Some people realize that springtime is a good time to start getting their summer body ready. Others have been working on their summer body since the winter. If you’ve been killing it in the gym all winter, you probably can’t wait to unveil the results of all your hard work at the beach or at the pool on vacation. For many men and women, anticipation for that first day in swimwear is what pushes them through hours and hours of gruelling workouts.
When that first pool day rolls around this summer, you’re going to want to look your very best. That might mean cutting out certain foods a few days before, eating more of something else, or making an effort to drink more water in order to make your muscles pop and get that ‘shredded’ look.
Did you know that your genetics can influence how defined your muscles appear? Taking a DNA test from CircleDNA can give you some insight into your genetic body type, and how well your body responds to strength training exercises. This comprehensive DNA test also provides insight on possible genetic food intolerances that might be contributing to issues like bloating, which make you look less defined.
Not only that, while you’re preparing your body in the gym you need to make sure that you’re working the right muscle groups. Are crunches or sit-ups the way to go, or should you spend more time strengthening different muscle groups?
Every body is unique and will respond to diet and exercise differently, but if you want to reveal your best self this summer, follow these 5 tips to get your summer body (also known as your beach body) ready.
1. Follow a Low-Bloat Diet
Bloating can ruin any summer body, so following a low-bloat diet is especially important as you get closer to bikini season. Your ripped body could be hiding underneath a layer of bloat, making you appear bigger or ‘puffier’ than you really are. Bloating makes your midsection feel and appear full and tight, and is often caused by gas that may or may not be due to food intolerances, but can also be a result of the body retaining water.
Eating foods that are high in sodium causes the body to hold onto all the fluids you eat or drink, leading to bloating in your abdomen, feet and hands. High-sodium foods might not even taste that salty. Breads and rolls, store bought pre-cooked chicken breasts and cold cuts are notoriously high in sodium, so if you’re planning to be on the beach and want to look your best, avoid these food items for a few days prior, and double check the labels before eating anything pre-packaged.
When it comes to bloating caused by gas, unfortunately there are quite a few healthy foods that can contribute. Cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli and cabbage, which are very good for you, are digested slowly and can cause gas. Beans and peas contain a carbohydrate called raffinose that causes gas because the body has a hard time breaking it down.
2. Remember to Track Calories Burned and Calories Consumed
Logging what you eat and counting calories is a great way to keep yourself on track as we get closer to summer. It’s important to understand how many calories you should consume if you want to lose or maintain weight, which many online calorie calculators can help you with. You likely can’t eat 2,500 or 3,000 calories per day and lose weight very easily.
It’s also important to motivate yourself by logging how many calories you burn each day. Smart watches such as an Apple Watch can help you calculate how many calories you’re burning. You’ll burn the most calories with certain types of cardio, which brings us to our next tip.
3. Do Lots of Cardio
Doing cardio is a great way to burn fat and lose weight. Aim for one hour of cardio at least 4 times per week. A challenging, long, steep hike is a great form of cardio. An indoor cycling class such as a spin class can burn over 700 calories in less than one hour. Swimming is another great form of cardio, as is running, kickboxing or group fitness classes.
4. Work Your Core
If you think that crunches are the best exercise to get your body ready for summer, you’re not alone.
In fact, crunches (when done properly) are an isolation exercise that primarily work your abdominal muscles and are hard on the rest of your body, particularly your upper back and hip flexors.
If you want to look your best on the beach, you need to work your whole core, not just the 6-pack. Your core consists of everything from your pelvis to your diaphragm, including your glutes. It’s job is to hold your spine in place, thus, a strong core will naturally improve your posture and alleviate the many aches and pains associated with poor posture.
Some core muscles wrap around your body and some are located deep within your abdomen or pelvis.
Instead of crunching away, try any of these great alternatives that train your core muscles to work together:
- Planks. There are many variations of planks, but each one is a great way to work your core from different angles.
- Dead bugs
- Glute bridges
Check out these further details on the best core exercises. To work your core all day long, be mindful of your posture when sitting, walking, bending over and standing up. Maintaining a mind-muscle connection outside of the gym helps strengthen your focus in the gym.
5. Eat More Protein-Centered Meals
Protein contains the amino acids necessary for muscle repair. Your gym session is essentially ‘wasted’ if you’re not feeding your body high quality protein. Many make the mistake of eating a post-workout meal high in protein, only to neglect protein consumption for the rest of the day, but the anabolic effects of protein last roughly 5 hours, so regularly consuming enough protein throughout the day is just as important as feeding your muscles high-quality protein right after a workout. A good rule of thumb is to include protein in every meal.
Protein might even help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Collagen is a special form of protein that makes connective tissue, and its breakdown is what causes those dimples in your legs, glutes and even lower abs. Taking a collagen supplement, along with regularly consuming high quality protein from whole foods, may help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Additionally, flax seeds and dark berries are natural sources of collagen.
6. Train Your Upper Body
Training your core is important, training your abs is desired, but don’t forget to put some effort into training your upper body, especially your upper back.
When you focus too intently on one area, it’s unlikely you will see the results you expect. For one thing, training your abs every day doesn’t give your abdominal muscles enough time to recover, so even though you’re training them, they aren’t growing. Not only that, underdeveloped muscles can lead to problems with muscular imbalance that can affect you both in the gym and in your everyday life. Muscular imbalance can cause problems with your posture and impede your ability to perform exercises properly, increasing your risk of injury.
If that’s not enough to convince you, consider that a neglected upper back might also make you appear as if your midsection is bigger than it is. A strong, well-defined upper back creates the kind of ‘ triangular’ illusion of a smaller waist.
7. Drink Plenty of Water
Finally, the most obvious way to maintain your summer body well past beach season is to drink plenty of water. It may be bland, boring and flavorless, but drinking water helps with calorie control, muscle function, keeps your skin looking clear and hydrated, flushes toxins from your body, helps you think more clearly, supports your immune system, maintains the balance of fluids and nutrients in your body…the list is endless.
Especially when the weather is warm, getting an adequate supply of water is essential. Make sure you bring plenty along with you during long days spent in the sun, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking, because thirst is your body’s way of signaling that it’s already dehydrated.
Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty. You might be able to avoid late-night snacking empty calories if you just drink a big glass of water.
Water should be your drink-of-choice over juice, sodas, and other liquid calories. Getting into the habit of drinking water when you’re thirsty instead of a sugary drink will really help you with your summer body.
Your Summer Body: The Bottom Line
The shape of your body changes from day to day due to countless influences: the food you eat, how much rest you had the night before, and your genetic makeup are just a few reasons why you might feel ‘bigger’ than you did last week. The best summer body tips involve tracking your calorie intake and getting lots of exercise. All you need to do is stay motivated.