Ready to dive into swimsuit season? Self-consciousness about your body can make you dread a time of year that’s supposed to be about fun in the sun. But fear not – we have a plan to help you prepare for the pool.
First, you need to know that cardio alone isn’t the answer. Many people rely on cardio to burn fat, but too much can actually burn muscle instead. Excessive cardio can also increase appetite, plus it doesn’t contribute to a swimsuit-ideal body composition (your muscle-to-fat ratio).
When it comes to transforming your body, high-volume workouts with minimal rest is a great combo to burn some serious fat. Multifunctional exercises like weight lifting and sprinting will burn a greater percentage of fat and boost muscle definition better than cardio alone because they engage multiple joints and muscle groups at the same time. When more muscles are engaged, you expend more energy and burn more calories. Levels of testosterone, lactic acid, and human growth hormone are all increased – and for you, that means more fat loss, better recovery, and support for lifting heavier loads.
1. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
This move works just about every muscle in the body and burns an enormous amount of energy. Prime movers, the largest muscles in the body, are all engaged. RDLs are widely used by trainers to help develop strength and mass in the posterior chain. The motion mimics real-life actions like picking up bags of groceries and lifting kids off the floor. RDLs are also great for building abs because they activate all the muscles in the core.
Reach your hips back and hinge at the hips with your feet shoulder-width apart
Keep the dumbbells close to your legs
Draw your belly button up and in, focusing on keeping a strong core
Maintain a flat back as you hinge forward
2. Bent Over Row (BOR)
This is the best compound exercise for working the lats and posterior chain. BORs train the lats – the largest muscles in the back – at a high intensity and hit the biceps, glutes and back stabilizers at the same time.
Lean forward by hinging at the hips
Use your glutes to help stabilize your back (relaxed glutes will overwork paraspinal muscles)
Maintain a neutral spine and keep your elbows close to your body
At the top position, squeeze your back muscles and hold for a few seconds
3. Bulgarian Split Squats
One of the best booty-building exercises you can do. They trigger your body to release muscle-building testosterone, resulting in a rounder booty. And because this move increases flexibility, the potential for injury is significantly reduced.
Start with light weights and gradually increase
Push yourself up though your heel
Keep your front knee stable; don’t let it turn inward
4. Standing Arnold Press
Schwarzenegger himself created this move by reinventing the overhead press, twisting the palms from facing backward to facing forward. This simple modification targets your front deltoids better than conventional overhead presses.
Hold two dumbbells under your chin
Forearms are perpendicular to the floor, while palms face you
Press the weights up and rotate your elbows back so palms face forward
Don’t lock your elbows at the top position
5. Hip Thrusts
These are fantastic for working the glutes, plus the smaller range of motion means a faster recovery time than traditional squats. Remember to push through your heels, not the balls of your feet, to activate the glutes and hamstrings.
Don’t lift your heels off the floor
Keep your shins and knees vertical
Maintain a forward eye gaze
Reach full hip extension without arching your back (this prevents lumbar hyperextension)
Pause at the top with a big glute squeeze
6. Front Step Ups
Great for leg development and enhancing structural balance. This functional, unilateral, multi-joint movement carries over to many sports and activities of daily living. Front Step Ups are a common exercise for knee injury rehabilitation.
The leg on top of the box does all the work; don’t use the bottom foot for assistance
Keep the toes of your bottom foot dorsiflexed (bent back) to help prevent pushing off the floor
The rear leg must be kept straight
Drive through the heel of the top foot to push yourself up
7. Cross-Body Cable Chop
This is a fully-integrated rotational movement that activates the core, especially the transverse, rectus, and anterior obliques. Working these muscles can help you develop a defined “V taper” shape for the look of a narrower waist.
Draw your belly button into your spine
Keep your arms straight; the longer the lever, the more activation
Use force coming out of the cable and control the movement coming back in toward the cable
Strength training is key to boosting your confidence at the beach because it revs metabolism and improves conditioning. The body can burn up to 70 calories a day with each pound of muscle that’s developed.
Want to get in that swimsuit even faster? Performing any of these one-off exercises will get you great results, but you can take it to the next level by combining them into a full training program.