Whether you practice your breaststroke at your local pool, hone your backhand on the neighborhood tennis courts, or you simply want to focus on improving your overall health and wellness, summer workouts just hit a little different. After all, what’s better than your quads feeling the sun and your ears filled with a pump-up mix as you gut out one more mile around the track? You got this, the warm wind seems to say.
That said, deciding on the right summer workouts can leave you sweating. Should you chalk up your hands and rock climb? Or, should you paddleboard into the splendid summer sunset?
Fortunately, we’re here to give you the summer workouts that’ll tone you up and never let you down. So, lace up those sneakers, crank up that 90s mix, and let’s get to work.
#1 Swim For Strength
Whether on the beach or pool, swimming is one of the best ways to beat the summer heat. From freestyle to backstroke, butterfly to breast, swimming has everything you need to improve strength and cardiovascular health.
In fact, swimming may be one of the best exercises for all-around health.1
Moreover, you don’t have to be Michael Phelps lapping the competition to show off your aquatic side. All you need is a pair of goggles, a swimsuit, and the desire to turn any body of water into your personal workout room.
With that said, let’s dive into a few swimming workouts designed to increase your cardio—and fun—this summer.
Depending on the water type, swimming allows you to focus on specific muscle groups and objectives.
Do you want to build endurance with cardio? Power your way through the pool. Want to build strength while developing your back and legs? Try focusing on your backstroke.
Here are the best swim workouts for each water type:2
- Lap it up at the pool – This workout assumes you’re swimming in a 25-meter pool. (If your pool is smaller or larger, you’ll have to adjust accordingly). First, swim 200 meters in the stroke of your choice. Then, swim another 200 meters in a different stroke. Repeat until you’ve swam all four strokes for a total of 800 meters.
- Swim against the ocean’s current – Here’s how to kick your swimming session up a notch: If you live near the sea, you have the opportunity to use the ocean’s current as resistance. To start, jog on the beach for ten minutes. Then, sprint into the ocean, swimming as hard as possible against the current for four minutes. Take a minute’s rest. Then, swim hard against the current for another four minutes before taking another minute’s rest. Repeat for twenty minutes.
- Challenge a friend to a lake race – Swimming in the lake combines the benefits of the pool’s placidity with the ocean’s occasional roughness. Use the lake’s characteristics to your advantage by challenging a friend to a best-of-five lake sprint. The catch? Each race has different rules you must abide by. For instance, if your first race is “backstroke only,” your next race might be limited to butterfly. You might even limit your next race to “just arms.”
The muscle groups that swimming effects include the following:
- Wrist Flexors
Be careful when swimming, though, because if you don’t swim in proper form, you could end up in serious injury.
Swimming outside allows you to feel the wind and sun while gliding through the sparkling blue water.
However, if swimming outside isn’t an option, consider indoor pools. Some fitness centers include traditional gyms with swimming pools. That way, you can break a sweat lifting weights before cooling down with a few easy laps.
#2 Train on the Trail
Trail running combines the thrill of running with the adventure of nature. It’s a sport that demands attention and perseverance but rewards you with majestic views and the scent of pine trees swaying in late summer breezes.
It’s also one of the best summer exercises you can do for both your physical and mental health.3
Here’s what you’ll need to start putting in the miles on mountain trails, sandy beaches, and interesting backroads:
- Trail shoes – While it may seem obvious that you’ll need shoes, trail running requires a different type of running shoe than other running activities. Look for shoes that have terrific traction and maximum cushioning. That way, your body will remain stable as you sprint over roots and jog between junipers.
- Hydration vest – One of trail running’s primary benefits is its seclusion. Some runs may take you miles from civilization as you trek through truly awesome terrains. However, this also means you’ll need to be prepared—especially when it comes to hydration. Hydration vests provide you ample water while keeping your form sleek and unencumbered by water bottles.
- Navigation and first aid equipment – A compass, GPS, and first aid kit are a must for trail running. That’s because trails can sometimes be misleading. One moment you’re dashing through dogwoods, and the next, you’re completely sidetracked with a small cut on your ankle. Like a hydration vest, navigation and first aid equipment can help you prepare for the unexpected.
Now that you know what you’ll need to jog through even the toughest terrain let’s explore one of the best trail running workouts: the inverted pyramid.
The Inverted Pyramid
Although its name sounds like the start of an archeological quest, the inverted pyramid is anything but outdated. In fact, it’s one of the top ways to build overall speed and endurance, beloved by beginners and advanced trail runners alike.
The workout involves running a series of intervals. Start by running long intervals before decreasing their lengths toward the middle of the workout. Then, build up their lengths again until you’re running long intervals to end the workout.
How many reps should you do? Here’s an example of an inverted pyramid workout routine for summer:4
- Two 800-meter runs at a 5K pace
- Two 400-meter runs at a mile pace
- Two 200-meter runs at an 800-meter pace
- Two 400-meter runs at a mile pace
- Two 800 meter runs at a 5K pace
While trail running is perfect for anyone looking to raise their heart rates while taking in gorgeous views, it may be helpful for beginners to begin building their cardio in a gym.
Top gyms have an array of treadmills and ellipticals designed to train new trail runners for their long runs in the wild. Some gyms even have cinemas where runners can watch movies while building cardio. Talk about a heart-racing experience.
To drown out distractions, put on your AirPods and listen to our summer playlist. One of the benefits of trail running is you easily fit it into your schedule during the summer months. It could be a morning or evening workout as long as you find the time.
#3 Pose on a Paddleboard
Standup paddleboard yoga (SUP yoga) has gained immense popularity in recent years. That’s because this engaging summer workout merges the meditative, core-sculpting practices of yoga with the fun, reenergizing movements of paddleboarding.
Here’s what you’ll need to perfect your downward dog while feeling the lake’s gentle rolling waves:5
- Paddleboard and paddle – Although any paddleboard will do for SUP yoga, the most yoga-friendly paddleboards are wide and cushiony. They’re also stable so that you don’t tumble into the water mid-leg extension. You’ll also need a properly-sized paddle.
- Protective gear – In addition to a personal flotation device (PFD), you’ll need sunscreen, a whistle, and sunglasses. The last thing you want is to be pulled over on your paddleboard by the authorities for not having a PFD. You also don’t want to be burnt to a crisp while planking in the piercing August sun.
- A paddleboard or kayak anchor – Paddleboard anchors are especially helpful for group yoga sessions. An anchor keeps your paddleboard in place so that you don’t drift away into the sunset in the middle of a squat pose.
The cost of a paddleboard largely depends on its size and construction. If you’re just starting out, it may be better to rent a paddleboard before buying a board, as they can sometimes be expensive.
SUP Yoga Workouts
The most effective SUP yoga workouts involve intense upper-body motions and prolonged core-strengthening exercises.
First, elevate your heart rate by paddling out to your yoga spot in the following method:6
- Paddle at 70 percent of your energy for six minutes
- Paddle at 75 percent of your energy for three minutes
- “Sprint” paddle at 90% of your energy for one minute
- Paddle at 25 percent of your energy for three minutes
Once you arrive at your yoga spot with your heart rate raised, jump into your favorite yoga poses. Some of the most popular SUP yoga poses and workouts include:
- Sun salutation
- Down dog
- Side stretches
- Seated twists
Honing your planks on a paddleboard in the middle of a lake is a wonderful way to connect your body and mind to nature. It can be intimidating to try out these moves on your own, so you might want to take group exercise classes to help you learn the correct form. Taking workout classes for beginners also makes learning less intimidating because you are learning with other people.
However, some summer days may bring thunderstorms the size of Kansas. On those rainy days, practice your poses in a heated studio.
Even better? Practice your poses in a gym with a heated studio. That way, you can use free weights in the training area before finding your free flow in the yoga studio. To maximize your gym time, ask Siri or Alex for “gyms near me.” The lesser the commute, the longer the gym time.
- NIH. Effect of regular swimming exercise on the physical composition, strength, and blood lipid of middle-aged women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4625655/
- Men’s Journal. 9 Best Swimming Workouts for Summer. https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/9-best-swimming-workouts-for-summer-20150626/
- PubMed Central. Atmospheres, landscapes and nature: Off-road runners’ experiences of well-being. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388409/
- Outside. Try this Fun Inverted Pyramid Workout to Build Miler Speed. https://www.outsideonline.com/health/running/training-advice/workouts/try-this-fun-inverted-pyramid-workout-to-build-miler-speed/
- REI. Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga Basics. https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/sup-yoga.html
- Men’s Journal. 3 Ways to Work Out on a Stand-up Paddleboard. https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/3-best-ways-to-work-out-on-a-stand-up-paddleboard/