Your four-week summer fitness plan

Want to get fit and challenge yourself this summer? Try this four-week exercise plan devised by fitness expert Dean Hodgkin

As creatures of habit there’s a great danger that, once you discover a workout you like, you want to stick with it. Be aware, however, after a relatively short period of time you will reach a plateau, whereby your fitness gains will cease. The answer is to get progressive, challenging your body (and mind) not just to execute a greater number of repetitions but also to undertake more difficult adaptations of each exercise.

In order to continue to make sculpting improvements, you have to ensure your muscles are always being challenged in some way. As you become stronger, therefore, it’s vital to increase one variable at least, otherwise you may find your hard labour bears no fruit.

Guidelines

Perform the exercises three times each week with a day’s rest between. Beginners should aim for one to two sets of 12 repetitions, with three sets of 15 repetitions being the goal for regular exercisers. If you don’t have hand weights, tins of beans or bags of sugar are ideal substitutes.

WEEK 1 WEEK 2 WEEK 3 WEEK 4
No ifs, just butts Perform squats with your feet apart, from standing, by bending your knees and pushing your backside out behind you. Keep your abs pulled in throughout the exercise. Perform single leg squats holding a chair for balance, ensuring your hips, chest and shoulders remain facing the front, so that there is no twist in the supporting knee. Remember to repeat on the other leg. Perform single leg squats with no chair for balance. Perform single leg squats with weights in both hands.
Arms and dangerous Perform static seated dips on the floor with your hands behind your hips and your bum lifted off the floor, bending your elbows to lower your bum to the ground and then straightening them to lift again. Perform seated dips on the floor with one leg raised. Perform seated dips between two chairs. Perform seated dips between two chairs with weights resting on your lap.
Thighs the limit Perform static lunges, with one foot a stride length in front of the other and the feet hip width apart for balance. Bend the knees to lower yourself down towards the floor. Perform rear lunges, stepping backwards and lowering down as before. Progress to rear lunges off a stair or step. Progress to rear lunges off stairs plus a jump to switch legs.
Pecs appeal Perform incline press-ups on your knees with your hands on a step and your feet on the floor. Starting with your arms straight, bend the elbows to lower your chest towards the step and then press to return to the extended position. Perform flat press-ups on your knees, with your hands and legs on the floor. Progress to decline press-ups on your knees with your hands on the floor and your knees on a step. Progress to decline press-ups with your hands on the floor and your feet on a step.
Waist management Lie on your back with your arms and legs lifted towards the ceiling. The arms and legs should not be locked out, so both the knees and elbows should be slightly bent. Lower your legs alternately to the floor, keeping the knees slightly bent and your tummy pulled in. Lower the opposite arm and leg alternately Lower the opposite arm and leg with weights in your hands.

Fuel your workout

Try some of Dean’s favourite healthy snacks to energise you before your workout

  • Nuts, especially walnuts and pistachios
  • Frozen grapes (ideal for hot days!)
  • A protein bar
  • Kale chips
  • Edamame beans
  • Tuna, sweetcorn and mayo
  • Frozen Greek yogurt
  • Eggs (boiled, scrambled or poached)
  • Cottage cheese with celery
  • Peanut butter with apple slices
  • Dark chocolate (a small portion!)

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