When spring hits, it means it’s time to start thinking about getting in shape for summer. But starting an exercise routine before the temperatures heat up can be difficult—and if you’ve never really adopted an exercise program before, the idea can be rather intimidating.
I’ll admit the idea of simply “getting in shape for summer” seems a little shallow at face value. After all, are you really going to be walking around scantily clad for the world to see? Most likely, no. But spring is nature’s rejuvenation, and it serves quite naturally as a timeline for human rejuvenation, too.
The truth is it’s always a good time to start getting more active and improving your physical fitness. Starting a weight training routine, jogging routine, or adopting any form of physical activity can make a number of improvements to both physical and mental health. If you want to get in shape this summer, here’s what you can do.
Health Benefits of Getting in Shape for Summer
Like anything else, your success with a summer workout routine will largely depend on your reason for doing it. And if you need a reason, here are a few scientifically proven mental and physical benefits of exercise that may help sway your decision:
- Promotes longevity and anti-aging
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases muscle mass, battling osteoporosis and sarcopenia
- Improves balance
- Promotes weight management
- Can lead to weight loss
- Improves mood/combats symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Promotes cellular regeneration
- Can improve quality of life
- Can boost confidence
- Promotes fat loss
- Enhances neuroconnectivity
- Combats/reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
Choosing the Right Summer Workout Plan for You
Not all forms of exercise will deliver the same results, but each form of exercise is beneficial. It’s important to set a goal and tailor your summer workout plan accordingly.
1. Weight Training
Weight training—also called resistance training—involving moving elastics, dumbbells, barbells, objects or resistance machines will enhance muscle size and strength. This will ultimately lead to better balance, which can prevent falls and bone breaks. It can also protect bones from osteoporosis. Weight training also improves body composition, glucose metabolism (reduced risk for type 2 diabetes), and can lower blood pressure long-term.
Running, jogging, dancing, or other cardiovascular activity is also important for your health. Running, like most other forms of exercise, is associated with improved mood, while helping to improve cardiac efficiency, glucose metabolism, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk for heart disease, and promote anti-aging benefits.
Of course, the benefits of any type of exercise—resistance or cardiovascular activity—are enhanced when used together. If you want to start getting in shape for summer, it’s recommended you try and spend some time with resistance and cardio. Designing a program where you weight train on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, while doing cardio on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, for example, would be ideal.
4. Healthy Diet
The effects of both forms of exercise are magnified through diet; so to get the results you want, you’re going to want to tailor your diet, too. Generally speaking, if you’re looking to add muscle, you’ll need to eat a little more protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fats. If you want to lose fat, you’ll still want to make sure you’re getting a good amount of protein; just be more selective with your carbohydrate and fat sources. If your goal is to perform plenty of cardio, you want to make sure you’re getting enough carbs so that glycogen is adequately stored. For more info on nutrition and caloric requirements, click here.
Preparing for Your Summer Workout Routine
So, you’re ready to start getting in shape for summer. Thankfully, starting an exercise routine can be pretty cheap, and what little money you do spend will likely save you in the long run in healthcare costs.
1. Choose the Right Footwear
All you need is a good pair of comfortable sneakers that will give you some mileage. Everybody’s feet and cadence is different; while some people’s feet pronate, others supinate when stepping. Therefore, you may require insoles to provide equal weight distribution when you step and save your knees from potential trouble. Talk to your doctor or a footwear specialist to see if there are any specifics you need to address when purchasing shoes.
When you’re buying your sneakers, you’ll want to consider ankle and heel support.
2. Try a Gym Membership
You may also need to spend some money on a gym membership. And if you’ve never worked out before, you may want to invest in the services of a personal trainer. Trainers can show you how to properly perform exercises, while easing you into a routine at a pace that suits your capabilities and needs. As you learn the safe execution of movements and become comfortable navigating the gym, you can leave your trainer if you like. It’s also important to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Sample Summer Workout Routine
If you want to start getting in shape for summer, here is a workout routine you can try. Remember to warm up before each weight and cardio session to reduce the risk of injury.
Monday (Day 1): Upper-Body Push
- Flat bench dumbbell or barbell press: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Incline bench dumbbell or barbell press: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Pec Fly machine: 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions
- Dumbbell shoulder press: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Side dumbbell lateral raises: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Tricep pushdown: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Dips (assisted if needed): 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
Tuesday (Day 2): Lower-Body Push
- Barbell or dumbbell squat: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Hack squat: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Leg Press: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Leg extension: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Standing calf raise: 4×12-15 repetitions
Wednesday (Day 3): Cardio
Perform 30-40 minutes of cardio (dancing, jogging, walking, cycling, etc.)
Thursday (Day 4): Upper-Body Pull
- Lat Pulldown: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Chest-supported dumbbell rows: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Close-grip cable rows: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Back extensions: 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions
- Reverse pec dec: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Alternating dumbbell bicep curl: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Barbell dumbbell curl: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Leg raises: 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions
Friday (Day 5): Lower-Body Pull
- Good mornings or stiff-legged deadlift: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Leg press (feet high on platform) 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
- Lunges: 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions per leg
- Leg curl (lying or seated): 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions
- Seated calf raise: 4×12-15 repetitions
Saturday (Day 6): Cardio
Perform 30-40 minutes of cardio (dancing, jogging, walking, cycling, etc.)
Sunday (Day 7): Rest
You don’t need to spend your day on the sofa; so if it’s a nice day, go outside for a leisurely walk or bike ride!
Westcott, M., “Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health,” Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2012 Jul-Aug;11(4):209-16. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8.
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“Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms” Mayo Clinic, October 10, 2014; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495, last accessed March 31, 2017.