The emergency fitness guide to looking good on the beach
Summer is almost here, which means there are only a few short months until it's time for swim gear. If your body doesn't look the way you want it to, this also means it's time to get back into the gym and crush some fat-burning and muscle-building workouts. Not sure which of the hundreds of exercises to choose from? No problem—I'm going to simplify things and give you the three essential moves to look great (and feel comfortable) at the beach by building muscle in the right places.
1. Barbell Overhead Press
I'll start with the upper body because, well, where else would I start? When most people think of building a chiseled torso, they think of the bench press. But in terms of functional strength—i.e. strength that translates to real world activities—the barbell overhead press is superior (and actually pre-dates the bench press).
With the overhead press, your shoulders, traps, and arms get bigger and stronger while your lower body and core work like crazy to stabilize your torso. No bench or spotter required—just take a heavy barbell and push it over your head.
If you've never pressed before, do this exercise 1 to 2 times per week for 6 sets of 5 reps. Increase your weight from workout to workout.
Sculpted biceps, wide back, thick forearms, and healthy shoulders—that's where chin-ups deliver impressive results. Grabbing a bar and pulling your entire body up will develop the upper-body strength that a combination of lat pulldowns and bicep curls could never do.
While doing a chin-up, make sure to pull your shoulders down and back as you ascend. Also, don't swing your body. If you can't do a bodyweight chin-up, use a resistance band for assistance, and stay patient. Once bodyweight chin-ups get too easy, use a weight belt or weighted vest to continue building muscle.
To start out, do this exercise 1 to 2 times per week for 6 sets of 5 reps. Increase your weight from workout to workout.
3. Kettlebell Front Squats
No one wants to walk around in swim trunks looking like they skipped leg day for the last 11 years. Instead, do squats, a heavy lower-body exercise that adds size and strength to your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
The beauty of using kettlebells for a squat is you target your upper body at the same time. You'll notice that carrying two heavy kettlebells in the "rack position" will exhaust your shoulders, traps, abs, and arms. The result: a total-body workout.
Do this 2 to 3 times per week for 8 sets of 5 reps. (Your legs are stronger, so they can handle more frequency and volume.) Increase your weight from workout to workout.
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert and founder of groombuilder.com.