-up position with your hands holding the hammock at shoulder’s width apart, legs the same width, and your body straight and between a 45-degree angle (easiest) and parallel (hardest) to the ground. Clench your butt, keep your core tight, and use your back and arm muscles to pull your torso towards the hammock, until your chest touches it. Focus on keeping your legs straight and using only your upper body to pull yourself up. Hold for a half second at the top, then return to the starting position.
For extra difficulty, do these rows one-arm at a time, as Chris shows in the second part of the video
Works: Back, core
10. Mix It Up
Use the hammock and combine your favorite exercises such as burpees and tuck jumps, as shown in the video below.