“Out with the old, in with the new” might be your best approach to an effective spring training plan, especially if you hope to achieve your best bikini body yet.
If your routine feels a bit stale after the winter training slog, try these five exercise swaps to transform your training, reignite your progress and boost your motivation to train!
In: Kettlebell swings
Don’t get us wrong, we love deadlifts, because they’re so effective, but sometimes a break from our best gym buddy can do us some good. Longing, after all, does make the glutes grow fonder, and possibly firmer in this instance. Deadlifts are certainly one of the best compound movements around, making it an ideal option to blast calories and shape a number of muscles, most notably your glutes, hamstrings, quads and back. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that swapping a heavy loaded bar for a seemingly small and insignificant kettlebell will yield lesser results. The kettlebell swing is a powerful hip hinge movement that engages just as many muscles in the posterior chain, with particular emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings (if you’re doing it properly!) Also, it doesn’t require a deep knee bend, as does the deadlift, which means you’ll be giving these joints a break.
In: Squat thrusts
Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that burpees work. It’s why they’re in just about every HIT circuit or metcon. This exercise targets multiple muscle groups and gives you a serious cardio workout at the same time. However, they’re never easy and all that jumping around can get weary, even for the most dedicated of gym-girls. Again, this is a highly effective exercise that shouldn’t be excluded from your routine indefinitely, but if you’re looking to add in something new that is just as effective to freshen up your workout, add in the squat thrust. This move combines a front squat and push press into one fluid movement, ensuring you target numerous muscle groups – including your quads, shoulders and abs, as you did with burpees – but you’ll now be working against the resistance of the weights for a new stimulus.
Out: Bicep curls.
While bicep curls are a great isolation exercise to target your upper arms for the ultimate strappy top look, the truth is that a pull-up targets your biceps just as effectively, while also incorporating the bigger muscles of your upper back and your core for a serious calorie-busting move. It’s also great for developing strength, which delivers functional benefits in other lifts, and in everyday life. Mastering the pull-up and breaking new PBs on the number of reps you squeeze out will also provide a new and interesting challenge to help keep you motivated.
Out: Dumbbell kickbacks.
In: Parallel bar dips
Dumbbell kickbacks are a great isolation exercise for targeting your triceps and firming up those upper arms, perfect for summer dresses and bikinis. However, the unilateral nature of the exercise – you use one arm at a time – isn’t always an efficient use of your limited gym time. Another move that is also effective at targeting this important area for women, but is certainly less common, is the parallel bar dip. Again, this exercise will target more muscles and deliver strength gains that will help you in other lifts. Dips are also one of the few exercises that effectively target all three heads of your triceps.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.