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The 4 Best Exercises To Get In Summer Shape — Fast!

You could see a difference in just a few short weeks.

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illustration of women working out getting ready for their summer body, exercise, work out, fitness
Celeste Barta
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Here comes summer — and with it, the likelihood of bearing more flesh (think sleeveless tops, shorty shorts and swimsuits) than you have for months. If you’re ready for the warmth but not feeling 100 percent sure about your “summer body,” fear not: adding strength-training moves to your regular routine will help you strengthen and tone your muscles and burn extra calories. The key is doing compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups and give you more bang for your exercise buck.

As a former ACE-certified personal trainer, most of my clients were women in their 40s and 50s whose goals almost always included losing weight and looking fitter — meaning toned and lean, not bulky. I’ve said it a thousand times — lifting weights won’t bulk you up. It will help you create muscle that incinerates calories, strengthens bones and keeps your joints and ligaments flexible.

The Magic of Compound Moves

A compound exercise works more than one muscle group at the same time. So, instead of doing a set of biceps curls, you perform biceps curls while doing squats (my favorite move for targeting your butt, legs and even inner thighs). You increase the challenge to your body, which burns more calories and gives you more results in less time.

Here are the four best exercises to get your bod summer-ready in just a few weeks. For each exercise, you’ll need a set of dumbbells; choose a heavy weight so that the last few repetitions (reps) are challenging. Do one to three sets of each exercise every other day, and you’ll see results! 

Squat with Shoulder Press (targets butt, leg muscles and shoulders)

illustration of woman doing a Squat with Shoulder Press
Celeste Barte

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, your toes pointed out slightly, holding dumbbells in your hands at shoulder height, palms facing each other. Bend your knees and squat, lowering your butt closer to the floor (as if you were going to sit on a toilet behind you) until your thighs are nearly parallel with the floor. Squeeze your glutes and return to the standing position; as you stand up, press the dumbbells up toward the ceiling above your shoulders. Lower the dumbbells; that’s one rep. Bend your knees and repeat for eight to 12 reps.

Lunge with Biceps Curl (targets legs including calves and front of arms)

illustration of woman doing a Lunge with Biceps Curl
Celeste Barta

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, holding dumbbells with palms forward, facing the front of your thighs. Step forward with your right foot and bend your knee to make a 90-degree angle as you bend your elbows to pull the dumbbells up toward your chest. Step back with your right foot as you lower the dumbbells back down. Repeat, stepping forward with your left foot this time; that’s 1 rep. Do eight to 12.

Deadlift with Row (targets butt and hamstrings and upper back)

illustration of woman doing a Deadlift with Row
Celeste Barta

Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, holding dumbbells with palms facing the front of your thighs. Stabilize your core by imagining drawing your navel toward your back and keeping your legs straight, hinge forward from the hips to lower the dumbbells toward the floor just past your knees. Keeping your shoulders stable, bend your elbows to pull the dumbbells toward your abdomen before slowly lowering them. Squeeze your butt muscles to pull yourself back to a standing position; that’s one rep. Do eight to 12.


Plie Squat with Overhead Triceps Extension (targets butt, inner thighs and backs of arms)

illustration of woman doing a Plie Squat with Overhead Triceps Extension
Celeste Barta

Stand with your feet about six inches outside your hips, toes pointed slightly out, holding a dumbbell in both hands above your head. Bend your knees and sit back as you bend your elbows at the same time, keeping your elbows above your shoulders, to bring the dumbbell behind your head; when your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor, push back up to a standing position as your squeeze your triceps (the muscles on the back of your arms) to bring the dumbbell up over your head. That’s one rep; do eight to 12.

Spot illustrations by Celeste Barta

What sort of exercise routine do you enjoy? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health