Summertime is rapidly approaching in South Florida. Whether you intend to stay put and enjoy our beaches and clubs — and lighter traffic! — or plan to get away to a cooler destination, don’t let your health and fitness goals slide.

This is a perfect time to rev up your current exercise program, implement some changes, or simply put some extra time in on those problem areas that could use a little work. Here’s a summer checklist, head to toe, with my best advice and exercises!

  1. Brain: The rest of your body degenerates much faster with age than the brain, but gray matter needs exercise too. To keep your mind sharp, read a book at the pool or beach, work crossword puzzles, join a bridge group, de-stress with yoga or meditation, or just listen to some quality tunes.
  1. Heart: According to the CDC, heart disease kills one in every four men — and half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Don’t become a statistic; instead, get up and stay active. Anything cardio will do, whether you do it inside a gym (spinning, Zumba, cross fit, martial arts, elliptical machine, etc.) or outside (swimming, biking, jogging, power walking, etc.).
  1. Chest: The pectorals are the largest muscle group of your upper anterior body. Keep your pecs strong and sexy! Grab a workout buddy to help you change weights quickly, and try some compound sets, forced reps, and drop-sets so that you’ll really feel the burn on bench presses, incline presses, incline dumbbell flies, and cable crossovers.
  1. Abdominals: The key to achieving a sexy six-pack is adhering to a low-fat, carb-controlled nutritional plan. Work out your abs two to three times per week. Crunches and bent-knee leg raises are your best bet for building these essential core muscles.
  1. Arms: Bulging biceps are always eye catching, but don’t forget their sisters. Seventy-five percent of the muscle in the average upper arm is triceps. So, while tris don’t require three times the effort you put into building your biceps, you’d be foolish to neglect them. Front cable push downs, close-grip push-ups, dumbbell kick-backs, and parallel-bar dips are my recommended exercises for building triceps.
  1. Butt: No matter where you strut your stuff, all eyes will follow you if you’ve got a great butt. Your gluteals (the muscles that make up your ass) are essential for a wide variety of activities activities — running, walking, climbing stairs, getting up out of a chair (and I bet you can think of at least one or two more) — so they need to be worked. Walking lunges, squats, leg presses, and weight-free jump squats will build a superior butt as well as thighs and calves.
  1. Knees: Sitting behind a desk all day or travelling in a car for hours can cause dull, aching pain in your knees because the lack of motion can prevent your joints from being sufficiently lubricated. Do stretches for your knees regularly: Sit back in a chair with feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your feet upward — extending your legs without locking out your knees at the top — then flex your thighs and hold for 20 seconds. Do this several times each day and between sets when working out.
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Tom Bonanti is a personal trainer and licensed massage therapist (MA40288) with his own one on one training studio in Ft. Lauderdale www.pumpnincgym.com. Contact Tom with questions regarding fitness and nutrition trainertomb@aol.com or call to schedule a free fitness intake massage (954) 557-1119.