5 Workouts To Help You Tone, Trim, and Build Muscle This Summer

Work your way to a stronger body.


Kate Kraschnefski |

Reinvigorating our workout routine when summer (and the new year) hits is a great way to give us that boost. Ready to build muscle, sweat, and work your way to a stronger body? Let’s get started with these summer workouts.

1. Outdoor circuit 

Now that the weather is warmer, training outdoors certainly has its appeal! You can enjoy the benefits of sunshine, fresh outdoor air and natural light; they invigorate and provide more energy for the mind and body.

Incorporating both cardio and strength training is a great way to improve your body composition (or what many of us refer to as toning). 

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Combine fast walking or running intervals between steps or park benches and then stop for sets of 15-20 reps of an exercise like step ups, push ups or tricep dips. Try to go for 45-60 minutes in total and aim for short bursts of cardio between “stations”, using the strength exercises as an opportunity to bring the heart rate down.  

Get to know where the outdoor fitness stations are in your local area and incorporate them in.  Enjoy the gorgeous weather and get outside. 

When training outdoors, take account of the possible harm caused by excessive sunlight, such as dehydration and sunburn. Protective sunscreen and hydration are a must!

READ MORE: 10 Mineral Sunscreens That Won’t Damage Your Skin… Or The Environment

2. HIRT 

You’ve heard of HIIT, but ‘HIRT’ or ‘High Intensity Resistance Training’ is a girl’s best friend. HIRT is similar to HIIT, but we slow the movements down and add resistance. Here is a sample HIRT workout:

Equipment: Two dumbbells

As many rounds as possible (AMRAP) for 15 mins:

  • 5 slow push-ups
  • 10 dumbbell bent over rows
  • 10 dumbbell overhead press 
  • 10 dumbbell squats

Rest 30-60 seconds (as much as you need to work again with intensity and great form).

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HIRT delivers fabulous bang-for-buck as you are getting both muscle-building and cardiovascular benefits, all within a short period of time.

3. Weight training

Resistance training builds lean muscle mass, increasing our body’s ability to burn fat. This goes a long way if you are looking to improve your body composition.  On top of that, strength training helps us feel embodied and empowered.

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If you are unsure of what moves to perform, consider these 5 key movement patterns:

  • Squatting: leg exercises such as squats, lunges and leg press.
  • Horizontal pushing: like a chest press.
  • Horizontal pulling: such as a seated row.
  • Vertical pushing: movements pushing away overhead like overhead presses.
  • Vertical pulling: pulling towards you from above like a lat pulldown.  

Aim for 2-3 sessions per week through all of these movement patterns, and try to leave at least a day of rest between working muscle groups.  You can always enlist a qualified personal trainer to help you get started. 

4. Group Fitness

If the colder months have sent your motivation levels into hibernation, group fitness could be just what you need.  

Check out the timetable at your closest gym and you are likely to see a huge range of options from dancing, to indoor cycling, boxing and circuits. Many gyms will give you a free pass or trial membership if you are looking to try before you buy, or you can check out apps like FitKey.  

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Participating in a group fitness class will provide you with guidance and direction as well as that social connection we often love and crave.

5. Beach workouts

Nothing says South African Summer more than heading to the beach, so why not factor in a workout?  The environment of the beach creates options to facilitate manipulation of intensity and bring variety into a workout. For example:

  • On firm sand, walk or jog for longer periods
  • On sand dunes, do hill sprints.  Try them in 20 second bursts and recover when you walk back down the hill.   
  • On soft sand, do walking lunges.  The instability of the sand will increase muscle activation.  Try 3 sets of 20-30 walking lunges, with 30-60 seconds rest in between. 
  • In the water, if the conditions are safe you can swim or you can go into waist deep water and simply walk or “jog”.

Perform your favourite from the list above or a combination of all for 30-45 minutes. Then enjoy chilling out on the beach after.

*This article was originally published on Women’s Health AU

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