Here are my 6 basic principles for good summer fitness.
You can definitely train in the gym during the summer. I do a lot of my training in the gym, indoors, in all seasons. But working out in the gym isn’t unique to summer. Also, this is the default option for most people. I’m trying to get you to try something you’ve never tried before, to train in a way that you can’t always train.
Of course, if it’s 100 degrees, you might want to hit the gym. You might want to get in the shade. But summer gives you the opportunity to train outdoors in most places.
Train barefoot in your backyard or in a park. If you have gym equipment, just take it outside and do what you normally do in the garage, only on grass or dirt.
Train in the forest. Climb trees, lift logs, throw rocks.
Train at the beach or by a lake or river. bring a kettle bell there and get to work.
Focus on the fun
The key to good summer fitness? It’s not just about sweat and effort, but about the pure joy of movement, the exhilaration of performance. The pursuit of healthy pleasure is the cornerstone of being human and of fulfillment as a human. Pleasure is how our brain reward systems get us to do things that are good for us. Exercise is no different. If you make training fun, you look forward to it. You appreciate it in the moment, not just when it’s over.
And just because it’s fun doesn’t mean you won’t work hard or get a great training effect. This means that training is inherently valuable in the moment, and therefore more sustainable.
The image of this begins in your garden, under the bright summer sun. In your hands, a kettlebell, that deceptively simple but incredibly effective piece of equipment. You swing it, lift it, press it, turning every movement into an opportunity to build muscle, endurance and strength. Each swing is greeted by a cool breeze, each lift highlighted by the sun’s rays giving you a golden glow and a healthy dose of vitamin D.
Take your training ground from your backyard to the vast blue expanse of a lake or ocean. Imagine cruising gracefully on a stand-up paddle board, or perhaps cruising the waves in a kayak. It’s not just a workout; it is an intimate connection with water, an element that has been linked to our existence since evolutionary times. Comfort in the water is a fitness staple, and summer is the perfect time to master it.
On dry land, a whole different adventure awaits. Imagine biking on winding paths or rollerblading along the coast. Think of them not just as fitness tools, but as vessels of exploration. The goal is not just to burn calories but to soak up the environment, to blend in with the elements, to experience the freedom that summer brings.
These tools – the humble kettlebell, your craft, and your chosen land exploration mode – are your fitness partners, allowing you to tap into the unexplored power of outdoor training. What makes them special is that they are not just exercise equipment; they become part of your summer fitness story, enhancing the quality of your workout and your overall experience.
Go on an adventure
Instead of just using the rowing machine at the gym, go kayaking on the river, in sea caves, or on the lake (for time, if you want to increase the intensity). Or, as I do, paddling Miami’s canals, often encountering dolphins and manatees along the way.
Instead of just walking on the treadmill, take a day or two hike. Carry your stuff over mountains, over rocks, across meadows and rivers. You’ll log many more steps than you ever would on the treadmill while enjoying an incredible sensory experience.
The gym is great. I use it myself all the time, no matter the season. But the point is to follow your conventional gym training and to use to conquer the world and go on an adventure.
To be efficient
I’m not going to tell you what specific exercises to do. Deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, push-ups, presses, rows, swings, muscle ups, dips, lunges, step ups, hip thrusts…these are all fantastic options. You know what you like to do. I’m going to tell you to try to be a little more intuitive and “touchy feely” when you practice. That’s what summer is: a season for intuition, feeling and spontaneity. Foster that summer spirit with your performance programs.
Here’s what I mean.
Suppose you do push-ups, kettlebell swings, pull-ups, and squats. Or dips, trap bar deadlifts, rows and lunges. A push, a pull, a row and a knee bend.
Instead of doing a set number of reps, do the first exercise (push-ups) until you’re just afraid of failure. 2-3 reps remaining in tank.
Move on to the next (kettlebell swings) and do the same. Feel that deep burn but keep a few reps in the tank. When you are ready, return to the first exercise and do the same. Then do the same for the next one.
When you have reached 3 or 4, move on to the next two exercises and repeat the process.
You learn to feel when you have approached your limit. You get the training effect for your muscles, but you also train your intuition. It’s summer.
Embrace the elements
Summer, despite all its joys, brings with it intense heat. But instead of letting it bog you down, let it fuel you. Enjoy the heat, revel in the sweat. Get dirty, dirty, dusty, muddy. Summer is your chance to build your heat tolerance and improve your overall fitness.
This is also the time to use water to your advantage. Whether it’s splashing in waves at the beach, diving in a crystal-clear alpine lake, swimming with (or against) the current in a river, or even doing laps and underwater workouts, the he water is a whole new playground for your fitness exploits.
When the sun rises in the sky, don’t hide inside. Get out and train in the oldest and largest gym in the world. Absorb as much sun as you can, safely – don’t burn yourself, of course. It’s not just a pathway to a glowing tan, nor just a source of vitamin D, which is a crucial prohormone involved in muscle protein synthesis, increased bone density, and hormonal health. It also increases nitric oxide production, which can improve the delivery of oxygen and important nutrients to your muscles and other tissues, as well as improve the “pump” you get when lifting weights. In addition, training in hot weather can add an additional stressor – heat, which can improve the training effect. However, it is stressful and you may need more recovery after a sunny outdoor workout, but you may also get greater benefits from it.
Just make sure to stay hydrated. Add high quality salt to your water or prepare an electrolyte mixture. I like to add a packet of LMNT to water plus collagen and creatine and then sip it before and during my workout. Hydration will not only improve your workouts, but also your skin’s resistance to UV rays.
Essentially, summer fitness is all about embracing the inherent power of the season – warmth, sunlight, sand, water, and the calming energy of nature.
Summer fitness is an exploration, an adventure. The sunny season invites you to go beyond the typical, break free from monotony and create a summer fitness routine that reflects the season’s unique opportunities. The world is your gym. Now get outside, enjoy the heat, the sun, the water and make your summer fitness trip unforgettable.
How do you approach fitness in the summer? What are your fitness basics for the summer?