By Aparna Mele MD
The warm summer months means shedding layers and showing more skin with tank tops, shorts, and swimsuits. Now is the time to step up your fitness game to get your body summer ready!
Incorporate challenging strength training in your workout. Commit to a full-body strength-training program at least three times a week to burn calories during the workout, boost your metabolism, and burn calories (for up to 24 to 48 hours afterwards!), and develop lean muscles that look and feel strong! Pick exercises that use more than one muscle group such as squats, pushups, rows, and lunges in a circuit to make your workouts most efficient. Try using water bottles as dumbbells. You get the dual benefits of resistance training and hydration, both critical during the summer. Water bottles can be used for a number of toning exercises such as tricep kickbacks, arm circles and overhead presses, and can also add resistance to lunges and squats.
Focus on those glutes and your core. Your butt muscles are the biggest muscles in your body, so working them out is one of the best ways to burn calories and get that tone back to sport your bathing suit with confidence. Do weighted squats, glute bridges, plank kickbacks to tone your rear! Your abdominal core muscles give you your posture and help your body move. Weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function, and saps power from many of the moves you make. Properly building up your core cranks up the power. A strong core also enhances balance and stability and therefore can help prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities. Just standing up taller automatically engages your core muscles. Tuck your hips underneath and tighten up your stomach as if you were going to be punched. Improving your posture will even and instantly make you look thinner, even if you haven’t lost a pound yet! Give both areas extra attention during workouts and make time for exercises that target both areas.
You need nothing else besides your own body weight to get great results. The push up, for example, a very simple exercise performed with your own body weight will help you sculpt sexy summer shoulders and a nice firm midsection. Also pick up the pace! No matter where you are, you can squeeze in some extra cardio. Walk at a faster pace while breathing deeper to increase your heart rate. Do high skips or butt kicks, jump squats or jump rope, climb some stairs!
Pack resistance bands when you travel this summer. They’re light, take up very little space in your bag and can provide several options for toning and resistance training. Also as a psychological challenge, if you pack your gym clothes at the top of your suitcase, it can be a great reminder to hold yourself accountable for a workout when you are travelling!
Hit the beach and take advantage of nature’s biggest pool to get a great workout. Ocean swimming with the waves providing resistance is a fantastic workout. You can even do this easy challenge: see how long you can keep your feet off the ocean floor by treading water. Try three rounds and attempt to last a little longer each time. Challenge yourself by working out in the sand. Exercising in the sand provides an excellent training environment and in certain aspects actually works the body a lot harder than using a hard, flat surface, given the resistance the sand creates.
Even mild dehydration can affect your fitness performance and fat-burning potential, thereby reducing the effectiveness of your workouts. It is vital to drink plenty of water. In fact the best way to rid yourself of excess water weight is to flush your body with water. You should drink at least half your body weight in ounces each day (e.g., a 150-pound woman should drink 75 oz. or the equivalent of about four and a half 16.9 oz. bottled waters a day). Bonus, heavy with the ice! Research has shown drinking ice-cold water causes your body to work harder (i.e., burn more calories) to maintain its ideal core temperature. It is essentially your fat burning fuel!
Summer diets should include natural diuretics that flush your kidneys by enhancing urination and the speed at which fluids pass through your body to help you de-bloat. Natural diuretics include cucumbers, asparagus, lemon, green tea, and any foods with a higher concentration of magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and/or caffeine. It’s a good idea to cut back on processed starchy carbohydrates, which are loaded with extra sodium and preservatives that can contribute to water retention and bloating. Try to eat cleaner and avoid too much packaged foods, instead opting for ample servings of locally sourced fresh fruits and veggies now in season, with lean protein to keep you satiated. Finally, reduce alcohol intake as well to reduce your total calorie intake and set yourself up for a better night’s sleep to energize you for your workout the next day. When you drink, have plenty of water before and after to combat alcohol’s dehydrating effects.
Simple fitness tactics like these will have your body ready for every season. Start now!