Summer is right around the corner, which means your kids will be out of school, you likely have some vacations and weekend trips planned, and your evenings will be a lot sunnier.
It’s hard to want to spend ANY time in a gym, nevermind 60+ minutes, when the weather is nice and all we want to do is either hit the beach or enjoy a glass of rose on an outdoor patio, amiright?
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to spend a ton of time working out, but you CAN spend just a little bit of time staying consistent… especially while on those summer getaways or on the days you’d rather be anywhere but in the gym.
When it comes to fitness, especially during the summer or around the holidays, one key to getting the maximum results in the shortest amount of time possible is to be smart about your exercise selection.
Meaning, don’t spend the 20 minutes you have focusing ONLY on single muscle isolation exercises like biceps curls and triceps extensions. Those certainly have their time and place, but when time is of the essence and you need something intense and quick-hitting, it’s best to choose a little more efficiently.
To get the most bang for your buck in a limited amount of time, full body exercises are the way to go. These are the ones that will allow you to work multiple muscle groups at one time, perform better in your everyday activities (yay for functional fitness!), AND let you burn the most calories while doing them.
Below you’ll find some of my favorite bodyweight exercises that fall into the efficient and effective full body category so you’ll be well-equipped for your summer fitness routine:
Bang For Your Buck Bodyweight Exercises
Pushups should be done at an elevation that allows you to perform each rep with good form. If that’s not the ground, then you can place your hands on an incline or elevation such as a box, bench, wall, etc. Place your hands directly underneath or just slightly wider than your shoulders, and bring your feet hip width apart. With a stiff core and squeezed glutes, lower your body down as far to the ground as you can control, angling your elbows out to no more than 45 degrees. Your body should move as one unit without allowing the low back to sag. Immediately reverse the movement to push yourself back up to the start position.
Grip a bar with palms facing you for chinups or away from you for pullups. Pulling your elbows down and back, pull yourself as high as you can. Keep your body in a straight line and under tension. When your chin clears the bar or your chest touches, lower yourself with control. You can cross your feet behind or in front of you, but be mindful of swinging the legs, arching the back, etc.
If you can’t do a full unassisted chinup yet, not to worry! There are plenty of variations you can start with. Try hanging with straight arms from a bar, hanging with flexed arms above the bar at the top of a chinup position, jumping up to the bar and lowering slowly, using your feet as an assist, using a band as an assist, etc.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Slowly drop your hips down so that you are in a squat, keeping the hips back and chest tall. Return to starting position. Be careful not to arch too much in the lower back or let your knees drive too far forward over your toes. Really concentrate on slowly “pulling” yourself toward the ground while maintaining your tall spine.
With your shoulders directly over your hips, step back with one foot and lower into the lunge until both knee angles are at 90 degrees. Keeping your weight evenly distributed between your front heel and the ball of your back foot, press through the front heel and glute to return to the standing position.
5. Step Ups
Stand facing a bench. Place one leg up on the bench so that your entire foot is on the platform. Drive through the heel of the front leg, and squeeze through your glute as you raise yourself up. Return to the starting position. Try not to push off the back/bottom foot at all. You can adjust the difficulty of your step up by adjusting the elevation of the sturdy platform you are stepping to. If you don’t have access to a bench, consider a chair, step, etc.
6. Hip Thrusts
Position your upper back across a bench or another strong and stable flat surface. With your upper back pressing against the bench, your feet flat on the ground, and your arms gently resting out to the sides, lower your hips. Squeeze the glutes, and then raise your hips as far up as you can while maintaining a neutral spine. Pause for a second or two, then return to the start, and repeat. These can also be done as a single leg variation, with one foot lifted slightly off the ground.
7. Plank Variations
To get the most out of your planks, don’t try to hold them for as long as possible. When you hold a plank for an extended amount of time, the parts of your core that should be working likely aren’t because your body will start to overcompensate. You are better off performing something like an RKC plank for less time to get more core activation or adding some variations such as the cross knee planks you see here, slow mountain climbers, planks with lateral toe taps, etc. The key with all of these is to keep everything super tight, controlled, and under tension.
8. Box Jumps
Box jumps are one of my favorite plyometric exercises because holy metabolic boost! The thing is, most people butcher them. To correctly perform a box jump, stand in front of a bench, step, box, or some kind of sturdy surface with your feet hip width apart. Bend your knees, swing your arms backward, and use momentum to hop both feet onto the bench. Land softly in your squat, into the heels with your hips back, not into the toes which will propel the knees forward. Once you’ve landed in the squat, make sure to stand up all the way so that your legs straighten, squeezing the glutes. Most people miss this piece! Step down one foot at a time before repeating. Do NOT jump down with two feet, as this can cause potential injury to your Achilles tendon.
And for a bonus bang for your buck bodyweight exercise, sprints!
Which you can read all about in this blog post. 😉
A lot of people think you can’t get strong or fit with just bodyweight exercises, but I totally disagree. No, you aren’t going for heavy weight lifts, but bodyweight moves allow you to really master your body’s movement patterns so that when you *do* add weight, your form will be correct, your body will understand how to move properly as a unit, and you’ll be less likely to get injured because you’ll be steady and stable.
And for those upcoming days this summer when you don’t feel like being in the gym, you’re traveling, or time is tight, understanding what types of exercises to do to get the most out of a quick n dirty workout is going to be key for your overall consistency.
Readers, let’s chat! What are your favorite bodyweight exercises? How do you stay consistent with your fitness during the summer?
Did this post resonate with you? Then you may be interested in joining my FREE 5-Day Cardio Clarity Challenge that kicks off on June 5th! During the challenge, I will be sending participants one workout a day that can be completed anytime, anywhere, and in under twenty minutes, so you’ll have a nice collection of bodyweight workouts to choose from this summer! Along with the free daily workouts, there will also be a daily discussion taking place in my free Facebook fitness group. In these discussions, I will be sharing the exact steps I took to end my crazy workout ways and get not only my life back, but a toned and lean body too. We’ll chat about how YES it’s possible to look and feel amazing without spending hours in the gym or using a ton of fancy equipment. Want in!? Get all the info here or sign up directly here!