Summer is finally here, which means lots of time spent outdoors. If you’re lucky, this includes a lot of beach or pool time. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you want to be in shape and looking good for all that swimsuit time. The best way to do this is through healthy diet and exercise, helping you to shed some winter weight and feel better all at the same time!

Many of us want to get that summer body, but don’t know where to begin. There are so many exercises, so how do you choose? This article will not only give you instructions on how to conduct your workouts, but also some specific exercises that you can use to start your summer transformation!

The Basics

The most important part of getting into shape is doing so in a healthy manner. You don’t want to push your body to go faster than it’s supposed to go. You also need to remember to include different aspects to your workout. Many people operate under the misconception that the best way to lose weight is cardio day in and day out. Or for those that focus on weights, that you should go to the gym every day and push yourself to the breaking point. Neither of these is true.

The best types of workouts that will help you to gain muscle and lose fat are a combination of cardio and weightlifting done in a controlled manner. If you push too hard too fast, you are likely to get injured, which can set back your timeline.

Exercises

Workouts should ideally be varied every three weeks or so, as this is the amount of time it takes for your body to get used to a workout. When this happens, it means that it stops burning as many calories and it doesn’t push your metabolism to work harder. Within these three weeks, you should vary the muscle groups on a daily basis. That means you’re not going to the gym and heavy lifting for your arms and legs. Instead, have an arms day and a legs day, so some of your body gets to rest. Mix in cardio during your workouts, and really focus on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to keep your heart rate up and your body working. Here are a few exercises to get you started!

Arms

  • Bench Press: When many people think weights, they think of bench pressing. When doing a bench, always use clamps on the end of the bar to keep the weights on, just in case you shift during the motion, as it is a serious safety risk if the weights fall off the bar. Keep your hands slightly wider than shoulder length apart, and slowly lower the bar to just above your chest before pressing up again. You should also use a spotter for higher weights, just in case you need help on that last push through.
  • Barbell Bent-Over Row: The barbell should be placed in front of you. In order to do this exercise, you will pick up the bar, bend your knees slightly, and hinge forward at the hips about 45 degrees so the bar hangs below your torso. Keep your back straight. Then bring the bar to your chest slowly, and back down again.

Legs

  • Dumbbell Sumo Squat: Hold a heavy dumbbell with both hands in a vertical position and let it hang in front of you. Then, spread your legs with toes pointed slightly out, and squat down, pushing your hips and butt back to get as low as possible. Once the other end of the dumbbell hits the ground, come back up. Be sure you are not hunching over to touch the dumbbell to the ground, keep your back straight.
  • Dumbbell Step Up: You can use a box or a bench for this exercise, depending on how challenging you want it to be. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and put one foot on the box or bench in front of you. Then drive up through your higher foot, bringing yourself up onto the box. Get back down slowly and do it again. Then switch feet.

Full Body

For those that want some leaner muscle and are not looking to use really heavy weights, you can do full body exercises every other day that are not too straining. This means that you get to work various parts of the body, without risk of injury. Here are a few examples:

  • Split-Stance Bent-Over Row: Similar to the bent-over row mentioned above, except you instead start in a high lunge position with dumbbells. You still are bent 45 degrees forward, and by alternating sides when bringing up the dumbbells, you work your core and lower back in addition to your arms and legs.
  • Dumbbell Rotational Lunge: Hold a dumbbell with arms outstretched at shoulder height. Bring your left leg backwards into a lunch position and bring the dumbbell down and over to touch your right hip. Come back to standing, then do the same thing with your right leg and left hip. Keep your torso facing forward so your core has to work extra hard.

Mix and match these exercises with others that you find useful to create a summer workout plan that men and women can both benefit from and enjoy. Add in some jump rope or stationary biking between sets to increase cardio, and be sure to add core a few times a week to ensure a stable base. With these exercises, you’ll be happy, healthy and summer-ready in no time at all!