Ah, there’s no time like summer. It’s got it all: ballgames, late nights around a bonfire, and staring at the sun at 8:30 PM with complete disbelief. But as we all know, what tops the “Best Things About Summer” list is unquestionably the beach. What could beat enjoying a day in the sun with sand between your toes and an endless ocean to gaze at? Pretty much nothing, according to research. In terms of vacationing, polling shows there’s nowhere we’d rather be than a beach, and that includes visiting family (sorry, mom!).
Monday kicked off the beginning of summer, and If you’re one of those tens of millions of people packing up the sunscreen and boogie boards in the coming months, you want to make sure you’re looking — and feeling — your best. But before you relegate yourself to your ordinary workout in order to achieve this, you should know that some exercises can help muscles get that toned “pop” better than others.
Below are 6 awesome, challenging exercises to make sure your body is looking its best from head to toe when it comes time to show yourself off. And the best part is, you won’t need one dumbbell or piece of gym equipment to do them. These are pure bodyweight exercises — a perfect workout solution when your vacation takes you far away from your normal gym comforts.
Incline Extended ROM Push-Ups
We can all agree that all push-ups are awesome, and if you’re doing them correctly, you can’t go wrong. But as far as maximizing the blood flow to get a great pop in your chest, werecommend incline extended range of motion (ROM) push-ups. The reason is in a normal push-up, if you go down as far as you can, your chest will hit the ground before you reach your full ROM.
In order to set the incline for the ROM push-ups, you’ll need some kind of “equipment”, though we’re using that term loosely, because you can use anything from kettlebells to chairs to even stacks of books. By using this equipment to balance your upper body, you extend your ROM further that you would get from standard push-ups. You also will have more of a balancing challenge than a standard push-up. Try a set of 30 push-ups, which is sure to help you get the blood pumping to your chest.
A classic bodyweight exercise, seated dips are great because they too allow for a maximum ROM, this time primarily benefiting your triceps. Also getting in the mix is your anterior deltoid and pectoralis major, which help stabilize your arms.
Seated dips can be done with anything as simple as a chair on which to balance your upper body. Perform a set of 15 to get a solid pump in your upper arms.
When it comes to walking around the beach in nothing but a pair of floral-patterned swim trunks, no part of the body makes us more uncomfortable than our midsection. Fortunately, I’ve got a plank routine for you that is going to activate your entire core and get those abs and obliques popping.
Begin in a side plank position, laying on your side with your right forearm supporting your entire body weight. You should feel tension in your left oblique. Keeping your hips parallel, lower your hips to the ground and back up. Repeat for thirty seconds. Then, without dropping to the ground, rotate to a standard plank position with both forearms on the floor. Lean forward onto the balls of your feet and, in a controlled motion, rock back and forth. Keep your back straight. You should feel extra tension in your abdominals. Do this for thirty seconds before rotating onto your left forearm to perform the side plank with dips on the other side.
Calf Raises on Elevated Surface
Your lower legs are going to be proudly displayed after these calf raises. For this exercise, you’ll need a solid, elevated surface, like a step or a ledge. Complete twenty calf raises with your toes pointed forward. Remember to always keep a slight bend during these exercises in order to put maximum tension on your calves (keeping your legs completely straight actually takes your calf muscles out of the equation). Lower your heels down for a full range of motion and push up. Don’t bounce up and down. Make slow, deliberate movements and once your calves are raised, hold for two seconds.
When you have completed the standard calf raises, point your toes outward and repeat twenty reps, again holding for two seconds at the top. Try to keep the weight on the outer balls of your feet. This will activate the outer muscles of the calves. Finally, point your toes inward for twenty more reps with a two-second hold, still keeping the weight on the outer balls of your feet. With your toes pointed in, you’ll activate the medial gastrocnemius (the large muscle on the inside of your leg).
Pulsing Squats with Pivot
You didn’t really think we were going to skip the upper legs just because they’ll be covered by some swim trunks, did you?
Now, you probably know squats are ideal for working the quads, glutes and thighs in one exercise. But there’s a way to optimize your time so you can knock out a bunch of squats in a short amount of time. Begin in the starting position for a squat with your legs slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Drop down for a squat, keeping your back parallel to your shins and making sure your knees do not pass your toes. Once fully lowered, raise back up 6-12 inches so that you stay in squat position. Repeat five times in a controlled pulsing motion. Then, use your right foot to pivot 180 degrees. The trick here is to stay in the squat position during the pivot, so imagine someone were swinging a broomstick just above your head. Repeat for another five pulsing squats and then pivot on your left foot. Complete twenty-five total squat pulses.
Here’s a great example of an exercise that can give you a solid workout in several muscle groups. The T push-up is great for activating the triceps, chest and deltoids, as well as the abs and obliques.
To perform the exercise, begin in standard push-up position with your feet together. Complete one push-up, then rotate your body to the right side. As you do this, slowly raise your left arm up so that it’s straight up in the air, perpendicular to your body. Hold for one second. As you do this, your right arm will be straight and completely supporting your upper body. Return to the starting position, perform another push-up, and repeat on the other side. Complete eight on each side.