How to Get in Shape For Spring Break: Your 3-Week Plan

The countdown to spring break has begun. Stores are advertising all things beachy to get us in the mood for exotic vacations. Bikini-clad mannequins grace storefront displays. The only problem? Your body needs some tough love.  Prepare to don your bikini proudly with Her Campus’s 3-week tone up calendar, courtesy of Evie Oregon, M.S., Kinesiology instructor at Michigan State University, Ross Sherman, Ph.D, exercise science professor at Grand Valley State University, and Larissa True, M.S., Doctoral student in Kinesiology at Michigan State University and certified personal trainer. 

Getting started...

What exactly will these three weeks entail? You’ll be doing a mix of cardio and strength training. Oregon says, “I would prescribe a 3 week plan that has you working out 5 out of the 7 days in a week and that implements 2-3 lifting sessions a week, cardio every day varying in intensity level between light and moderate for a minimum of 30 minutes but no longer than 70 minutes."

Why both? “The cardio will not only help to torch calories, but can also help to alleviate sore muscles caused by lifting weights,” True adds. Weight training helps build strength and prevents injuries.
 
Three weeks isn’t a lot of time, so you have to commit if you want a toned spring break body. “One day can really throw you off,” Oregon warns, “so good time management is crucial.”
 
Get your spring break bod with this plan!

Week 1

Mantra: “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.”

Sunday: day off, but make it a goal to do something that makes you break a sweat at least once

Monday: 30 minutes cardio

- Arm exercises: 3 sets of 12 with 3-5 lb. weights. 

  • Tricep Extension: With a weight in both hands, lift the hands above the head and then, keeping the elbows in close to the ears, bend at the elbow and lower the weight down behind your head.
  • 3 sets of 12 bicep curls (using the “slow burn” technique explained below)
  • Pushups
  • Shoulder presses (explained throughout the article) 

- Ab exercises:

  • Plank—Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Crunches: 12 center crunches, 12 to the left, 12 to the right. Repeat 2 more times. (Try doing them on a stability ball for a more intense ab workout) 

- Leg exercises:

  • Forward lunges: 12 forward lunges on your right leg. 12 forward lunges on your left leg. 10 squats.
  • Wall sits: “Sit” for 30 seconds on the wall, making sure that your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Repeat all three exercises (lunges, squats, and wall sits) 2 more times. 

Tuesday: 45 minutes cardio

Wednesday: 30 minutes cardio

- Arm exercises: 3 sets of 12 with 3-5 lb weights.

  • “Slow burn” Bicep curls. With 3-5 lb weights in each hand, let your arms hang by your side. Bending at the elbow, lift your hands to your shoulders, and then lower very slowly back down (it should take you 10 seconds to lower the weight). Do 3 sets of 12. Repeat with your left hand
  • 3 sets of 12 pushups
  • Tricep extensions (3 sets of 12)
  • Shoulder presses (3 sets of 12) 

- Ab exercises:

  • Plank—Hold for 35 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Leg raises: Lie on your back and put both feet up in the air, creating a 90-degree angle with the body. Keeping the legs straight, lower both feet back to the ground (don’t let them touch) and then raise them back up. Do three sets of 12, alternating with the plank exercises.

- Leg exercises:

  • Forward lunges: 12 forward lunges on your right leg. 12 forward lunges on your left leg. 10 squats.
  • Wall sits: “Sit” for 30 seconds on the wall, making sure that your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Toe raises: Stand flat on your feet. Push yourself up onto the balls of your feet, hold for 3 seconds, and lower your heels. Do 3 sets of 12 (To up the intensity, try doing one foot at a time. For example, stand on your right foot. Push yourself up onto the ball of your foot, hold for 3 seconds, and lower your heel. Do 3 sets of 12, then do your left leg).
  • Repeat all four exercises (lunges, squats, wall sits, and toe raises) 2 more times.

Thursday: 45 minutes cardio

Friday: 30 minutes cardio; repeat Monday’s arm, ab, and leg exercises. (Shoulder press: With dumbbells in both hands and hands down at your sides, lift your arms to make a “T” with your body, keeping your arms straight and bringing the weights to the level of your shoulder). 

Saturday: 45 minutes cardio

Week 2

Mantra: “I am stronger than excuses.”

“For Week 2, you’ll need to up the intensity of your workouts. You can do this at your own pace, but remember that you need to be a little bit uncomfortable when doing the exercises. If the suggestions here aren’t enough for you, use a slightly heavier weight or perform more repetitions. The example here uses the same size weights for Week 2, but more repetitions of each exercise,” True explains. 

Sunday: day off, but make it a goal to do something that makes you break a sweat at least once

Monday: 35 minutes cardio

- Arm exercises: 3 sets of 15 with 3-5 lb. weights. 

  • Tricep Extension: With a weight in both hands, lift the hands above the head and then, keeping the elbows in close to the ears, bend at the elbow and lower the weight down behind your head.
  • 3 sets of 15 bicep curls (using the slow burn technique)
  • Pushups (3 sets of 15)
  • Shoulder presses (3 sets of 15)

- Ab exercises:

  • Plank—Hold for 40 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Toe touches: Lying flat on the floor, bring the right foot and left hand together in the center of your body (keeping your leg and arm straight), then lower your leg and arms at the same time. Repeat on the opposite side; repeat 5 times on each side for a total of 12.
  • Crunches: 15 center crunches, 15 to the left, 15 to the right. Repeat 2 more times. (Try doing them on a stability ball for a more intense ab workout).

-Leg exercises:

  • Forward lunges: 15 forward lunges on your right leg. 15 forward lunges on your left leg. 12 squats.
  • Wall sits: “Sit” for 35 seconds on the wall, making sure that your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Repeat all three exercises (lunges, squats, and wall sits) 2 more times. 

Tuesday: 45 minutes cardio

Wednesday: 30 minutes cardio

- Arm exercises: 3 sets of 15 with 3-5 lb weights.

  • “Slow burn” Bicep curls. With 3-5 lb weights in each hand, let your arms hang by your side. Bending at the elbow, lift your hands to your shoulders, and then lower very slowly back down (it should take you 10 seconds to lower the weight). Do 3 sets of 15. Repeat with your left hand.
  • Pushups (3 sets of 15)
  • Tricep extensions (3 sets of 15)
  • Shoulder presses (3 sets of 15) 

- Ab exercises:

  • Plank—Hold for 45 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Leg raises: Lie on your back and put both feet up in the air, creating a 90-degree angle with the body. Keeping the legs straight, lower both feet back to the ground (don’t let them touch) and then raise them back up. Do three sets of 15, alternating with the plank exercises.

- Leg exercises:

  • Forward lunges: 15 forward lunges on your right leg. 15 forward lunges on your left leg. 12 squats.
  • Wall sits: “Sit” for 35 seconds on the wall, making sure that your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Toe raises: Stand flat on your feet. Push yourself up onto the balls of your feet, hold for 3 seconds, and lower your heels. Do 3 sets of 15 (To up the intensity, try doing one foot at a time. For example, stand on your right foot. Push yourself up onto the ball of your foot, hold for 3 seconds, and lower your heel. Do 3 sets of 15, then do your left leg).
  • Repeat all four exercises (lunges, squats, wall sits, and toe raises) 2 more times.

Thursday: 50 minutes cardio

Friday: 30 minutes cardio; repeat Monday’s arm, ab, and leg exercises.

Saturday: 45 minutes cardio

Week 3

Mantra: “I am proud of my body and what it can do.”

“For Week 3, you’ll need to, again, up the intensity of your workouts. Another way to change up the exercises is to do each exercise for a certain amount of time (i.e., as many pushups as possible in 30 seconds). That’s how the workouts for Week 3 are structured. You might be surprised at how challenging this can be even though you’ve already been doing these exercises for 2 weeks. If 30 seconds isn’t long enough for some of the exercises, up the time to 45 seconds or 1 minute,” says True. 

Sunday: day off
 
Monday: 30 minutes cardio

- Arm exercises:

Do each of the following exercises for 30 seconds, in the order they are listed. Try not to take a break in between each exercise and try to do as many as you can in 30 seconds:

  • Tricep extension
  • Bicep curl (rather than doing the “slow burn” technique, do as many as you can in 20 seconds)
  • Shoulder presses
  • Pushups     

- Ab exercises:

  • Plank—Hold for 45 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Leg raises: Do as many leg raises as you can in 30 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.

- Leg exercises:

  • With your 3-5 lb dumbbells in each hand, do as many lunges as you can in 30 seconds; repeat with squats.
  • Wall sits: “Sit” for 40 seconds on the wall, making sure that your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Repeat all three exercises (lunges, squats, and wall sits) 2 more times. 

Tuesday: 55 minutes cardio
 
Wednesday: 40 minutes cardio

- Arm exercises:

Do each of the following exercises for 35 seconds, in the order they are listed. Try not to take a break in between each exercise and try to do as many as you can in 30 seconds:

  • Tricep extension
  • Bicep curl (rather than doing the “slow burn” technique, do as many as you can in 20 seconds)
  • Shoulder presses
  • Pushups

- Ab exercises:

  • Plank—Hold for 40 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Leg raises: Do as many leg raises as you can in 30 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Toe touches: Do as many toe touches (alternating leg/arm combination) as you can in 30 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.

- Leg exercises:

  • With your 3-5 lb. dumbbells in each hand, do as many lunges as you can in 30 seconds; repeat with squats.
  • Wall sits: “Sit” for 40 seconds on the wall, making sure that your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Toe raises: do as many toe raises as you can in 30 seconds (do not hold for 3 seconds when you are on the ball of your foot).
  • Repeat all four exercises (lunges, squats, wall sits, toe raises) 2 more times. 

Thursday: 45 minutes cardio
    
Friday: 30 minutes cardio; repeat Monday’s arm, ab, and leg workout.
 
Saturday: 45 minutes cardio

Diet plays a part too...

You can work out as much as you want but if you’re chowing down on super greasy fast food, you’re not going to see the body you want. Oregon’s rule of thumb: “stick with natural foods and nuts, such as almonds, and think of eating foods that are the color of the rainbow: leafy greens, salmon, berries, apples.” Sherman also suggests eating foods loaded with whole grains. Eating whole grains “releases energy slower over the course of the day, and prevents rapid changes in blood sugar (which equals hunger),” says Sherman.
 
To ensure a flat stomach in time for spring break (or even when you’re relaxing on the beach), “totally cut out soda, candy, alcohol (especially beer),” Sherman advises.
 
And—do I really need to tell you?—drink water. “There are numerous benefits to water—it helps the skin, muscles, and will make you feel much better than any carbonated beverage!” True says. Plus, it will keep you hydrated during your workouts.

Don’t fear the bikini; show off your toned body! Oregon, True, and Sherman agree that three weeks is hardly enough time to completely change your body, but the thing to focus on is having a healthy body you are proud of. And, of course, feeling confident and having a blast on spring break!