Talon demonstrates a proper plank.

When it’s summertime, you don’t want your living to be wheezy. This is the time of year to be in your absolute best shape, both for showing off your swimsuit body and for having the stamina to enjoy all the various warm-weather outdoor activities.

Talon Smith knows a thing or two about staying in optimum physical condition. In addition to being a 12-year veteran of the United States Navy, Smith has worked as a certified CrossFit trainer since 2012. The California native also is a coach for the USA Weightlifting national team and has helped train six national-level lifters.

So if you want the strength to reel in that big fish or the endurance to handle driving through Baja—or if you simply want to turn heads at the beach—here are a few workouts and fitness tips from Smith to help you get there:

Talon demonstrates squat form.
  • Squats: One of the most basic movements is also one of the most important, according to Smith. Starting from a shoulder-width stance with your heels firmly on the ground and your knees in line with your toes, descend your body until your hips are lower than your knees, then stand back up. A barbell can be held in front of you just below your neck or over your head with a wide grip on the bar.

“That’s a big one,” Smith says. “Obviously it works your legs, but heavy weightlifting actually burns more calories than sustained cardio, because your muscles are breaking down and building back up. It works your core as well and helps get that core stabilization you’re looking for. That’s important for getting shredded.”

  • Planks: A plank hold is one of the best exercises for strengthening your abdominal muscles and glutes. Get into a pushup position on either your hands or elbows, then squeeze your body to create tension and hold.

“You can do this different ways. Regular planks, side planks, planks utilizing a medicine ball,” Smith says. “One good move is to start out the plank on your elbows, then go up to your hands and back down to your elbows. That will really strengthen your core.”

  • Hanging leg raises or knee raises: Hang from a pull-up bar, hands approximately shoulder-width apart, then either extend your legs out to a 90-degree angle or bend your knees and bring them toward your chin.

If you don’t have a pull-up bar, or if you have difficulty maintaining a good grip on the bar, Smith suggests lying on your back and doing leg lifts. Start with your legs 6 inches off the ground, raise them all the way up to 90 degrees without rolling your back, then lower and repeat.

The Man-Maker
  • The Man Maker: Smith calls this complex full-body movement “a Burpee from hell.” Start by holding two dumbbells in a plank position. Do a pushup back into the plank, then lift each dumbbell one at a time to your chest. Then jump to your feet, do a squat, rise, and lift both dumbbells over your head at the same time. Then return to the plank position and repeat.

“That’s going to be a full-body workout,” Smith says. “It will work your chest, lats, legs, core, everything.”

  • Sprints: Strictly in terms of losing weight, Smith says few things are better than high-intensity sprinting. “If you look at a sprinter versus a long-distance runner, sprinters are leaner,” he notes. “That’s because the high intensity involved with sprinting gives you a full-body burn.”
  • Repetition: As with all workouts, the amount of time and intensity depends upon your fitness level and goals. Smith recommends doing eight to 10 reps of each exercise for five to 10 sets.

“The more repetitions the better, even if it means using lighter weights,” he says. “If you really want to get shredded, do five sets of 10 bicep curls, 10 Man Makers, 10 leg lifts, and 10 squats with weight. Do that in a circuit, and it will get you shredded in no time.”

Depending upon your life schedule, Smith recommends exercising for three consecutive days and then taking a day off, or do five days on and two days off. “And on one of your off days you can still do a light run, maybe a half-hour, just to get in a workout,” he says.

  • Diet: Smith stresses that while any of these workout tips will help you get in better shape, the benefits will be diminished if you don’t combine exercise with a healthy diet.

“Abs are made in the kitchen, not just in the gym. You can’t out work a bad diet”

“Abs are made in the kitchen, not just in the gym. You can’t outwork a bad diet,” Smith says. “So if you really want a good summer body, you can’t just do this workout. You have to eat healthy too. Because your summer body is something you need to work on all year.”

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