Getting In Shape for the Bikini Season

Now that summertime is in full swing, you’ll most likely be spending much more time laying out by the pool, swimming in the lake, hanging out or surfing at the beach. After months of cool (or cold) weather, you’re ready for a few months of sunshine. But is your body? If you’ve spent the winter hibernating, chances are the answer is no. I’m not going to promise you thin thighs in 30 days or a six-pack in two easy weeks, but it’s not too late to start getting in shape.

I’ve selected three exercises you can do outdoors to give you the most bang for your buck. They are time-efficient and target almost every major muscle group.. You can’t easily shed 20 pounds of excess body fat in a few weeks, but you can achieve stronger and more defined muscles in that time frame.

Exercise 1: Modified Pull-Ups

Find a handrail that’s about waist high, ensuring it will support your weight. Grab the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width, overhand grip and slide under the bar. Extend your legs out in front with your weight on your heels. Start with arms fully extended, then exhale and pull yourself up by bending your elbows. Your upper chest or neck should almost touch the bottom of the bar. Inhale and lower yourself until arms are fully extended. To lessen the challenge, pull feet closer to your butt.

Target areas: arms, shoulders, back.

Exercise 2: Alternating forward lunges

The lunge is one of the most effective exercises for targeting the lower body, especially the glutes. Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes pointed forward. Step forward with the left leg as your right leg bends slightly. The right toes stay on the ground. The left knee bends once you place the left foot on the ground, lowering your body into a lunge position. The left knee should be over the left ankle as you lower down, and during the movement bend forward slightly at the hips, keeping your back straight. In one powerful movement, firmly push off with the front leg to propel yourself back to the starting position. Repeat on the other leg. Keep the abdominal muscles engaged during the entire sequence.

Target areas: legs, hips, butt, core.

Exercise 3: Bent Knee Push-ups

Starting position: Start on hands and knees. Walk the arms forward so that your body forms a straight line from your knees to your head. Your hands should be placed a bit wider than and no further forward than your shoulders. Keep your body rigid by contracting the abdominal muscles without holding your breath. Slowly bend your elbows, keeping them close to the sides of your body or flaring outwards just slightly as you lower your body toward the ground. When the elbows reach 90 degrees – the upper arms are parallel to the ground – reverse the action by pushing yourself up with the arms until they are straight.

Target areas: arms, shoulders, chest, core.

For each exercise, focus on slow, controlled movements to get the most benefit in terms of toning, firming and strengthening your muscles, and also to ensure safety during your workout. Breathe regularly throughout each movement, exhaling on the hardest phase of the exercise, and inhaling on the easier phase. You should spend no more than 90 seconds maximum on each exercise. Start off by doing one set of 8-12 reps of each exercise 2 – 3 times weekly on non-consecutive days, and progress up to two or three sets of 8-12 reps of each exercise 2 – 3 times weekly on non-consecutive days. Additional exercises that highlight trouble spots like triceps, abdominals and thighs can be found at

Ken Alan is a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and a lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology at California State University Fullerton. He is a chapter author in a number of textbooks and his company, AeroBeat, was the first to produce music CDs specifically for active workouts.

Read Original Article: Getting In Shape for the Bikini Season »