Tone Your Whole Body for Summer

Firm up for shorts-and-swimsuit season with these key toning moves.
Published June 5, 2016

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.

Lower-Body Toning
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.

Basic squats
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Inhale and slowly bend at the knees and hips until your rear end is at chair level, keeping your head up and back straight, while raising your arms to shoulder level. Return to the starting position, exhaling as you go.

Stand with both feet together. Inhale and step forward into a lunge position, keeping the knee of your front leg centred over top of the ankle. Drop your rear knee straight down to the ground. Return to the starting position by straightening your back leg and pushing up from the heel of your front foot, exhaling as you go. Repeat with other leg.

Stability ball rolls
Lie on your back with your arms at your sides for stability. Place your heels on the top of a stability ball and press into the ball with your feet. Slowly pull the ball toward your buttocks, exhaling as you go. Inhale as you return to the starting position.

Standing calf raises
Stand on a step so that you are positioned on the balls of your feet. Hold on to a chair or machine for support. Lower your heels until you feel a stretch in the calf muscles. Inhale and then exhale as you push up onto your toes as high as possible, keeping your knees straight. Inhale as you slowly return to the starting position.
Upper-Body Trimming
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
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand at waist level, with your palms facing forward. Exhale and curl the weights upward, keeping your elbows close to your sides. Inhale as you return your arms to the starting position.

Bent-over rows
Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and back straight. Slightly bend at the knees and waist so that you are leaning forward approximately 45 degrees with arms extended toward the floor. Exhale while pulling your arms back and hands up toward your stomach, keeping elbows close to your body. Inhale as you return your arms to the starting position. Add dumbbells when you are comfortable with the motion.

Push-ups on knees
Kneel on a mat and walk your hands out until they are directly under your shoulders, keeping your knees together. Keeping your back straight and knees on the floor, press your chest down toward the mat, bending your elbows and inhaling as you go. Exhale as you slowly press your body back up to the starting position.

Chest press on bench with bar
Lay flat on your back on a bench with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Grip the bar with your hands approximately shoulder-width apart or a bit wider. Let the bar rest on your chest. Inhale and then exhale as you press the bar upwards. Your arms may wing out to the side slightly; this is normal giving your grip width. Inhale as you slowly return to the starting position.

Overhead dumbbell presses
Sit in a chair with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, just above your thighs. Raise the dumbbells to shoulder level and slowly press them overhead, exhaling as you go. Inhale as you lower your arms back to shoulder level.

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.