Let's get something straight: the only things you actually need to look "acceptable" on the beach this summer are a bathing suit, a towel, and lots of sunscreen. Please don't forget the sunscreen. Maybe throw in a couple of magazines, an oversized umbrella, and a beach game for good measure, and you'll look like a beach-goin' pro. My work here is done.
But look, I get it. It's one thing to look "acceptable" while kickin' it in the sun, and another to look exceptional. (Who doesn't want to look exceptional?!)
Sadly, I can't promise major miracles if you've waited until a week before your vacation to think about improving your fitness. What I can promise is the most exceptional body possible based on the amount of time you've allotted before your beach strip-down. Here's your game plan:
We're going to keep things simple. Follow this 40-minute circuit workout three to four days a week leading up to your beach trip. If 40 minutes is too much to handle, each circuit lasts 10 minutes -- try breaking it up into two 20-minute circuits you do when you have free time, or simply complete as many circuits as you can. If that means you do a single 10-minute circuit one day? Great. The point is to do something.
Perform each exercise for 50 seconds followed by a 10-second rest before moving to the next exercise. After performing all nine exercises back-to-back, rest for 60 seconds. That's your 10-minute circuit. Aim to complete four total rounds for a 40-minute routine.
Equipment: A set of dumbbells, a timer, and a sturdy bench or chair
Stand facing a bench or sturdy chair and step up and down from the chair at a steady pace, leading with one leg for 25 seconds, then leading with the opposite leg for the remaining 25 seconds. Keep your abs engaged throughout.
Start in a high push-up position on the ground, supported on your palms and the balls of your feet. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand, directly below your shoulders. Maintaining this high push-up position, shift your weight slightly to the right and lift the left dumbbell from the ground, squeezing your shoulder blade as you draw the dumbbell toward your chest. Reverse the movement and return the dumbbell to the ground, then shift your weight to the left, this time rowing the right dumbbell up to your chest. Continue alternating sides for the duration of the exercise. If maintaining a high push-up is too hard, drop your knees to the ground and continue the exercise while in a modified push-up position.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart, a dumbbell in each hand positioned at your shoulders, your palms facing inward. Press your hips back and bend your knees as you lower your glutes toward the ground. When your knees are at or just below a 90-degree angle, reverse the movement and press through your heels to return to standing. As you stand up, press your arms straight up, reaching the dumbbells over your head, extending your elbows. Lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders and continue.
Start in a high push-up position on the ground, supported on your palms and the balls of your feet. Make sure your hips, abs, low back, and shoulders are engaged to help you maintain a straight line from head to heels. From this position, hop both feet up into the air, spreading them wide so they land wider than shoulder-distance apart. Immediately hop them back into the air, bringing them together so they land beside each other. Continue this out-and-in hopping action with your legs, as if doing jumping jacks in a plank position.
Bulgarian split squats
Stand about a foot or two in front of a sturdy bench or chair, facing away. Bend your right knee, placing the top of your right foot on the bench. Keeping your core tight and engaged, bend both knees as if lunging as you reach your hands toward the ground on either side of your left foot. From the lowest position, either press through your front heel and return to standing, or powerfully press through your front foot to jump up into the air before landing softly on your left foot, knee and hip slightly bent to absorb impact.
Perform 25 seconds of Bulgarian split squats on your left leg before switching sides and performing 25 seconds on your right leg.
You know the drill. Start in a high push-up position supported on your hands and the balls of your feet. Keep your abs engaged so your body forms a straight line from heels to head. Bend both elbows back at a 45-degree angle from your body, lowering your chest toward the ground. When you're a few inches from touching down, reverse the movement and press back to the starting position.
Walking lunge and curl
Start standing, feet hip-distance apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Take a step forward with your right foot, planting your heel. Bend both knees and lower your back knee toward the ground, keeping your torso upright and centered between your legs. As you lower yourself into the lunge, curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders, keeping your upper arms fixed to your sides.
From the lowest point of the lunge, press through your front heel and the ball of your back foot, stepping your left foot forward and past your right foot. As you stand up, lower the dumbbells back to your sides. Plant your left heel on the ground and perform a lunge curl to the opposite side. Continue for the duration of the exercise
Start on your hands and knees on the ground, as if you were going to crawl like a baby. But don't actually do that, that would be weird.
From this hands-and-knees position, press through your palms and the balls of your feet and lift your knees from the ground. Now crawl forward, taking alternating steps with your hands and feet for about 10 paces before reversing the direction of the crawl, crawling backward to the starting position. Continue this forward-backward crawl for the duration of the exercise. Don't allow your knees to touch the ground and try to keep your hips low and your abs engaged.
Sit on the ground, your knees bent, heels planted, and your torso leaned back at a 90-degree angle. If you'd like, you can hold a dumbbell in both hands at your navel. Keeping your hips steady and your abs engaged, twist your torso to the right as far as you can, then twist back, passing the center position to twist to the left as far as you can. Keep this movement controlled and continue twisting to the right, then left for the duration of the exercise.
I'm going to keep things super simple and boil your nutrition tips down to just two. And they both have to do with drinking.
1. Drink more water. Drink it constantly. Just sip at a water bottle all day long. Keep it fresh by opting for fruit-infused or sparkling varieties. Water keeps you hydrated, helps stave off false hunger pangs, keeps your metabolism revving at its optimum level, and keeps your mouth occupied. All good things.
2. Don't drink your calories. I know you've heard it before, but if a beach trip is on the horizon, now is not the time to consume a full day's worth of calories in liquid form. A 500-calorie coffee in the morning and a 500-calorie margarita at night, bookending your well-meaning juices, full-fat dairy, and (gasp!) soft drinks sprinkled throughout the day, do not a happy body make. Liquid calories don't fill you up, which means you're still going to end up with the munchies. Stick to water (see tip #1), black coffee, and plain tea.
Of course there are lots of other ways you can adjust your diet to maximize results leading up to a beach trip, but if you've waited this long, there's certainly no sense in starving yourself now. And frankly, who wants to be hangry when heading to the beach? Keep eating, focus on lots of fruits and veggies, and think of all the fun you'll have playing in the water.
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