Fit Tips for Spring and Summer

With spring break right around the corner and as the warmer weather approaches, your thoughts shift toward becoming more active and fit for summer.  Whether you want to feel confident in your bikini for the trip you booked over summer or tone up for beach season, it’s time you start doing something about it.  More importantly, you want to start forming healthy habits that will make you feel better about yourself.  It’s normal for people to gain a few extra pounds in the cold, long winter from relying on warm foods for comfort and getting away with it by hiding under thick layers and oversized sweaters.  However, it’s now time that you shed some weight off from your winter coat and brace yourself for less layers in the warmer weather to come! 

When it comes to maintaining your weight, following a healthy diet is pretty self-explanatory.  A healthy eating plan consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, and low-fat dairy.  In order to make sure you are staying within your daily calorie needs, making a food diary is a great way to keep track of your eating habits.  Studies have shown that when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, what you eat is more important, proving the 80% diet, 20% exercise rule to be true. 

 

Although diet counts as a large part of maintaining a healthy weight, exercise goes hand-and-hand in improving your overall well-being.  Sometimes it’s difficult to find time in the day to workout and people often push it aside, especially after a long day of school or work.  Or sometimes people just don’t know enough about which exercises are most effective.  To provide you with ideas, listed below are some of the best workouts to help tone and strengthen your body fast.  A successful exercise plan should include cardio, strength training and flexibility workouts.

 

Cardio

In order to lose weight, burn fat and improve your overall health, cardio is a must.  It is important to choose a cardio workout that you enjoy doing and include variations to avoid boredom.  The great thing about cardio is that there are a variety of exercises to choose from.

Running is one of the best ways to burn the most calories in a short amount of time.  Personal training expert Jillian Michaels explains how when you run, you place relatively extreme stresses on your body that promote more calorie and weight loss than other aerobic activities.  However, these stresses can also increase your risk for injury, so it is important to take breaks and stretch after runs.  Other forms of cardio include jump rope, kickboxing, swimming, biking, and walking.  One of the most recent workout trends, spinning, has become a popular form of cardio that helps slim and tone your body.  Depending on your experience level and the intensity of your workout, you should aim between 3-5 days of cardio.

 

Strength Training

When it comes to losing weight, strength training is just as important as cardio.  From lifting weights, you develop lean muscle tissue that raises your metabolism and reduces body fat.  Listed below are some ideas on effective strength training exercises:

1. Weighted Squat Overhead Press

Hold 3-5 pound weights in each hand as you bend down to a squat position.  Don’t let your knees past your toes and hold for a moment, then push through heels to stand up, pressing weights overhead.  For max results, do 3 sets of 15 reps.

2. Step-Up Bicep Curl

Stand with one foot up on a sturdy bench or chair, with 3-5 pound weights in each hand.  Placing weight onto your elevated foot, lift to stand up, raising your opposite foot so that it’s parallel to the floor.  At the same time, curl your weights toward your shoulder.  Return to starting position.  (3 X 15 reps, each leg)    

3. Weighted Lunges

Lunge as you typically would, but with 3-5 pound weights in each hand.  Curl the weight (opposite to the leg extended in front of you) toward your shoulder, then return to standing position.  You can even try this doing reverse lunges…you’ll be sure to feel the burn in your legs! (3 X 15 reps, each leg)

4. Weighted Bent Leg Jackknifes (my personal favorite)

Lie down on your back holding a weight above your head with both hands, legs extended.  In one fluid motion, lift your hands toward your legs and bend your legs toward your chest, squeezing your abs in tightly.  Slowly release the weight and legs outwards.  Be sure to keep your abs engaged the whole time. (3 X 15 reps)

Many of these exercises target the quadriceps, hamstrings, abs and shoulders.  There are other strength training exercises you can do that don’t include weights, including push-ups and planks.  Search weight-training exercises online for more ideas.

 

Flexibility

Although stretching is often times the most overlooked exercise, it is vital for recovery and preventing injury.  The best time to stretch your muscles is right after you workout when they are warm.  You should stretch for a minimum of 2-3 days a week, making sure to hold each stretch for about 15-30 seconds.  Yoga workouts are a great way to increase flexibility, build endurance and promote relaxation.  Pilates can also help increase your flexibility, as well as your core strength and stability. 

By combining cardio, strength training and flexibility workouts in addition to following a healthy diet, you will see results in no time.  If your New Year’s resolution didn’t pan out so well, let the spring be your new incentive toward becoming more fit.  However, be careful not to get too caught up on how you want to look, rather focus your fitness goal more on how you want to feel.  For in the end, having confidence and achieving body peace are what matter most.