Ah, summer. One on hand, it’s a great opportunity to be outside, to feel the sun, and to show what you’ve got. But on the other, all too often “what you’ve got” is a few extra pounds from Thanksgiving-Christmas-Valentine’s-Easter, or some lack of muscle from all those days when it was too cold to go out. Plus, busy summer schedules can all wreak havoc on your gym time.
If this sounds like you, then you may need a new approach. Instead of aerobic or spin classes at the gym, or even worse hours on a treadmill, why not try this fun summer shape up workout? Each of the exercises below is targeted to different body areas, and each requires no special equipment or training. Pick whichever ones correspond to your needs, and try slipping in just a few sets throughout the day. It takes up less time than going to the gym, and requires less mental stamina as well. But the results are every bit as impressive!
The basic burpee exercise (named for its founder, Royal H. Burpee really!) begins with a squat, incorporates a pushup, and ends on a standing jump. This combination of exercises is great for your core as well as most of your major muscle groups, and does double duty as both a cardio workout and a fat burning exercise. It can be a little intense, especially for beginners, but that intensity does make it ideal for getting a day’s worth of exercise in only a few minutes. You can easily perform it as a break from sitting at your desk, during commercial breaks while watching TV, or whenever it fits best in your summer-body workout routine.
- To perform this exercise, begin with your feet together.
- Squat and place your hands on the ground about shoulder width apart and just ahead of your feet, then jump your feet back into a pushup position.
- Do one pushup (or as close to a pushup as you can manage there’s no shame in going from your knees if you need), then jump back into your squat, and jump straight up as high as you can.
The squat is another great addition to summer-body workouts. Like burpees, squats target several muscle groups at once, including the lower back, butt, quads (thighs) and hamstrings. Serious weightlifters perform this exercise while holding a barbell, but it can be a good hard workout with nothing more than your own body weight, especially if you push yourself to do them for a few minutes without resting in between.
- To perform a squat, stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, toes pointing slightly outward.
- Try to keep your weight on both feet equally throughout the exercise.
- Keep your back straight and lower yourself down as though you were going to sit in a chair.
- Try to keep your weight in your heels as you go down, and stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Holding your abs tight while you perform the exercise will give you better form and make for a more effective and safer workout, as will not letting your knees extend beyond your toes.
- Hold the pose for just a moment, then straighten in the same way you went down. Repeat.
3. Side Planks
The side plank is another one of those great moves to really shape you up. In addition to working your core and abdominal muscles, this move will help tone your upper arms.
- To begin, get down on the floor as though you were doing a pushup, then roll over onto your side, so your legs are stacked one on top of the other, with your weight resting on the side of your bottom foot.
- Keep your lower arm straight and reach up as high as you can with your upper one.
- Hold the pose for 15 to 60 seconds, then come back down and repeat on the other side.
- Make sure you do this the same number of times on both sides of your body to avoid developing an imbalance.
4. Calf Raises
You’re almost there! The last move in your shape up for summer workout is the calf raise. Like the other exercises on the list, this move doesn’t require any special equipment, but it will work a little more effectively if you have a raised surface to stand on. The bottom step of a staircase would work fine, as would a two-by-four, or even a rolled towel. However, if you really don’t have any kind of ledge, you will still see benefits performing the exercise on flat ground.
- To do it, stand on the surface with your heels hanging off the edge (if there is one).
- For safety’s sake, make sure you have a railing or chair nearby you can grab if you begin to lose your balance.
- Raise yourself onto your tiptoes in a slow, controlled motion, pause for a moment, and then come back down.
- If you're standing on a ledge, continue down until your heels are below the balls of your feet for maximum range.
- This exercise is easier than some of the others at first, but because it goes quickly, you can do quite a few in just a minute or two, and really feel the burn.