Let’s be honest. You knew summer was coming, and yet you still didn’t make it to the gym as much as you wanted to last month. Now there is a gay pool party every weekend, and you’re trying to figure out exactly how many days you have left to give up carbs before the next one. Yes, there is no perfect beach body, but we all know there are certain things we notice when someone is in a skimpy swimsuit. Whether you like ’em slim, husky, or somewhere in between, a full chest, shoulders like boulders, a poppin’ booty, and a toned midsection are on almost everyone’s menu.
Hit these exercises hard before the next time you hit the beach, and you’re sure to make your best impression. Even though you totally devoured that burger and fries last night … with two beers.
1. Incline Chest Press With Dumbbells
Whether you have a big chest or not (mine is definitely on the smaller side), a strong upper chest makes it look bigger. And it’s all about smoke and mirrors, isn’t it?
Not all chest exercises were made the same. Chances are you’re using a lot of other muscles to get those super heavy weights up instead of your chest. To start, take the incline only one step up from flat. This helps ensure you use you upper chest more,and not your shoulders. Puff up your chest as much as possible and roll your shoulders back. When you press, make sure to keep your upper back and rear deltoid against the bench and avoid any rounding in of the chest. Go as heavy as you can without compromising your form for three sets of 10-15 reps.
PRO TIP: You can increase the load on the muscle by playing with tempo. Try lowering the dumbbell for a slow three counts, then exploding up in one quick count. The deep V-neck T-shirt you got last weekend will thank you.
2. Spiderman Push-ups
Nothing delivers a pump better than a good old-fashioned push-up. Well, push-ups. And whoever is Madonna’s dermatologist. Break free from your basic version and try this variation to not only add more unilateral work to your chest (that means one at a time), but get the added benefit of some core work as you go. As you lower your chest to the floor, bring one knee far outside to the elbow. Taking the knee to the side adds a little uneven weight, and your obliques and stabilizers are on fire to keep your balance. Push up and repeat on the other side for at least 15 reps (right and left is one rep).
PRO TIP: Elbows should go back 45 degrees from your shoulder when doing a push-up, not straight out to the side. From overhead your body should resemble an arrow, not a T shape.
3. Shoulder Press With Dumbbells
Full and round shoulders are essential for any beach bod. They widen your frame, make your waist look smaller, and give your friend something to cry on after that guy he met last night — who he was totes sure he was going to marry — never called back.
The good news is, a shoulder press works all heads of the shoulder, so you can really go hard with this one move when short on time. Bring the weights to your chest, with palms facing each other or toward your face. Open up in a half-circle motion reaching overhead. Don’t lock out the elbow completely, keep your lower back down, and repeat for three sets of 10-15 reps.
PRO TIP: Test your strength and work your core by sitting off the bench instead of leaning against it. Chances are you won’t be able to go as heavy, but that means you aren’t using the bench to cheat the weight up.