While it’s great that the onset of warm weather and sunshine serves as a motivator for more people to get involved with exercise, we can’t forget to keep some of our focus on the bigger picture. In other words, if you’re aiming to get fit for the upcoming summer season, don’t place an expiration date on your exercise plans. Start with the intention to continue practicing a healthy exercise habit even after you’ve reached your summertime goal. Looking good is about feeling good, and exercising on the regular is one of the best ways to make sure that both your body and mind will always feel incredible. The following tips will help you kick your summer fitness routine into high gear and ultimately, create a healthy exercise habit that will last for life.
This will help you make sure that you’re staying on track and you can check in using body composition measurements (e.g. waist, thighs, hips, etc.), photographs, the scale, or a combination of any of these tracking methods. “Don’t wait until right before your beach vacation to try on your swim suit,” says Lisa Reed, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Lisa Reed Fitness LLC. “Take a picture of yourself now in your suit and decide the areas you would like to work on. Embrace and love your body now, and be excited for the healthy changes you will make and how those changes will reflect on your figure.”
If you’re not sure where to start or feel like you need an extra motivational boost, hiring a trainer or working with a group, even if it’s just for a few weeks, might be a smart option for you. “Hire a personal trainer, join a group strength training class, or sign-up for a boot camp,” Reed suggests. “Accountability and consistency are both key components to succeeding in any fitness routine. Plus, having a trainer or a workout group or buddy provides ongoing motivation and support." Dan Kleckner, an ACSM certified exercise physiologist and owner of Kutting Edge Fitness, says working with a professional is also beneficial because you can place confidence in the plan your trainer provides. “There is no one-size- fits-all plan, so you need to develop the right plan for you to yield long-term success,” he said.
Incorporating more activity into your daily routine is one of the best ways you can both get in shape for summer and build a healthy exercise habit that will last for life. “Start finding more active ways of daily living now,” says Billy Polson, a certified personal trainer and founder of DIAKADI, San Francisco's largest personal training only gym. He suggests riding your bike to work, getting off the bus or subway a few stops early, and swapping the elevator for the stairs. “A lot of clients also find it helpful to wear an activity monitor, like a Fitbit, to monitor your daily general activity and challenge yourself to a minimum each day,” he said. “If you reach the end of the day and you still need some more activity, then walk the block or do squats and lunges while watching TV. By making these swaps part of your daily life now, you're creating habits that will last longer than bikini season.”
“Remember why you started,” says Reed “Getting in shape is tough. If you feel like giving up, visualize yourself after you reach your goal and imagine how accomplished you will feel.”
"If you're doing cardio, don't waste hours of your time doing slow, steady-state cardio,” says Polson. “Not only is that not effective, it's not sustainable for someone looking to integrate fitness into their lives long-term." He explained that performing interval workouts that include short, high-intensity bursts is the best way to make use of your “cardio time” because it will effectively reduce fat and also keep your heart healthy. “Start with a five-minute warm up at medium pace,” he said. “Then alternate one-minute sprints—either faster speed or higher incline—with two- to four-minute medium pace recovery periods. Start with 20-minute sessions, working your way towards 30-minute sessions as you become stronger."
Don’t commit yourself to workouts that aren’t appealing to you. It's pretty much common sense, but this is one of the best ways to make sure that you’ll develop a healthy and routine relationship with exercise. “Pick an activity you enjoy doing,” says Petrina Hamm, an ACE certified personal trainer and independent Team Beachbody coach. “That way, you're more likely to stick to it. If you view it as drudgery or a chore, it'll be that much easier to find excuses not to get your workout in.”
“Don't go hardcore out of the gate,” says Hamm. “I've seen this happen far too many times with friends and clients who think they have to bust their butt at the gym from the get-go to get results. What typically happens is they wind up injured or exhausted and wave the white flag.” If you’re new to exercise, Hamm suggests getting started with workouts that are geared towards beginners instead of jumping right into high-intensity programs like CrossFit or Insanity.
“You can definitely lose weight with cardio exercise alone, but if you don’t incorporate strength training, you may be losing muscle along with body fat, which is not ideal in the long-term,” says Lisa Hisscock, an ACE certified personal trainer and Interval Training Rx coach. “Muscle is our built-in calorie furnace, so the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Thus, the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to lose body fat while you gain lean muscle.” She suggests incorporating at least two strength training sessions per week, working all major muscle groups, and if you’re entirely new to strength training, it’s a good idea to hire a certified trainer to teach you proper form and create a program specific to your goals.
“Realize no one is perfect—if you miss a workout or have a bad week, don't give up,” says Kleckner. “Even if you don't see the results you want right away, realize that getting fit is a long-term thing. If something goes wrong, don't give up on your routine; rather just get back into it.”
“When swim suit time rolls around and you are proud of all of your work, don’t stop there,” says Reed. “This is the fit life. Congratulate yourself on how great you did and continue your workout routine by setting a new health and fitness goal.”