Inch Your Way To Summer

 

When the idea of summer comes to mind-- BBQs, trips to the beach, and plenty of pool time comes to mind. Getting that summer bod is what a lot of us are after, especially as spring subsides or as the rainy season draws to a close for those of us living in the tropics. A massive reminder of that New Year’s resolution (which we might not have jumped on quite yet)! Summer parties, boat parties, and all the festivities which come along with summer is what might daunt us, but don’t let the change in season scare you.

If you don’t have access to a gym or any equipment, here are some of my favorite moves to get myself in the groove for summer (no gym memberships or equipment necessary)!

Exercise 1: Burpees! (YAY!) When chasing that beach ready body, burpees are my go to! It’s an all body workout that fires up a lot of the beach baring essentials.

Do 4 sets of 12-20 burpees with 20 second rests in between each set. Tip: If you don’t have a stopwatch, count up to 20 slowly (“One mississippi, two mississippi…”)

Choose according to your fitness level. Remember quality over difficulty is key here! It’s more important to get that posture right versus completing the more difficult version with faulty posture.

1. Start with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down and plant your palms on the ground around shoulder width apart. Then jump backwards with both feet to a straight arm plank. Remember to keep the core engaged, spine straight, and clench the butt to keep the hips tucked in. Avoid arching the back at all times!

2. Lower the body to the ground, as you would in a push up. Tuck the elbows in and breathe in as you lower down. Imagine you had to hold paper in between your armpits. Squeeze those armpits tight and don’t let those elbows flare!

3. Right before your chest touches the ground, breathe out and push back up to a straight arm plank.

4. Finally, reverse the motion. Jump both feet in towards the arms into the starting squat position. Then jump upwards with both arms in the air and “wave it like you just don’t care!” Remember to land with soft knees! Absorb as much of the downward momentum by following through the motion and allowing the knees to bend into the starting squatted position.

If this is too difficult, follow the following steps (as seen below). Step 1 is the same as above.

2. Lower the body all the way to the ground. Rest the chest, thighs, and body onto the ground and release the toes to straighten up.

3. Then tuck the toes back in and jump both feet in towards the arms into the starting squat position. From there, jump upwards with both arms in the air. Remember to land with soft knees. Follow the momentum through and allow the knees to bend into the starting squatted position.

If both options are too difficult, instead of jumping with both feet together, move the feet backwards one at a time.

Exercise 2: Plank + Spiderman Plank Crunch which is a variation of the classic plank. I am a massive fan of plank variations because they’re core burners that you feel immediately.

Do 4 rounds of each exercise. For the plank, slowly count to 30 (“one mississippi, two mississippi...”). Then do 12-20  spiderman plank crunches. One right and left leg crunch counts as 1 rep. 1 round counts as 1 set of 30 second plank and 12-20 spiderman plank crunches. Take a 20 second rest between each round. You’ll end up doing 4 sets of 30 second planks and 4 sets of 12-20 spiderman plank crunches (for each leg).

1a. For the plank, start with a push up position. Making sure the hands are in line with the shoulders. Bend the elbows into a 90 degree angle. Rest the forearms parallel to each other on the ground with the palms facing the ground and fingers spread out wide. Remember to keep the elbows hugged in.

1b. Look down in between the arms with the head and spine straight. Keep the core and butt engaged, to make sure the hips is tucked in.

2a. For the spiderman plank crunch, remain in the plank position. Move the right knee towards the right elbow, then repeat the same move on the other leg. Keep repeating these movements until the 30 seconds are up! Remember to keep the non-moving leg engaged, along with the core and hip tucked in!

If this is too much, straighten up the arms into a straight arm plank and complete the same crunch motion (as seen below). Alternate option:

Exercise 3: Single Leg Bench Step Up is a classic to get the tush and hammies fired up.  

Do 4 sets of 15-30 single leg step ups for each leg. Take a 20 second rest in between each set. You’ll end up doing 4 sets of 15-30 reps for each leg.  

1. Place one foot on the bench. Make sure to place the whole foot on the bench without any overlap over the edge of the bench. Starting with one foot on the bench, look straight ahead with the back straight. Keep the weight on the heels and step up. Let the other foot hang behind. Avoid pushing off the resting foot when stepping up.

EXERCISE 4: Squat Jumps & Crab Walks are a mean tag team that’ll help get those legs and bottom ready for those sexy summer shorts.

Do 4 sets of 5 rounds with 2 squat jumps (1 squat jump on each side) and 4-6 steps in between. Moving from one side to the other counts as 1 round. Rest for 30 seconds in between each round.

1. Stand with the feet shoulder width apart. Squat down with the back straight and weight on the heels. Making sure the knees do not go over the toes. Spring up to a full jump with both feet extended and both arms swinging down. Land back to the ground on soft knees.

2. Stay in a lowered squatted position and start to move laterally from one side to the other. Start with the inside feet and take 4-6 steps in between. Then repeat the squat jump. Walk back in the same squatted position to the opposite side and repeat the jump. Avoid standing up. Push through the burn!

EXERCISE 5: Push Ups + High Plank Lateral Shuffles are great preparation for those shoulder bearing summer tops.

Do 4 sets of 4 rounds with push-ups at each side and 4-6 steps in between. Moving from one side to the other counts as 1 round. Rest for 30 seconds in between each round.

1. Start in a pushup position with the back straight, arms shoulder width apart, hands in line with the shoulder, and palms firmly planted on the ground with fingers spread out wide.

2. Lower the body down to the ground and hug the elbows in (making sure they do not wing out). Right before the chest touches the ground, push back up into a straight arm plank position.

3. Look straight down to help keep the head aligned to a straight spine. Once back up, start to move the hands and feet laterally. Move one feet first, followed by the hand on the same side. Repeat for 4-6 steps before doing a pushup at the other side, then move back the other direction. Keep moving until time is up.

For an easier option, eliminate the push-up from the sets. For a challenge, increase the number of push-ups by 1 each time you reach a side.

EXERCISE 6: Bench Dips are a friend to the skinny straps and shoulder revealing tops popular in the summer.

Do 4 rounds of 15-25 bench dips. Rest for 20 seconds in between each round. The farther the feet the harder the exercise.

1. Start seated on the bench with the back straight with both feet flat on the ground and hip width apart. Hold on to the side of the bench with palms flat on the bench and fingers hanging onto the side. Start to move the butt off the bench by walking the feet forward slowly until the desired distance is achieved. Note: The straighter the leg the more difficult the movement. If you’re going for the more difficult version, with legs straight, then rest on the heels with the toes pointing up.

2. Look straight ahead and avoid looking down. Keep the weight on the heels and start to lower the body down to the ground. Maintain a flat back throughout and do not bend over.

3. Finally, push back up right before your tush kisses the ground.

Whether you’re home or on the go, these moves will help you inch closer to that beach ready body.

 

What Happened When I Added Weights

 

Circuits have always been my go to because there’s a level of satisfaction to completing a circuit. The speed of circuits keeps me engaged, the level of exertion required is addictive, and the versatility keeps me entertained time and time again. What changed everything for me was when I started to incorporate heavier weights into my circuits.

I remember my first day using weights. It was in a circuited class format, at a studio called F45 (where I've recently joined their team of trainers). At first I was intimidated because my preference is for a lean body and not a bulky body. My fear was grounded in my past of being pretty bulky (I wish I had a picture to show, but I didn’t really take that many back then). Having to buy a size up because my arms or thighs couldn’t fit in wasn’t fun, , so my solution was to avoid heavy weights. (Don’t get me wrong, some women prefer a more muscular physique, but as it comes down to preference, my preference is for a leaner body build).

In the beginning, what kept me coming back to F45 was the fact that this was circuited group training, which means I’m able to continue to do circuits but with friends and other people around me. I remember how hesitant I was to grab the heavy weights in the beginning, but what happened a few weeks after is something I continue to testify about today. Weighted circuits is what transformed my physique and I am forever an advocate for using weights. (I am not about piling on heavy weights just to prove the number I can hold, but what I am talking about is a gradual increase in the weights I use in order to constantly challenge myself and increase my athletic performance).

A bit of background on me, I’ve always been an athletic individual. Playing sports and staying active throughout my life has always been part of my lifestyle. Having an athletic physique is not something new. What F45 helped me achieve is a stronger but leaner figure. (Of course diet plays a role, but I’ve always been a relatively healthy eater, so in my case I know diet wasn’t the differentiator).

In all the years I’ve been training, I always had a problem with looking bulky. In part because I am what most will call a petite figure. Any gain in mass or muscle is therefore quite evident on my figure. I was impressed because in the past, the more I trained the bulkier I looked and the bulkier I became the more awkward my clothes fitted (I don’t know how anyone else feels about this, but having to buy a size up just because my arms or thighs couldn’t fit in the clothes was a personal fashion nightmare). Another gain from training at F45 was seeing changes! I had hit a plateau in my training before joining F45, where results in my physique stagnated and improvements slowed. It was to my delight to find something which actually transformed my body in a new way!

What made the difference at F45 was the combination of moderate to high heart rates, the continuity of the work to rest periods, and the consistent use of weights and resistance (of course). Circuits are about sustaining a level of intensity throughout. Resistance and weights is what helps to increase the challenge of the movements, which otherwise would be hard to achieve without.

What I hadn’t thought about before was how weights and resistance used in a circuit format equates to training for muscle endurance versus muscle hypertrophy. Training for muscle hypertrophy (or bulking) is what I had previously done when using weights. It involved low repetitions, longer rest periods, and therefore relatively low heart rates. I finally realize it wasn’t about the weights, rather it was about how I was using the weights which left me bulky before. The combination I am accustomed to now is where the magic happens! Circuited weight and functional training is where it’s at!

Read more about F45 and about its rapid growth as one of the world’s leading fitness franchises.