With beach season in full swing, you're probably looking for ways to make the time you spend in the gym more productive in order to get the perfect beach physique that will garner second glances from all the hot girls digging their toes into the sand.
To get the perfect beach physique, you'll have to tone up that laundry bag you call a body and build some muscle mass in key regions of your body.
The major muscle groups you should focus on are, in order of importance, your abs, chest, biceps, triceps, back, and shoulders. These are all the important muscles in your upper body and the ones that get noticed most.By performing a full upper body workout up to three times a week, you will be sure to hit each muscle frequently enough to see some fast changes, but still allow enough time between sessions for recovery.
Also, since you will hit your triceps and biceps during some chest and back exercises (the ones known as multi-joint exercises), you will indirectly be stimulating more than one muscle group in a single exercise.If you are short on time, your best bet is to perform a single set of at least one exercise for each body part.
This will still allow you to target all the major muscles and will help you maintain your strength. Here is a list of some great exercises that will give you the most bang for your buck as you try to get the perfect beach physique.
Exercise ball crunches
Performing movements on the exercise ball is ideal; as it is not a stable surface, you will have to recruit all your core muscles to stabilize yourself and will, therefore, get a much better complete core workout. To perform this type of exercise, lay with the center of your back on top of a exercise ball, your arms out to the side and your hands behind your head. Curl up and do an abdominal crunch, just as you would if you were lying on the floor. This exercise will primarily target your rectus abdominis (the vertical muscle), while calling in your obliques to stabilize you, and will help you achieve the desired "six-pack" look.
Hanging leg raise
To perform this exercise, grab hold of a pull-up bar or another bar that is high enough for you to hang off of. Once you have a good grasp, slowly bring your knees up to your chest, and then lower them back down. The slower and more controlled you can perform this movement, the greater the benefit. This exercise will also target your rectus abdominis, as well as your hip flexors.
Think of this as the king of all chest exercises, and probably the most frequently performed. Why? It is a compound movement that causes many muscle fibers to fire and ensures more muscle growth. You will be working your pectoralis major muscle, while also indirectly working your triceps and anterior deltoid muscles. The result will be more defined chest muscles.To perform this exercise, lay flat on a bench press machine. Make sure your back is touching the bench at all times (to prevent unnecessary stress on the back joints). Grasp the barbell with both hands placed shoulder width apart and push the barbell away from the rack. Slowly move the barbell down to your chest and then drive it back up to the starting position on a count of two going down and two coming up.
To increase the intensity of this lift, use a cambered bar. This will allow you to increase your range of motion and work the deeper tissue of your chest muscles to a greater extent. Watch out with this version, however, as it does place more stress on the shoulder joint, so if injury is a concern, you are better off with the normal barbell.
Incline dumbbell chest fly
This exercise primarily works the pectoralis major muscle in the chest, and calls upon the anterior deltoid and tricep muscles to act as synergists (helper muscles). To perform it, raise the bench to a 45- to 60-degree angle. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and hoist the weights up so that they are directly in front of you (arms aligned with your shoulders).Slowly move your arms out like you are performing a reverse bear-hugging motion; make sure to concentrate on using your chest muscles to perform the movement. Don't let your arms move past your sides, as this will greatly increase the potential for injury and muscle tears. When your arms are in line with the rest of your body, reverse the action and return to the starting position.
Barbell military press
Using an overhand grip, grasp a barbell with hands slightly farther than shoulder width apart. Bring the barbell up to neck level and then drive it upward, moving your arms over your head. Extend your elbows completely (be careful to not hyperextend, however), lower back down to neck level and repeat. This exercise will primarily target your anterior deltoid muscle in your shoulders and will give them that rounded shape.
This movement will focus more on the lateral (middle) deltoid muscle in the shoulder and will give a nice round appearance to this group of muscles. To start, comfortably grasp a pair of dumbbells by your sides. Slowly move your extended arms upward along the lateral plane of the body (sideways). Keep your elbows slightly bent during the motion to prevent strain on your elbow joints. Keep raising your arms until they are in line with your shoulders or just slightly below, and then lower them back down to your sides.
Bend over at the waist with knees slightly bent. Grasp the barbell with hands shoulder width apart using an overhand grip. Focusing on using the middle muscles in your back, slowly pull the barbell up toward your chest. Then, lower the barbell until it is almost touching the floor.While performing this exercise, it is best to tilt your head up slightly, as it will help to keep your back aligned and maintain proper form. You will primarily use the trapezius muscles during this exercise, and your rhomboids and latissimus dorsi will be working indirectly, which will give your back a wider appearance.
This exercise will help to work your latissimus dorsi muscle and give your back that "V" look — wider at the top and narrower at the waist. Grab the bar of the lat pulldown machine as you sit down on the bench. Lean back slightly and bring the bar down to chest level so it almost touches your collarbone, focusing on using the muscles in your back. Once you have lowered the bar, slowly let it rise back up to the starting position.
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Grasp a pair of dumbbells by your sides. In a controlled manner, bring the dumbbells up to your shoulders by bending your arms at the elbow. While performing this motion, be sure to keep your elbows tight against your sides to ensure that your biceps are doing all the work and that your back does not start to sway.After you have curled the weight up, return it to the starting position in an equally controlled motion. You will be targeting your biceps' brachii muscles, along with your brachialis as a helper muscle. Developing these two muscles will help you achieve a greater arm circumference.
Incline dumbell curl
This exercise is very similar to the dumbbell curl, except that instead of standing up while you perform it, you will be sitting on an incline bench. This change of angle will increase your range of motion and will help to stimulate a greater variety of muscle fibers in your bicep muscles. Perform the exercise in the same manner you would the dumbbell curl; however, you will be able to lower the weight slightly more due to the fact that you are on an incline bench. The muscles used for this exercise are your biceps brachii, brachialis, bracioradialis, and anterior deltoid.
Since the muscles that contribute the most to the size of your arms are your triceps, be sure to focus on them as well. Grasp one dumbbell with both hands and place it directly above your head. Slowly bend at the elbows and lower the weight toward the middle of your back, as far down as you can comfortably go. Then, raise the weight back up until it is overhead once again. This movement will work your tricep brachii muscle, which will also contribute to larger, more defined arms.
This is a great exercise to really torture your triceps close to the end of a great workout. For the beginner version, place your hands on the edge of a chair or bench, with your back facing the chair and your fingers pointing away from the back of the chair. Slowly bend at the elbows and lower you body until your shoulders are in line with the chair seat. Then, push yourself back up to the starting position. To make this exercise more difficult, simply place your feet on the edge of a chair so that you are completely off the ground. This movement targets your tricep brachii muscles, and also calls in your anterior deltoid and pectoralis muscles as synergists.
Sets & Reps
Complete 2 to 3 sets of each exercise, lifting heavy enough weights that you can only complete 8 to 10 reps with good form. This will provide enough stimuli to get the muscle units firing and create tiny microtears in the tissues (and thus stimulate new muscle growth). Your rest periods should be around 60 seconds between sets. For exercises that only use your body weight, such as the chair dips, do each set to maximum reps.Since you are targeting some of the smaller upper body muscles in the major exercises, such as the chest press, you will be able to see maximum results while still only completing two different exercises for each body part.
Don't Forget Your Cardio
Finally, in addition to this workout, you should perform regular cardio sessions since this will help to decrease body fat and help define your muscles. Perform cardio on the days you don't lift weights, for a total of 3 to 4 sessions per week.We recommend performing 1 or 2 higher-intensity, shorter-duration sessions, along with 1 or 2 longer, moderate-intensity sessions so you reap all the metabolic effects that cardio training has to offer.If you are having trouble finding the time to perform your entire weight training sessions, a great idea is to perform your ab training on days that you are doing cardio.
Since good ab muscles are very important for obtaining the beach body look, by ensuring you hit them regularly, you will increase your chances of making progress toward your goal. By performing them with cardio, you will also decrease the amount of time you have to spend in the gym completing your strength training routine.
Get That Beach Body
If you follow this workout program, you will help to increase your muscle strength and get a great-looking upper body that you will be confident to show off during the summer months.