Summer marks the tail end of the spring season as a very inspirational time for many women (and men) to start a new “summer body” workout routine.
The goal of starting a new summer body workout routine is usually to slim down and tone up so that we can look and feel good in all our favourite sundresses, swimsuits, shorts, tank tops, and other attire that tend to be lighter, tighter, and more revealing.
I’ll admit that I’m one among the masses of people who are trying to get summer ready.
It’s such a cliché, this whole “summer boy” or “beach body” thing, but you’ve got to admit that when when you feel good in your skin, everything you do in the summer feels a lot more enjoyable.
Is It Too Late to Start a Summer Body Workout?
It’s been said that summer bodies are made in winter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t improve your physique for the warmer months starting now.
While it’s true that you can’t get the same results in three to four weeks as you can in six months, you can certainly change or upgrade your physical activity enough to see some visible results in as little as a couple weeks.
The last three to four weeks before the Summer Solstice is an incredibly inspirational time to start something new in preparation for the height of the summer season, so why not take advantage of it?
Honestly, it’s never too late to hit the refresh button on your exercise regime.
If you’ve sort of been in an exercise rut the past few months like I’ve been, now is the perfect time to harness the energy of Mother Nature and kick it into the next gear!
32 of My Best Tips to Help You Create Your Perfect Summer Body Workout
There isn’t just one workout to follow if you want to get summer ready.
There are, however, several tips and techniques you can integrate into your existing workout routine and even your daily life to help maximize your results.
The following list of tips includes everything I’m doing now and have done in the past that have helped get me results right before the official arrival of the summer season.
You certainly don’t have to do all of them to see results, but the more you can do, the better!
1. First of all, don’t assume you have to do lengthy, steady-state, moderate-intensity cardio sessions to get into shape.
Like many women, I used to be a slave to cardio.
The problem with this way of thinking is that the more cardio you do, the longer and more intense you have to do it to do to keep getting results.
It’s time consuming, it can eat away at your muscles (if you don’t support it with adequate protein and strength training), and it can backfire by causing too much stress.
Now, if you’re a runner or cycler who LOVES doing this kind of activity for exercise, then by all means, I’m not going to tell you not to do it— especially now that the weather is so nice and sunny and warm.
BUT you don’t have to. It’s great for being active in general, but for fat loss and toning up? Not so much.
2. Try a fasted morning workout that’s quick and dirty.
By “quick and dirty” I mean short and hard.
You work hard for at most maybe 20 to 30 minutes and then you’re done — feeling breathless, sweaty, and accomplished.
A fasted workout means consuming no more than 50 calories upon waking. This way, your body will be able to tap into its fat stores to burn fuel (rather than burning food you just ate).
I personally like to have 16-glass of water (always no matter what) when I wake up followed by a strong cup of coffee with a splash of half and half.
I’ve also supplemented with creatine before my fasted workouts to help protect and improve the performance of my muscles.
3. Consider starting your day with a few sun salutations (perhaps as a warm-up).
If you’re familiar with yoga, then you might already know what a sun salutation is.
It’s basically a series of yoga poses performed in a flowing manner, designed to build heat, increase flexibility, and improve muscle strength.
One particular study showed that people who performed 24 sun salutation cycles six days a weeks for a period of 24 weeks led to significant increases in muscle strength and decreases in body fat.
In other words, if all you have time for in the morning is sun salutations, then that’s certainly good enough. (The science proves it!)
And if you don’t want to do 24 of them, consider doing between 5 to 10 as a warm-up to your main workout.
4. Strength train 2 to 4 times a week for at least 7 to 30 minutes per session.
Nothing revs up the metabolism and blasts fat away like a good, heavy, properly performed weight training session.
And no, it won’t make you bulky!
You only have to strength train a minimum of two times a week (and as many as four times a week) to get results.
The idea is to leave at least one day in between strength training sessions to rest and recover.
5. Stick to super simple, basic strength training moves like pushups, bicep curls, shoulder presses, lunges, deadlifts, and squats.
If you think you have to curl your left bicep, lunge with your right leg, and pat your belly all at the same time to burn the most calories and get the best burn, well, you’d be wrong!
Honestly, the simpler your moves are, the better.
Keeping it simple will allow you to focus on isolating one body part at a time and it will be easier to keep good form.
All of the exercises included in my free workout that you can sign up for above are kept super simple.
It also includes images that show you the wrong way and right way to perform each move.
6. Focus on good form and muscle engagement instead of how much weight you can lift or swing around.
It’s definitely tempting to pick up HEAVY weights just to prove to nobody else but you that you can lift ‘em.
Well, I’m here to tell you… it doesn’t matter as much as you think.
Okay, yes, lifting heavy weights is good.
But if you have to twist your limbs or round your torso or use the momentum of gravity to get the job done, you’re doing it wrong (and you could end up seriously injuring yourself).
Your body doesn’t care how much weight you can lift.
In fact, you can work your muscles better by using body weight and good form than you can with weights and bad form.
7. Lift heavy enough weights that you can feel the burn by at least the 6th rep or at most the 12th rep.
The golden rule in the world of strength training is that you should be able to do a minimum of 6 to 8 reps (super heavy) or a maximum of 10 to 12 reps (less heavy).
And then there’s that middle point where you can aim for 8 to 10 reps.
So basically, if you can’t get up to rep number six, you’ve gone too heavy.
And if you can do more than 12, you haven’t gone heavy enough.
It’s all about finding that sweet spot. Your muscles should be shaking and unable to maintain proper form ideally around rep 8, 9, or 10.
8. Isolate your largest muscles so much that you feel breathless.
Breathlessness means you’re burning fat.
And you can totally get there with strength training — not just cardio.
Now, you probably won’t lose your breath from doing a tricep kickback since that’s such a small muscle.
You can, however, become totally breathless from doing lunges, squats, deadlifts, bent-over rows, or pushups.
Those are the exercises that work those big, powerful muscles (like your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, chest, and back).
To get to that breathless state, make sure to use good form, squeeze the muscle, go slow, and KEEP breathing through it — always exhaling upon exertion.
9. Modify moves that are too hard or when you have limited access to equipment.
Standard pushups are one example that can be easily modified by doing them on your knees until you build up enough strength to do them on your feet.
Lunges and squats can also be modified by simply not going so deep.
And if you think you need bulky gym equipment to strength train, you’re wrong.
You can use heavy household items like bags of books, laundry detergent jugs, and bags of potatoes—to name just a few things.
You also don’t need a gym bench to do bench presses or seated bent-over flies.
Anything that requires a bench can be modified to be done either on the floor or with a regular chair.
10. Rest when you need to during your workouts.
When it comes to working out, you have to learn to listen to your body.
Sometimes you can push through the discomfort, and often you’ll find that you CAN do more than you think you can — it’s just that your brain is uncomfortable and is being triggered to send the signal for you to stop immediately.
There are other signs, however, that you need to look out for to know when it’s time to take a break — even if it’s just for a few seconds.
If you can hardly expand your lungs to breathe, your heartbeat feels like it’s going a million miles an hour, you’re losing your form, you feel like your going to pass out or throw up… then that’s when you know that it’s time to take a breather.
11. Track the weight you lift, the reps you do, and the time you take to work out.
Why is tracking your progress important?
Well, first of all, it reminds you of how much weight you lifted and how many reps you did last time so you’re motivated to at least match that next time.
Second, you’ll get to see your strength improve with more reps, heavier weights, and fewer or shorter breaks.
Seeing that progress in strength, rep count, and time completed should act as a natural motivator for you to keep it up!
12. Aim to move around and avoid sitting down for 20 to 30 minutes after your workout.
This is hard, even for me.
Once I’m done working out, I want to jump into my office chair and get right to work… but I try not to for at least 20 minutes.
Your body needs time to come down back to its resting state from intense exercise.
If you’re huffing and puffing, plopping on the couch immediately after you’re done could do more harm than good.
I recommend stretching, foam rolling, doing household chores, or even showering right after a workout.
Just make sure you’re standing up and moving around.
13. Go for a walk in the morning, preferably after your sun salutations or main workout.
One great way to cool down and keep moving after your workout is by going for a short walk.
In fact, this is practically necessary if you’re trying to lose weight!
During your fasted workout, you burn a bunch of fat. But if that fat isn’t properly released, then you won’t lose it—and walking is the PERFECT activity to help you release all that fat after burning it.
Even if you can only do 10 minutes, that’s better than nothing.
14. Do a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout no more than 1 to 2 times a week—and consider taking it outside.
High-intensity interval training involves performing very short by intense bursts of exercise followed by short periods of rest.
Repeatedly bursting to breathlessness and taking a few seconds to a minute to recover is what helps burn more fat.
The best part about HIIT is that it’s quick and dirty. You basically kill yourself for 15 or 20 minutes (not including a warm-up/cool down) and then you’re done.
15. Get proper footwear for your workouts.
I can’t underestimate this requirement — especially for high-impact exercises that are typically involved in HIIT workouts.
If you’re doing a lot of jumping around, you’re going to want a good pair of lightweight training shoes that support your feet with as little bulk and padding as possible.
The more frequently you wear them and use them for your workouts, the more often you’ll need to replace them to maintain proper foot support.
Even if they still look new, they should be replaced once they break down.
16. Use a heart rate monitor during your workouts and/or an activity tracker throughout the day.
These types of gadgets are absolutely not necessary, but they can give you good insights into your physical activity that you can use to either maintain or improve on.
Heart rate monitors can tell you when you enter the aerobic zone (81% to 93% of your maximum heart rate) as well as the powerful anaerobic zone (94% to 100% of your maximum heart rate) for the greatest fat burning and after-burn effects.
Activity trackers, on the other hand, can encourage you to simply walk more and hit that default 10,000-step daily goal.
I have a Polar FT7 heart rate monitor with a chest strap for heart rate monitoring, but these days, there are newer ones that can track your heart rate from your wrist.
Fitbit has some snazzy activity trackers with built-in, wrist-tracking heart rate monitor—such as the extremely popular and well rated Fitbit Charge.
17. Adjust and postpone your most intense workouts on days that you’re fatigued.
There’s going to come a day when you’ve scheduled yourself to do a big, heavy lifting session or an intense HIIT workout, but you’re going to be too tired or too low on energy to do it.
Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep, you’re a little more stressed than usual, or the hormonal changes of your menstrual cycle are wreaking havoc on your mind and body.
Instead of pushing through it anyway and potentially stressing your body out even more, be kind to yourself and do something less intense — like going for a long walk or doing some yoga.
You can always do your high-intensity workout the next day when you’re feeling more energized.
18. Keep a few good post-workout products together to help yourself freshen up when there’s no time to shower.
Sometimes I do a quick workout and need to get right back to my day… yes, without showering!
Now that the weather is warmer, the risk of getting sweatier increases, which usually means taking extra care to fresh up.
Two of my best post-workout items I use include regular old corn starch that I run through my hair to make it look less greasy (kind of like dry shampoo) and a bottle of Mint Mattifying Face Mist from The Body Shop to cool my face off/get rid of excess shine.
I also recommend keeping a sweat towel, a stick of deodorant, and even an extra change of underwear on hand.
19. Avoid working out in the heat of the day if it’s super hot.
If you like to work out outside, or don’t have A/C, you’ll probably want to avoid over exerting yourself while the temperature is at its highest—usually between noon and 5pm.
It might not yet officially be summer, but working out in the morning or evening will help you stay much cooler.
20. Make sure you take at least 1 or 2 days off a week to recover.
If you’re in a rush to get summer ready, you might be tempted to work out intensely every single day.
But trust me, it’s not really a great idea.
The body rebuilds itself during rest periods. Without proper rest, you can stress your body out and make yourself more prone to injury.
Take at least one day off a week as an “active” rest day. That means lots of movement, but no structured workout.
21. Go for long walks, soft hikes, or leisurely bike rides (1 to 2 hours) on your recovery days.
Active rest days/recovery days are perfect for getting outside and taking advantage of the soon-to-be-summer-like weather.
Low to moderate-intensity activities can actually help the body recover quicker while also giving you the opportunity to burn more calories if you do it for at least an hour or longer.
You can also do swimming or light sports if the weather calls for it!
22. Practice restorative yoga or do some foam rolling on your recovery days — particularly when it’s rainy or not nice enough to get outside.
When one of your active rest days coincides with a less-than-perfect day (a.k.a. rainy or stormy), take it as a perfect opportunity to do some kind of indoor physical activity that helps to restore both your body and mind.
Yoga or Tai Chi are good examples. And if you’re not into that, basic stretching or getting a good foam roller to gently massage your muscles can help speed up the healing of your muscles after a good workout and even help increase flexibility.
23. Spend as much time doing outdoor activities on weekends as you can on your days off.
A summer body workout really encompases more than just the time you set aside to actually work out.
If you really want to burn more calories, you’re going to have to increase your daily movement overall, and what better way to do that than by getting outside regularly?
If you’re not sure what to do, go for a leisurely walk.
Walking is one of the best things you can do to add to your daily calorie burn (and even burn fat).
24. Protect your skin whenever you physical activities outside.
I probably take skincare and skin protection more seriously than most people.
My daily moisturizer has SPF 30 in it and I’ll reapply with zinc oxide sunscreen (the best kind) anytime I go out — even in winter or when it’s cloudy.
Now more than ever, it’s easy to get excited about spending time outside and forgetting that the sun is nearly at its strongest — even when it’s not blistering hot out (yet).
Slap on that SPF, reapply every couple of hours (especially if you’ve been sweating), get a good pair of sunglasses that filters out UVA/UVB rays, and consider getting a wide brimmed hat for extra facial protection.
25. Drink lots of water before, during, and after workouts and outdoor activities.
Last weekend, I went on a 4.5-hour hike in the heat. I drank water throughout the hike, but not nearly enough — made evident by the fact that I had a pretty bad dehydration headache by the end of the day.
Lesson learned? Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink up.
Especially now that the weather is really heating up, you need extra water to get you through those lengthier or more intense physical activities.
26. Walk (or cycle) anywhere you can instead of driving.
Cars and public transportation are just necessary for some trips.
But when your destination is within walking distance and you don’t have to transport large items like furniture or groceries from Point A to Point B, it makes a lot of sense to walk there instead.
As a bonus, you’ll be doing the environment a bit of a favour. Sure, it’s a super small one, but it still counts.
27. Get up from your desk and move around as frequently as you can when you’re at work.
You might do a great job at sticking to your workouts and getting more active during evenings and weekends, but don’t think you can just stop there.
Sitting at your desk for eight or more hours a day is a big no-no — not just for weight loss, but for your overall health.
I recommend using the Pomodoro Technique to encourage you to move more frequently.
It’s a super popular time management technique that was designed to help desk workers be more productive.
28. Do a few desk-friendly stretches and exercises while you work.
Using the Pomodoro Technique throughout your workday is probably good enough to encourage yourself to move more during the day, but if you want to take it a step further, you can fidget, stretch, or even exercise right at your desk without leaving your chair.
Here are 25 stretches and exercises you can do you at your desk to help you beat the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle and even add to your overall daily calorie burn.
29. Go for another walking in the evening.
So you went for a morning walk, you’re walking a lot during your breaks at work, AND you’re getting out to walk on the weekends?
Now get back out there in the evening too.
Seriously, you can practically never do too much walking.
As long as you have proper footwear, you’re well hydrated, and you’re not dealing with any injuries, you should be making an effort to walk as much and as frequently as possible.
Long, leisurely walking helps burn more calories without triggering hunger or cravings the way that more intense physical exercise does.
30. Ditch the scale in favour of a measuring tape.
If you’re strength training, it might appear that you’re putting on weight (or not losing any) if you’re using a scale.
I say get rid of it and start taking weekly measurements of the inches around your waist, hips, thighs, calves, and arms instead.
Inches say so much more about your transformation than the scale does. Your body weight fluctuates all the time due to water retention, muscle gains, and even what’s in your digestive system.
When it comes straight down to it, ask yourself if you’d rather look slimmer and weigh more, or look the same and weigh less.
If you like the first scenario best, then you’re going to want to measure inches lost instead of pounds.
31. Get a good night’s sleep (every night).
Intense summer body workouts and lots of low-intensity outdoor physical activity require proper rest so that your body can recover and rebuild, which is exactly why you need to take your sleep schedule seriously.
Up to 75% of your human growth hormone (HGH) is released in your body during proper sleep, which is not only important for your overall health, but also for muscle development and fat loss.
I know it’s hard — particularly when you have a busy day job and/or a family to raise—but you need to aim to get at least 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep a night.
32. Never punish yourself by working out twice as hard the next day after missing a workout or two (or simply eating too much).
If you’ve ever been a slave to calories, then you might’ve done this before.
You feel bad about not working out enough or going over your calorie limit, so you decide to double down on exercise.
Unfortunately, this can do more harm than good.
If you work out too long or too intensely, not only could you risk injury, but also the potential for metabolic backlash.
Metabolic backlash is when your metabolism responds to excessive exercise by adjusting itself down slightly so you actually burn fewer calories at rest — while ramping up hunger and cravings to boot.
(If you’ve been through this, like I have several times, you know how awful it is to unexpectedly have to deal with it.)
Working out too long or too hard can also cause you to burn away precious muscle you’ve already spent so much time and effort building.
My advice? Don’t do it.
Forgive yourself and let it go.
After all, life gets in the way and you’re only human.
Just move on by getting back to doing your workouts as you would normally do.
Reminder: You Already Have a “Summer Body” and Don’t Need to Change It
Before I close out this blog post, I just wanted to remind you that whatever state your body is in, it’s still perfect for enjoying the summer.
Summer is the number one season that places an enormous amount of pressure on us all to get into shape.
Once the layers come off, you might feel like all your flaws are more exposed than ever.
You might even feel guilty and ashamed for not taking advantage of the colder season to get into better shape or avoid gaining weight — but trust me, these are toxic thoughts that prove nothing about your worthiness of enjoying everything there is to enjoy this summer.
You have to try really, really, REALLY hard not to let these types of negative thoughts get to you.
If you do, you’ll be negatively motivated to get into shape, which is exactly the trap you don’t want to fall into.
Lasting healthy habits are genereated from positive sources of motivation, meaning that you must work on accepting and loving yourself for exactly how you are — flaws and all.
When you do, your motivation won’t come from a desire to change — it will come from a desire to improve.
So as you embark on your summer body workout journey, now and throughout the summer, I encourage you to also work on simply accepting your body exactly the way it is right now.
You don’t have to like everything about your body immediately.
You just have to work on accepting it.
Start your summer body workout because you love your body and value what it does for you — not because you hate it and want to change everything about it.