8 Key Exercises (and 5 Workouts!) for a Strong Summer
Either add these killer moves to any workout or follow the five sample workout programs to get your body in shape for the summer.
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Summertime means a change of seasons, yes — but for many, it also means a change of pace. If you’ve been slacking on your exercise and nutrition over the winter, it’s time to take charge as the weather warms up.
Whether you’ve been sticking to a fitness regimen lately or not, we’ve got a host of exercises and five sample workouts that are guaranteed to get you feeling stronger in no time.
8 Exercises to Get You Strong for Summer
1. Dumbbell Sumo Squat
Muscles worked: Quads, inner/outer thighs, glutes, rectus abdominis, deltoids
Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and hold one end of a dumbbell with both hands in front of you. Keeping your shoulders back, bend your knees and drop your glutes straight down toward the floor until your thighs come parallel to the ground. Then drive through your heels to return to standing, squeezing your glutes at the top.
Tip: Make sure your knees track over your toes as you descend; don’t let them cave inward.
2. T Push-Up
Muscles worked: Pectorals, triceps, deltoids, obliques, transverse abdominis, traps, rhomboids
Get into a push-up position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your head, hips and heels aligned. Brace your core to prevent your hips from sagging, and make sure your head is neutral. Keeping your arms close to your sides, bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor until your chest touches or nearly touches down. Extend forcefully back to the start, then open your body to the right and reach your right hand for the sky. Replace your hand, do another push-up and then repeat to the left side to complete one rep.
Tip: Having trouble with balance? Spread your feet a little wider apart for a more stable base.
3. One-Arm Dumbbell Thruster
Muscles worked: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, rectus abdominis, obliques, deltoids, triceps, traps
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly, and hold a single dumbbell at your shoulder, elbow down, palm facing inward. Extend your other arm to the side for balance, and shift your weight into your heels. Kick your hips back and bend your knees to squat down as low as you comfortably can. Then drive through your heels and explosively stand to the start, using that upward momentum to straighten your arm and press the dumbbell overhead. Return the weight to your shoulder and repeat. Complete all reps on one side before switching.
Tip: Keep your shoulders and hips square throughout to protect your back.
Muscles worked: Rear delts, erector spinae, rhomboids, glutes, hamstrings, obliques
Lie facedown with your arms and legs extended. Alternately lift your opposite arm and leg in a small swimming motion up and down, remembering to breathe throughout.
Tip: Don’t look up. This puts your spine out of alignment and could strain your neck. Look at the floor and keep your head neutral.
5. Dumbbell Deadlift
Muscles worked: Lats, erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings, quads, deltoids
Hold a set of dumbbells at your sides and stand with your feet about hip-width apart, toes forward. Draw your shoulders back and keep your back straight as you push your glutes rearward, slowly lowering the dumbbells straight down toward the floor on either side of your legs. As you approach the bottom, bend your knees to touch the weights to the floor, then reverse the move to return to the start.
Tip: Because your weight is to your sides rather in front, your hips will drop lower than they would with a standard barbell deadlift, but don’t let them drop below your knees.
6. Dumbbell Lateral Lunge with Front Raise
Muscles worked: Quads, glutes, inner/outer thighs, front delts, traps, rhomboids
Hold a dumbbell in front of you with both hands and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Take a large step to the side with one foot, lunging deeply over that knee as you raise the dumbbell to shoulder height while keeping your other foot flat on the ground. Push off that foot to return to the start. Complete all reps on one side, then switch.
Tip: Don’t let the weight of the dumbbell pull you forward. Draw your shoulders back and stand up as tall as you can while executing the exercise.
7. Weighted Dead Bug with Leg Extension
Muscles worked: Pectorals, front delts, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques, hip flexors
Lie faceup and hold a dumbbell with both hands over your chest, arms straight, and actively press the weight upward to engage your chest and shoulders. Lift your legs, knees bent, over your hips so they make a 90-degree angle and press your lower back into the floor. From here, extend one leg out, getting it as close to the ground as you can without arching your back. Return to the start and continue, alternating legs.
Tip: Do this move slowly and in control to maintain proper form.
8. Sit Hold With Dumbbell Chest Press
Muscles worked: Rectus abdominis, hip flexors, quads, pectorals, front delts, rhomboids, traps, transverse abdominis
Sit with your legs and feet together, knees bent, and hold a single dumbbell with both hands at your chest, elbows bent. Keep your back straight as you lean back and lift your feet off the floor, lifting your legs so they make a 90-degree angle. Hold here as you push the dumbbell out away from you in line with your shoulders, then bring it back to the start.
Tip: If this is too challenging, lightly touch your toes to the floor for balance. Work toward getting them off the ground as you improve.
5 Sample Workouts for Strength and Shreds
Need some programming ideas? Here are five sample workouts to get you started.
1. Total-Body Burn
Do one to three rounds of the below circuit. Perform all the moves back-to-back with no rest in between, and rest 60 to 90 seconds between rounds.
|Dumbbell Sumo Squat||10|
|Dumbbell Lateral Lunge with Front Raise||5 (each side)|
|One-Arm Dumbbell Thruster||5 (each side)|
|T Push-Up||5 (each side)|
|Sit Hold With Dumbbell Chest Press||10|
|Weighted Dead Bug with Leg Extension||10 (each leg)|
2. Legalicious Circuit
Do the moves in this circuit back-to-back with no rest in between. Complete three total rounds, resting 60
seconds between rounds.
|Dumbbell Lateral Lunge with Front Raise (right)||12|
|One-Arm Dumbbell Thruster (right)||12|
|Dumbbell Lateral Lunge with Front Raise (left)||12|
|One-Arm Dumbbell Thruster (left)||12|
|Dumbbell Sumo Squat||15|
3. More Core Tabata
Do each move at max effort for 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. Complete four rounds for a total of four minutes.
|Weighted Dead Bug with Leg Extension||20 seconds|
4. The Shred-Down Metcon
Complete all reps of one move before going to the next. Rest as needed, but move briskly while using good form. Your score is your total time to complete the workout.
|Dumbbell Sumo Squats||50|
|Sit Holds with Dumbbell Chest Presses||20|
|Weighted Dead Bugs with Leg Extensions (5 each side)||10|
5. Heart-Burn HIIT
Do two to three rounds each of Part 1 and Part 2. Perform each strength move for 30 seconds and go right into the next without resting. For Part 3, run hard and fast for the sprint, then do as many T push-ups as you can without resting before you reach failure. Your score is the number of T push-ups you complete before hitting the dirt.
Part 1 — 3 rounds
|Run 400 meters (2-3 minutes)|
|One-Arm Dumbbell Thruster (right)|
|Dumbbell Sumo Squat|
|One-Arm Dumbbell Thruster (left)|
Part 2 — 3 rounds
|Run 300 meters (1-2 minutes)|
|Dumbbell Lateral Lunge with Front Raise (right)|
|Dumbbell Lateral Lunge with Front Raise (left)|
Part 3 — 1 round
|Sprint 100 meters (30 to 40 seconds)|
|Do max reps of T push-ups|