25 Ways to Make This Your Fittest Summer Ever
It's easy to improve your fitness in the summer without overhauling your routine. A little more time spent outdoors. A few tweaks to your gym workouts. More stops at roadside stands for fresh fruits and delicious summer vegetables. To help you make the most of it all, we've rounded up some of our best fitness advice below. Use these tips to stay active all summer, and build momentum for the rest of the year.
1. Wear a pedometer. You may think you’re walking more than you really are. Wearing a pedometer will not only give you an idea of how active you are this summer, but it will also serve as a constant reminder to periodically walk and stretch.
2. Lift weights. The biggest determinant of calorie burning is your metabolism. And the biggest factor in that is your lean muscle mass. So head outdoors for your cardio while the weather's nice, but don't skip the gym entirely—weight training has to be a part of any effective weight loss (or strength building) program.
3. Get in the gym, get out. Keep your training efficient by limiting your rest between sets. This forces your body to work harder, and saves you time. You can also try squeezing in stretches between strength moves. Learn more.
4. Sleep in on the weekend. Sleep deprivation decreases your body’s ability to control glucose levels, which can lead to increased insulin production and weight gain. So try to hit the sack for eight hours a night. Use our sleep tracker to make sure you're getting enough zzz's.
5. Eliminate this one excuse. If you know how to utilize your bodyweight, you can always get in an effective training session—at home, on summer road trips, or at a crowded gym. No equipment should be no excuse to skip a workout. Try this bodyweight workout.
6. Modify your workout. Don’t let a packed summer schedule keep you from being active. Instead, learn how to rework your fitness plan to sneak in an effective workout even when you’re pressed for time. This can be as simple as taking a quick walk outside.
7. Master the overhead squat. While one exercise does not make a training program, adding the overhead squat to your routine will help strengthen your legs, hips, shoulders, and core. To learn how to do it, watch this video.
8. Enjoy summer! Take time off from your regular routine. By giving your mind and body time to relax, you'll gain more strength and continue making improvements in the gym with less risk of burning out or getting injured.
9. Create reminders. Part of the reason many people are so inactive during the day is because we get lost in our jobs and simply forget to move. So leave some reminders for yourself. For instance, put a Post-It Note on your dashboard that says “cold water.” It’ll remind you that the best driving position is how you react when someone pours cold water down your back—spine straight, shoulder blades back, chest open.
10. Try a warm-weather sport or activity. You’re more likely to stay active if you find something that you truly enjoy (surfing, running, swimming, yoga). Let’s take that a step further: If you love it enough, you can do anything. So take some time this summer to narrow down what you love spending your time doing and start doing it more often.
11. Run with a friend. A training partner will hold you accountable and help you stay motivated. So recruit a group of friends and set a goal together.
12. Use phone calls to your advantage. Get in the habit of rising from your chair whenever the phone rings and walking around the office during the ensuing conversation. Or stand and stretch during conference calls and meetings. These little things may not seem like much but they add up, and research is showing that they have significant health benefits.
13. Master the world’s greatest stretch. The elbow-to-instep stretch improves flexibility in your hips, hamstrings, lower back, torso, groin, and quadriceps. If you had time for only one stretch, this would be it. Take time to learn it and you’ll see rapid gains in flexibility and mobility. To learn how to do it, watch this video.
14. Try a new stretch. Unlike traditional stretching where you hold a stretch for 10-30 seconds, in Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) you use a rope to gently assist in pulling a muscle a little farther than your body would ordinarily allow. This form of stretching reprograms your brain and body to remember a new range of motion, so you see improvements fast.
15. Work on progressive resistance. Progressive resistance is about increasing the amount of weight you lift or the number of repetitions you do in your strength workouts each week. This consistent increase in effort can help change the way you look and perform.
16. Play fun summer games to burn calories. Your barbecues don’t have to revolve around food, and we think it’s more fun when eating’s not the only activity planned for the day. Work up an appetite with a group bike ride, swim or games.
17. Challenge yourself with weight. If you make it through an entire circuit with picture-perfect technique on every repetition, you’re not challenging your muscles and you’re cheating yourself out of results. Try using heavier weights and maintain solid form to reap the greatest benefits.
18. Set summer health and fitness goals. A combination of short- and long-term goals is important to your success. An end-of-summer goal sets your motivation in motion and helps define direction and purpose. But it’s also essential to set specific, clear goals along the way. Start with a goal for the first week of summer and set another for July 4.
19. Kickstart your summer fitness plan with summer jams. A new playlist can boost your motivation when you’re starting a new exercise routine. Ask a friend with good taste in music to share tunes or put together a playlist for you. Also try making a bunch of playlists at once and shuffle them so they don’t feel stale. Bottom line: Keeping your beats fresh can help keep your training exciting.
20. Include cross-training in your fitness plan. Mix up your routine with running, cycling, swimming (everyone in the pool!), weight training, and other activities. You’ll increase your overall fitness and reduce your risk for overuse injuries.
21. Stand and stretch. The average office employee spends 28 hours a week sitting at a desk. Sitting so much can lead to poor posture, cramped muscles, and back and neck pain. Take advantage of the warm weather and take a few minutes to stand, stretch, and walk outside.
22. Beat the heat. It’s easy to ignore the heat when you’re trying to push through a workout or win a game, but don’t let your adrenaline fool you. It’s hot! To keep yourself from being the victim of heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, stay hydrated, take water breaks, and avoid midday workouts.
23. Pack a jump rope for your summer vacation. Don’t let your travel schedule halt your exercise efforts. Stash a jump rope in your luggage, and use it at your hotel to burn calories and boost energy.
24. Focus on regeneration. One of the main reasons people skip their workout is because it hurts. If you’re terribly sore from doing anything, you probably won’t go back, right? That’s why it’s so important to reduce soreness from the start by including recovery in your training plan. If you like recording your habits, like sets and reps or meals, try writing down your foam roll and stretching routines. By not skipping out on flexibility and regeneration work, you’ll feel fresh for your next session.
25. Download more upbeat summer tunes. British researchers found that the beats per minute, or BPM, of your music impacts your performance. They found that listening to songs that clock in at more than 120 BPMs increased running capacity by an impressive 15 percent.