There are many reasons to love summer. It's the season where you can relax a bit and feel great about how much you've accomplished during the first half of the year. But if you’ve already told yourself “it’s too late,” and “there’s nothing I can do to get in shape now,” it’s time to stop the negative self-talk. This whole-body workout will help you kick-start a new fitness routine and gain more confidence before beach and pool season.
The toning exercises outlined in the workout below use multiple joints at the same time. Squats, for example, work the muscles that cross the hip, knee and ankle joints. These "compound movements" work well without weights, allowing you to use your own body weight for resistance, but they work even faster and more effectively with weights. Weight training is a great way to build muscle that will keep burning calories at rest, says Weight Watchers fitness consultant William Sukala, MS, CSCS.
“Getting ripped and shredded is not so much a function of the weight exercises themselves, but is more a function of simply losing the body fat over the muscle," says Sukala. "Someone who lifts weights will naturally have more muscle tone when the skin pulls tight over the muscle."
If you haven't tried lifting weights yet, now is the perfect time to try. If you’re new to strength-training, use your own body weight for resistance at first, then incorporate dumbbells when you feel ready.
The workout below separates the moves by upper-body and lower-body toning. Try each series below, doing eight to 12 repetitions per move. (The exercise should become difficult by the twelfth rep.) Build up to two or three sets of each exercise when you’re ready.
Sukala recommends squats and lunges to tone up your butt, thighs and calves. For an additional workout, add in hamstring stability ball rolls and calf raises.
Stability ball rolls
Standing calf raises
To tone your top half, Sukala recommends biceps curls, bent-over rows, push-ups or a chest press on the bench, and overhead presses either standing or seated on a stability ball.
Basic dumbbell curls
Push-ups on knees
Chest press on bench with bar
Overhead dumbbell presses
Step It Up For Maximum Success
Want to really maximize calorie burn and build muscle? To step it up, says Sukala, "you can never go wrong with the alternating cardio and weights.” He suggests setting up a circuit-training routine, alternating between weights and cardio while wearing a heart-rate monitor to keep your heart rate up to a fat-burning level.
“I'd say do each cardio segment for anywhere from one to three minutes at 60 percent of estimated max heart rate — if you’re new to exercise — and up to 85 percent estimated maximum heart rate for an experienced exerciser. This alternating program will give anyone a good run for their money,” says Sukala. If you’re at home, try jumping jacks, jumping rope, jogging in place or walking up and down steps for the cardio segments. At the gym, use any of the cardio equipment or jump rope to keep your heart rate up.