Spring break is right around the corner. In roughly six to eight weeks, swimsuits, suntans, and pool parties will be in full swing. Thankfully, that’s just enough time to get fit. In this article, I’ll discuss my top seven strength-building exercises to get back into shape before spring break. These exercises collectively hit all the major muscle groups in your body.
You can perform these exercises as one full-body workout, or split them into upper and lower-body days as you see fit. Ideally, perform the full routine once a week, or split it into two sessions if you’d rather break things up.
For maximum strength gains and some muscle gains, use a weight that causes you to fail between four to eight repetitions. If you want to go for more muscle size growth with some strength gains, use a weight that causes failure between eight to 12 repetitions.
I recommend you begin this routine soon rather than later since it will take a minimum of four weeks to see major results. Without further ado, let’s get into these productive strength-building exercises that’ll have you ready to hit the beach! And next, don’t miss 8 Incredible Side Effects of Giving Up Cheese
No strength program is complete without squats, period. Squats hit all the major muscle groups in your lower body as well as create serious strength in the core and torso due to the stabilization demands.
You can perform squats with a barbell, dumbbells, or other external resistance. Barbell squats allow the most weight to be lifted, because you position the bar across your upper back, allowing you to support it with your full body.
To perform squats, begin by placing your feet hip-width distance apart and your weight equipment (ie barbell, dumbbells) positioned appropriately. Sit back and down with your hips while keeping your spine braced and neutral. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor or below. Drive through both feet to return to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Deadlifts are a must for a strong, well-developed lower body. I recommend performing deadlifts with a barbell, but you can use dumbbells as well.
To perform deadlifts, begin with your feet shoulder-width apart, standing with the weight in front of your shins. Grip the barbell with an overhand or alternating grip, or overhand grip on both if using dumbbells. Take a deep breath, brace your core, and keep your spine neutral. Squeeze your glutes, and push through the floor to stand up until your hip crease is fully locked out. Return the weight to starting position with the same technique. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Lunges are one of the best strength-building exercises that build unilateral stability and help address deficits between each side of your lower body. They are great for glute and quad strengthening and muscle growth. I recommend performing lunges with dumbbells held in each hand.
To perform lunges, stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Grip the weights in each hand, palms facing inward. Take a big step forward with your right leg. Lower your back knee toward the ground, and bend your front knee into a lunge position. Drive through your front foot, and return to the starting position. Repeat on both sides for the target repetitions.
Pull-ups are the best upper back exercise when it comes to strength and size in the lats, rhomboids, and arms. You will need a pull-up bar to do these. If they are too difficult, you can use an assisted pull-up machine or the lat pulldown machine as a substitute.
To perform pull-ups, grip the bar with an overhand, underhand, or neutral grip and hang. Pull your body up by engaging your arms and back. Aim to reach your chest to the bar. Keep your core engaged, and avoid swinging your body. Lower to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.
The overhead press builds major muscles in the shoulders and triceps. Dumbbell and barbell overhead presses are equally as effective, but dumbbells are more forgiving on beginners.
To perform overhead presses, begin standing with your feet shoulder-width distance apart and the weights positioned at chest height. Press the dumbbells or barbell overhead until your elbows are locked out. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Dumbbell bench presses are great for building chest and tricep muscles. You will need a flat bench to perform this exercise in addition to the dumbbells.
To perform a dumbbell bench press, begin on a bench, lying flat with the dumbbells positioned next to your chest. Extend your arms straight up until your elbows are locked out. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.
The last of these strength-building exercises is the single-arm bent-over dumbbell row. Dumbbell rows are great for building the back and biceps. I prefer doing dumbbell rows because they are easy on the lower back and prevent one side from overcompensating.
To perform dumbbell rows, begin bent over with your hand on a bench and a dumbbell in your other hand, hanging down. Row the dumbbell to chest height by bringing your elbow toward the ceiling until your upper arm is parallel to your torso. Lower the dumbbell to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.