Summer is creeping up on us. The sun's out, the trees are in bloom and the sky is clear. Gone are the cold and dry winter months. If you have a new desire to get back in shape, start the fun-in-the-sun season off right by incorporating these three exercises in your daily workouts to build muscle. (See also Training Apparel to Help You Stay Cool During Summer Workouts and 4 Ways to Have Your Best Summer Yet.)
Push-Ups: Pecs, Delts and Triceps
Push-Ups are an excellent exercise because they work the entire upper body. When performing traditional Push-Ups, always:
- Keep your legs extended and your toes on the floor.
- Have your hands on the floor with your arms extended under your shoulders.
- Keep your back aligned and your core firm.
Modifications to target different muscles
- Place your hands together with your index fingers and thumbs touching.
- Start out in traditional push-up position (hands and arms parallel to shoulders).
- Move each arm out about two inches.
Pectorals (inner/outer clavicular)
- Start out in traditional push-up position.
- Move each arm in about two inches.
Pectorals (inner/outer sternal)
- Perform traditional push-ups with your hands on the floor and your arms extended parallel to the shoulders.
3-in-1 (triceps, deltoids, pectorals)
- Start in the position for working your triceps (hands together, index fingers and thumbs touching).
- Cross one hand directly in front of the other.
Modified Bicycle Kicks: Abs and Obliques
A simple way to get your midsection toned is to target your abdominals and obliques; and a great exercise to obtain eye-popping results without machinery is the Bicycle Kick. This exercise works the upper and lower abs while also targeting the obliques.
To perform this exercise:
- Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your elbows pointing out.
- With your right leg straight and off the floor, bend your left leg and bring your knee to your chest.
- Lift your opposite shoulder off the floor and twist your body to bring your elbow to your bent knee.
- Performing this exercise should look like you're riding a bicycle (elbow to knee, left to right, right to left).
Squats: Glutes, Hips and Thighs
Squats are a great way to start a muscle-building plan. With this exercise, you use your ankle, knee and hip joints to strengthen the good stuff: your quads, hamstrings, glutes, back and core, calves and other muscles.
When performing this exercise, maintain perfect form:
- Face forward with your chest up and out.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider for a more intense burn).
- Either extend your arms out in front of you for balance or stretch them above your head (whichever position is more comfortable for you).
- When you squat, it should look like you are sitting in an invisible chair, with your thighs parallel to the floor.
- Your upper body may slightly bend forward.
- When returning to start position, push through your heels while keeping your body tight.