June 21, 2011–that’s right–the first day of summer. Why bring up summer when spring has only just sprung? Well, as summer inches closer, we are beginning to see racks of swim suits dangling before our eyes. Now it’s time to confront all the comforts we’ve enjoyed this winter as we search for the best way to prepare our bodies for their beach debut. Arms, legs, abs and glutes–each of these beach-essential body parts will be covered in this guide to looking and feeling your best this summer!
Try and do at least one exercise for each muscle group between 4-5 days a week. Remember to perform the exercises slowly for maximum benefit.
Squat (quads, hips, glutes) – 3 sets at 12-15 reps
- Stand with feet hip distance apart with your toes, knees and hips in a straight line.
- Pull your belly button towards your spine and contract your abdominal muscles.
- Slowly lower your body, as though you are sitting in a chair.
- If you can, go down until your butt is in line with your knees (knees at 90 degree angles). If you can’t go down that low, go as low as you can.
- Make sure your knees are behind your toes.
- Keeping the weight on your heels, slowly push your body back to starting position.
Plié Squat (inner thigh) – repeat 3 times without rest
Note: use a dumbbell to increase the level of difficulty
- Stand with your feet about twice shoulder-width apart. Turn your toes out to the sides, keeping them aligned with your knees.
- Squat down, as if you were about to sit in a chair, through a count of 10 seconds.
- Hold for 2 seconds and then push through your heels and return to your starting point
Lunge (quads, glutes) – 4 total reps, alternating legs
Note: make sure that your front knee stays aligned with your ankles, never crossing over your toes, and that it doesn’t bend farther than a 90-degree angle.
- With your back straight, chest up and abs tight, stand with one foot in front of you and the other on the ball of your foot behind you.
- Through a count of 10 seconds, drop your back knee toward the ground.
- When your knee is about 1 inch off the ground, hold for 2 seconds.
- Through a count of 10 seconds, return to starting position.
Bicep Curl/Shoulder Press (biceps, triceps, shoulders) – 12-15 reps, continue until fatigue
- Hold a pair of free weights (should not feel too heavy to lift for first few reps) with palms face up, feet hip-width apart and abs tight.
- Lift the weights toward your shoulders (flexing elbows), turn the palms to face out and continue pushing the weight over your head in a continuous motion.
- Reverse the motion and bring the weight down to your shoulders with palms out, then truning them to fully extend the elbows, bringing arms to the starting position.
Tricep Dips (triceps) – 12-15 reps, continue until fatigue
- Sitting with your hands on the edge of a sturdy bench, fingers pointing toward you, slowly walk your feet out in front of you and take your bottom off the bench.
- Slowly lower and lift your body weight, being sure to fully extend the arm and maintaining perfect posture throughout (do not roll the shoulders in). Whether your knees are bent at 90 degrees (easier) or legs are straight out (harder), be sure to lower yourself straight down (keeping a 1-inch gap between your back and the bench for the entire range of motion) and not in a swinging motion toward your feet.
Deltoid Raise (shoulders) – 2 sets at 10-12 reps
- Hold dumbbells by the side of your legs with arms slightly bent.
- Raise dumbbells toward ceiling while keeping arms slightly bent.
When you pass your shoulders, stop and hold for 1 second.
- Slowly return dumbbells to starting position.
The Bicycle (abs, obliques) – 2 sets of 12-16 reps
- Lie face up on the floor and lace your fingers behind your head.
- Bring the knees in towards the chest and lift the shoulder blades off the ground without pulling on the neck.
- Straighten the left leg out while simultaneously turning the upper body to the right, bringing the left elbow towards the right knee.
- Switch sides, bringing the right elbow towards the left knee.
- Continue alternating sides in a ‘pedaling’ motion.
Vertical Leg Crunch (abs, obliques) – 2 sets of 12-16 reps
- Lie face up on the floor and extend the legs straight up with knees crossed.
- Contract the abs to lift the shoulder blades off the floor, as though reaching your chest towards your feet.
- Keep the legs in a fixed position and imagine bringing your belly button towards your spine at the top of the movement.
- Lower and repeat.
Reverse Crunch (abs, obliques) – 2 sets of 12-16 reps
- Lie on the floor and place hands on the floor or behind the head.
- Bring the knees in towards the chest until they’re bent to 90 degrees, with feet together or crossed.
- Contract the abs to curl the hips off the floor, reaching the legs up towards the ceiling.
- Lower and repeat.
- It’s a very small movement, so try to use your abs to lift your hips rather than swinging your legs, which decreases the benefit to your abdominal muscles.