The weather is starting to warm up again, so it’s definitely time to start thinking about your summer body. It’s hard to get started with any exercise plan, especially when you give yourself a deadline to achieve results by. But it is possible to get the body that you want by the time you hit the shore.
When it comes to getting the perfect beach body, whether that means losing 10 kilos or simply toning up, there are 5 simple rules to follow that will ensure that you manage to maintain that fit and healthy look long after the heat has gone.
#1 – Set Your Goals
Let’s be honest. There are areas of our bodies we aren’t happy with. Everyone feels the same way. But do we really need to lose weight to be happy? Is it just a case of throwing off those last couple of kilos and toning up, putting on weight to be in a healthy weight range, or a complete overhaul of your current appearance? Stand in front of the mirror, ask friends or family for their honest opinions, take your measurements and make an informed decision on your course of action.
Take measurements of your height and weight – it’s best to weigh yourself in the morning before you eat anything – and use a tape measure to work out the circumference of your target areas. These can include: upper arms, chest, waist, hips and thighs or whichever part of your body you are looking to change.
The next step is to calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) which will tell you what your ideal weight should be. This will give you a rough idea of the weight that you should be aiming for to be healthy. This should be your goal, not “being skinny”.
To work out your BMI, simply find your weight in kilos and divide it by your height in meters squared.
This is a little confusing, so here’s a diagram to make it easier, alternatively you can take advantage of our Body Composition Scanner and have a professional in-depth analysis of your fat, muscle, and water levels in less than a minute. No dunking. No pinching. No discomfort.
#2 – Cardio Exercises
Cardio – short for cardiovascular – exercises basically mean any activity that raises your heart rate to a level where you’re working, but can still manage to talk. It helps burn calories, improve the strength of your heart, increase lung capacity and reduce the risk of problems such as heart attacks, high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes.
It doesn’t matter how you get your heart rate up, whether it’s running, cycling, dancing or any number of exercises, as long as you do it.
Once you have found something you are comfortable with and enjoy doing, you can move onto advanced forms of cardio such as interval training and HIIT sprints (high intensity interval training). HIIT will burn more calories and kick your body’s repair cycle into overdrive, meaning that you will preserve your hard-earned muscles while ensuring that the weight you lose comes from those fat stores.
Try to do cardio for at least 90 minutes a week, using equipment such as; stationary bike, cross trainer and treadmills. If you can’t get into the gym, just got for a run or do some HIIT by running fast for a minute and walking for 2 minutes. Repeat this 5 times for a great 15 minute cardio workout.
Alternatively, why not join a class? Having people around you with similar goals is a great motivational tool that will push you harder than you would on your own. Great classes include; HIIT Step, TABATA, HIIT Box and Zumba.
Remember to mix up your exercises because it’s easy to get bored of cardio and this can cause you to slack off.
#3 – Lift Weights and Tone Muscles
So you’ve got your cardio down? That’s great. But here comes the hard work! It’s time to start lifting those weights and toning up those muscles to get that beach body ready for your swimsuit.
There are 5 parts to successful toning that you should follow:
- Yoga/Pilates – Both of these exercises are excellent for all over body toning and strengthening. Although we debunked the myth that lifting makes women bulky in our previous blog post – Do It Like A Dude – we recommend that if you still feel that you’d rather keep away from lifting for fear of looking bulky, you go for this kind of exercise for long and lean muscles.
- Targeting Your Core – Getting flat abs is one of the major points that people look to achieve when summer rolls around. The best way to do this is through crunches, leg lifts and planking. For the crunches try to hold your legs vertically in the air, using an exercise ball to avoid hurting your back. For planking, keep your body straight and avoid your hips sagging.
- Targeting Your Legs – Want slim, toned legs that will look great in your swimwear? Why wouldn’t you, right? The best exercises to work those legs are squats, burpees, lunges (try holding a dumbbell in each hand for increased results) and the use of a stationary bike or elliptical on high resistance.
- Target Your Arms – Strong, slim arms are a must to complete your beach body. So how do you do it? Push-Ups (if you can’t do a push-up, try doing one with your knees on the ground), lifting free weights and using a chest/shoulder-press machine. When using free weights, do more repetitions using a lighter weight to achieve lean, bulk free muscles.
- Classes – Blackwood Fitness runs classes that will help you target specific areas of your body. Group Fitness Classes will help to push you harder and give you the motivation needed to achieve the results you want in time for summer.
One suggestion that I make almost every week is to ask one of our personal trainers for more information on how to target your problem areas in the best way. They’re more than happy to answer any questions and will give you their full, dedicated knowledge should you decide to take out a Personal Training package – only $19.95 for 2x30minutes for a limited time – with them.
#4 – Eat Smart. Eat Right.
Here’s a bit of science for you. Approximately 7700 calories is the equivalent of 1 kilo of fat. So, in theory, a daily calorie deficit of 1000 will give you a loss of 1kg per week. However, things aren’t as clear cut in real life. You will eventually plateau using this method and the amount of food intake that once resulted in weight loss will become the amount you need to maintain weight.
Only try to lose a bit per week, and don’t go for a “quick fix” as this will not work and potentially backfire as your body will store more fat because it thinks you are starving. The only way to do it properly is to control the calorie intake you have and couple that with the cardio and muscle toning mentioned before.
Tip: Write down everything that you eat. Make sure you include all drinks, sauces and dressings that go with your food. This will help you to calculate your current calorie intake and create a plan to control your future calories.
Eat lean proteins. Great examples of protein-rich foods include: chicken, fish and turkey, tofu, tempeh, quinoa and lentils. These will aid in the growth and repair of lean muscles after you’ve been exercising. Some companies will actually provide meal plans that are designed to aid this.
Eat fruit and vegetables. Remember when your mother told you that you wouldn’t grow up big and strong if you didn’t finish your greens? She was right! They’re rich in vitamins, minerals and improve your skin’s appearance. Need I say more?
Drink more water. Keeping hydrated is very important, even if you’re not trying to lose weight. It helps with headaches and kidney stones & improves your skin and energy levels. If you want to avoid snacking, drink water – it’ll keep you feeling full!
Although it’s not a food type, sleep does come into your diet. Don’t eat before bed as your metabolism slows down in the hours that you’re dreaming and therefore will store more fat.
Hot tip: Things to avoid!
Cut down carbs. This means switching to whole grain versions of bread, pasta and rice. Carbs (carbohydrates) are sugars and starches which provide the energy your body needs. However, if you eat a lot of carbs they will be stored as fat. Cutting down will eventually help to slim you down.
Remove junk food and sweets. I know a lot of you will have a sweet tooth that just needs to be dealt with. Don’t worry; you won’t go on craving, just try to stick to healthy options like fruit, peanut butter, honey and dark chocolate instead!
Stop Drinking Alcohol. I know it’s a difficult thing to do when it’s Saturday night and you’re out with friends. But trust me, you’re going to see the benefits if you can avoid it. Some cocktails contain up to 700 calories and soda water is packed with sugar. If you have to drink, try to stick to red wine as a healthier option.
Avoid Avoiding Breakfast. Okay, ignore the double negative for a second. Skipping breakfast is a bigger deal than most people realise. It jump-starts your metabolism in the morning, meaning you burn more calories with your other meals, and provides you with the energy you need to get down to the gym!
#5 – Motivation, Motivation, Motivation!
Want to be successful with your routine? You’ve got to stay motivated! Here are a few killer tips to stop you from giving up:
- Find a Workout Buddy – Competition amongst friends is great for your workouts. Make friends with someone in the gym or bring along a buddy that shares similar goals. If your gym has a leader board, why not see if you can get your name on it (higher than your friends) or push yourself to be as good as those that are already on it? Share tips with your friends and keep each other going when your motivation levels get low.
- Buy a Poster – You don’t have to go out and get a One Sheet sized poster, but having a picture of a celebrity or a weight you used to be works as excellent motivation. Stick it to your mirror so that every time you see yourself, you can see how you match up to your ideal. This also works with a swimming costume. Get one in the size you want to be and hang it up where you’ll see it every day. When you can fit in it, you’ve achieved your goals.
- Treat Yourself – If you push and push and push, you’re eventually going to quit. Take time to reward yourself. Eat cake. Have a drink. Just remember to moderate yourself.
- Track Your Progress – One sure fire way to keep you motivated is seeing your progress! When you lose your first kilo, make sure you record it. Weigh yourself once a week at the same time of the day each time. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat, so as you grow stronger you may weigh more while looking thinner. Take before and after pictures so you can see your achievements as you go.
Whatever you find that motivates you, do it. It’s the only way that you’re going to keep going and get the results that you deserve.
If you follow these simple rules and try your hardest, you will see results and improve more than just your outward appearance. Exercise increases your confidence and attitude to life, which will help you to lead a happier and longer life.
For more information on anything discussed in this article, get in touch with a health and fitness professional – such as our Personal Trainers – as they will be able to provide in-depth knowledge of techniques and best practices for achieving results.