It’s summertime, which means bikinis, tank tops and miniskirts. This also means many friends have been coming to me for questions on how to become fit and toned for these warmer months. Reminder: you cannot ‘spot train’ certain body parts. Doing 100 crunches a day won’t give you a six pack if it’s covered in a layer of excessive belly fat. Instead, a combination of cardio and strength training, and healthy eating can lead to a fit and toned body. Although everyone’s bodies are different, if you are noticing that you are gaining weight in one particular area (arms, belly, hips etc) for no apparent reason, talk to a Naturopath about doing a hormonal salivary test as imbalances can cause you to gain weight in specific areas.
Now let’s talk fitness. In terms of workouts, I prefer alternating strength-training days with cardio days, Some people prefer splitting their workouts (strength in the morning, cardio in the afternoon) but this is not always feasible. I find it better to do a cardio (30-60 minutes) one day, alternating with strength exercises, and always giving myself one rest day per week. I vary my strength workouts, never doing two workouts back to back to allow muscle groups to rest
Here are some good articles on different arm workouts that you can do easily from home. Remember you want to feel a ‘burn’ but not pain when lifting weights, never ever lift weights to exhaustion and always rest between sets. Here are some helpful videos and pictures of good exercises.
For legs, I rarely use machines (I find them restrictive, heavy and clunky), relying on a combination of squats and lunges as these have been proven to be extremely effective and can be done anywhere. These videos show proper form; always start with the most basic and you can work your way up to harder variations. I usually do three sets of 10, of either lunges or squats at each workout.
I end my workout with 10-15 minutes of abs, sometimes I do Swiss ball tucks, mountain climbers, and variations of the plank. In this great Jillian Michael's video, you need to fast forward a bit to the abs part.
The important thing is always a proper warm up and cool down. For strength training, do at least 5-7 minutes of light biking, elliptical or cardio, and also do a few dynamic (read: not static) stretches to really wake my muscles up. Here is a video of good dynamic stretches.
For cool down, try some of the following poses with deep breathing.
And…..if you need some encouragement to hit the beach, check out the following post ;)