Our beloved sweaters and scarves cover a multitude of imperfections with regards to our bodies during the winter months, but as the weather gets warmer most of us will want to tone our bodies as more of it becomes on show. Add the exercises below to your existing exercise routine or combine them together to create your own workout to start working on your perfect summer body. Most of these exercises can be done at home or on-the-go, so getting in perfect form doesn’t always have to depend on hitting the gym.
The split squat provides numerous benefits that you can’t get by doing a simple squat. First, the split squat presents a tremendous balance challenge. This will help recruit your glutes more for stabilization and develop balance and coordination that will carry over to sports outside of the gym. It also isolates one leg at a time, thus improving posture and allowing you to work each specific leg muscle more intensely.
- Position yourself into a staggered stance with the rear foot elevated onto something stable and front foot forward.
- Begin by descending, flexing your knee and hip to lower your body down. Maintain good posture throughout the movement. Keep the front knee in line with the foot (never over your toes!) as you perform the exercise
- At the bottom of the movement, drive through the heel to extend the knee and hip to return to the starting position.
Normal lunges? We’re over those. It’s time to take things to the next level and work your legs ant butt a whole lot more. You may not be able to take the stairs the next day but the results will be so worth it!
- Start from standing, and step your left leg behind you and to the right so your thighs cross, bending both knees as if you were curtsying.
- Return to standing, and switch sides.
- Perform as many proper reps as possible for one minute.
The donkey kick move isolates the muscles in the lower half of your body. By keeping your upper body still for support, the donkey kick works your core, lower back, legs and butt. Each leg lift tones all three glute muscles-gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus-in both the leg being lifted and the leg used for support.
- Get on all fours on mat (hands under shoulders, knees under hips).
- Keeping right knee bent 90 degrees, flex right foot and lift knee to hip level.
- Lower knee without touching floor, lift again.
- Switch legs and repeat.
Wall sits are an excellent way to feel the burn in just a few seconds and work your lower body muscles. All you need is a wall!
- Start by standing with your feet about 50cm from a wall and with your back against it.
- Slide your back down the wall until your hips and knees bend at a 90 degrees angle.
- Keep the shoulders, upper back and the back of the head against the wall.
- Both feet should be flat on the ground with the weight evenly distributed.
- Hold for as long as possible (no using your hands)!
- Bend your knees slightly, sit your hips back and keep your abs engaged throughout to protect your lower back. Your gaze should be on the floor in front of you slightly forward.
- Use a shoulder-width grip and keep your elbows in line with your torso.
- Keeping everything stable, exhale as you lift the dumbbells (or barbell) to your chest (with elbows lifted above your back), then slowly lower back down until the arms are fully extended. Inhale on the way down, using your muscles to control the movement, not momentum or gravity and keep your back and core engaged.
This combined exercise will build strength in your upper body and tone. It also requires engaging your core muscles, which means it will help you tone the stomach area too.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Your arms should be by your sides with your palms facing inward.
- Bend your arms and, as your elbows pass 90 degrees of flexion, rotate your hands into a palms up position. Continue raising the weights to shoulder-height. Press the weights up and overhead to full arm extension, rotating your palms to face forward as you do so.
- Lower your weight and repeat.
Mountain climbers are a great full body workout that will build strength and burn calories simultaneously.
- Begin in a push up position, with your weight supported by your hands and toes. Flexing the knee and hip, bring one leg until the knee is approximately under the hip. This will be your starting position.
- Explosively reverse the positions of your legs, extending the bent leg until it is straight and supported by the toe, and bringing the other foot up with the hip and knee flexed.
- Repeat while alternating legs for 20-30 seconds.
Not only is your core the powerhouse of your body, but strong abdominal muscles can completely transform the appearance of your midsection. Russian twists are one of the best exercises to target your core muscles and also strengthen your lower back.
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet slightly elevated from the ground.
- Lean back so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to floor, making sure to keep the spine straight and not rounded.
- Extend your arms straight out in front of your chest with one hand on top of the other.
- Raise your core and slowly rotate round to the right as far as you can, pause, then reverse this movement all the way round to the left as far as you can.
Plank Up and Downs
Tone your arms and work your core at the same time with this variation to the traditional plank. Moving between and elbow and a high plank will put extra strain on your core and work your arms more too.
- Start in a plank position on your forearms with your feet shoulder width apart and your lower back flat.
- Press your body up to a push-up position and then lower yourself back down into the plank.
- Repeat for 1 minute.
If you are looking for a real challenge, burpees are your friend. Burpees work all of your major muscle groups, meaning they burn more calories than all other body weight exercises. With every rep, you’ll work your arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and abs. After a few sets of burpees, your legs are guaranteed to be on fire!
- First, stand up straight, then get into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you.
- Kick your feet back into a push up position and immediately drop your chest to the ground.
- Bow your chest up, then return your feet back to the squat position as fast as possible.
- Immediately jump up into the air as high as you can.