How to get your beach body the right way

Follow our Bikini Bootcamp programme, based on cutting-edge science, to get a lean beach body — fast. But be prepared to sweat a little, writes Peta Bee.

How to get your beach body the right way

Shape of summer 

AFTER months spent concealed in layers, the prospect of unveiling your body for the beach is one that fills many with dread. There’s nowhere to hide in a bikini — bumps, bulges and fat-folds are starkly revealed before all. With your holiday booked, you might think you’ve left it too late (again) to get into shape, but we delved into cutting-edge science to come up with a Bikini Bootcamp programme that is guaranteed to transform your physique before you head to the airport.

What scientists have now proven is, that for an exercise regimen to be effective at lowering body fat, we don’t need expensive equipment, gym memberships or accessories, we just need to put in more effort. High Intensity Training (or HIT), the short, fast approach to exercise widely used by athletes, has been seized upon by A-listers who realise its potential to whittle down the body to its leanest in record time. You’ll never see a sprinter with a flabby butt because their gluteal muscles are engaged with every powerful stride, making them exceptionally strong. As a result of short sprints and explosive exercises, the muscles in the bottom become super- efficient calorie-burning engines that propel the body towards leanness.

One group of Australian researchers randomly allocated 45 women to eitherthree 40-minute sessions of moderate intensity cycling — at a gentle pace — a week or three 20-minute sessions of higher intensity intermittent cycling. The women who had been allocated to the high intensity group were asked to alternate eight seconds of sprint cycling with 12 seconds of gentle cycling.

They started doing this for five minutes, building up to 20 minutes per session. At the end of 15 weeks, both groups had got fitter, as measured by improvements in their aerobic fitness, or VO2 max, but only the high-intensity group had lost any weight. They lost an average of 2.5kg (5.5lb) — but within this average there was huge variability. Some of the women lost up to 8kg (17.6lb), a few lost very little. The ones who lost very little were the ones who were lean to begin with. The heavier the women were at the start of the study, the more fat they had lost by the end.

But getting lean is only part of the story. For a really impressive bikini physique, you need to target the muscles in the bottom, tummy, arms and legs. That’s where our body conditioning exercises come in. As the largest muscle in the body, the gluteus maximus covers the bottom and needs to be worked hard to avoid a flabby butt. However, the smaller muscles of the bottom, the gluteus medius and minimus, also need attention if you are going to achieve the kind of behind that looks good in jeans.

Our plan will target all of your gluteal muscle from different angles, isolating the buttocks area, so you can get amazing results.

Then there’s the matter of achieving a midriff worthy of exposing. Flashes of bikini-ready bodies have flooded Twitter and Instagram in recent months as the likes of Jennifer Lopez, January Jones and Jennifer Alba have revealed flat, toned stomachs that look to be the result of hours dedicated to honing their core every week.

Miley Cyrus, rarely seen without a midriff-skimming outfit, is among those who hired Hollywood’s Ab Queen, Mari Winsor, to get hers into shape. Winsor, who also hones the bodies of Dakota Johnson and Vanessa Williams, says much of what we thought we knew about getting a bikini-flat stomach was wrong.

It’s not all about going hell for leather. “You have to learn not just to tighten up your tummy muscles but actually to pull your tummy in to your lower back as much as you can,” she says. “Throwing yourself into hardcore circuit classes might get short term results, but it’s unsustainable. Your body can’t withstand the demands. You’ll get injured.”

Is there a short cut to good abs? Winsor says that “if you eat well and exercise right”, there will be visible improvements within the four weeks we have outlined below.

Hydration is crucial. “It’s important to increase your fluid intake as your exercise rises,” says Joe Wicks, the online trainer who has become a social media sensation. “I recommend 2 to 4 litres, the higher end if you are big build.”

Follow our Bikini Bootcamp plan and you can expect to see dramatic changes to your shape by the time you head on holiday. Time to get moving...

Your beach body plan

WEEK 1

Day 1: Walk, cycle, jog or swim at a moderate pace for 15 minutes. Day 2: 10 x step ups, 10x body weight squat, 10 x glute bridge, 10 x upright row. Repeat as many times as you can in 5 minutes. Day 3: REST Day 4: Run or walk at a moderate pace for 10 minutes, adding 2 x 20 second bursts of speed. Day 5: REST Day 6: Perform 10 repetitions of each of the following moves, then nine, then eight. Continue ‘down the ladder’ in this way as many times as you can in five minutes: quadruped hip extension, deep sumo squat, static lunge. Day 7: REST

Results: You might feel tired, but transformations even after week one will make it worthwhile.

WEEK 2

Day 1: 30 seconds each of walking lunge with weights, side plank, step-ups, single leg deadlift with a 10-second breather. Repeat. Day 2: REST Day 3: Warm up, run fast upstairs or a 30 metre slope (walk back down) as many times as you can in 3 minutes. Cool down. Day 4: REST Day 5: 10 x upright row, deep Sumo squat, quadruped hip extension, triceps dip with 10 second breather. Repeat as many times as you can in 5 minutes. Day 6: REST Day 7: 10 x body weight squats, static lunge, glute bridge, side plank reach around. Repeat as many times as you can in 5 minutes, taking a 10 second breather between exercises.

Results: You’ll start to notice more tone in your buttocks and legs.

WEEK 3

Day 1: Walk, cycle, jog or swim at a moderate pace for 15 minutes. Day 2: 30 seconds each of: step-ups, static lunge, body weight squats, single leg deadlift, glute bridge, quadruped hip extension, upright row, plank. Take 10 second breather between each. Day 3: REST Day 4: Warm up, run fast upstairs or a 30m slope (walk down) as many times as you can in 4 minutes. Cool down. Day 5: REST

Day 6: 10 x side plank reach around, triceps dip, body weight squats, glute bridge. Take 10 second breather and repeat as many times as possible in 5 minutes.

Day 7: Gentle jog or cycle for 3 minutes. Then perform 3 x 20 second flat-out sprints with 2 minutes recovery between each. Gentle 2 minute cool down.

Results: Weight will begin to drop and any fat around your middle will start to melt away.

WEEK 4

Day 1: REST Day 2: Warm up by walking or jogging for 3 minutes. Perform 4 x 30 second sprints uphill (walk back down slowly to recover. Cool down for 2 minutes. Day 3: 30 seconds each of: step-ups, walking lunge with weights, deep Sumo squat, single leg deadlift, glute bridge, quadruped hip extension, upright row, side plank with rotation. Take 10 second breather between each. Day 4: Warm up, 5 x 60 second sprints either running, walking or cycling. Take 90 seconds recovery between each burst. Cool down. Day 5: 15 x step-ups, deep Sumo squats, quadruped hip extension and single leg deadlift with a 10 second breather. Repeat as many times as you can. Day 6: Warm up, run fast upstairs or a 30m slope (walk down) as many times as you can in 5 minutes.

Day 7: 30 seconds each of: static lunge, body weight squat, glute bridge, quadruped hip extension, upright row, side plank with rotation, single leg deadlift, deep sumo squat, step ups, walking lunges. Take 10 second breather between each. Results: A final week of hard work will produce the results you are after: lean, toned limbs, a flatter stomach and smouldering shoulders. Perfect for the beach.

What to eat and what to avoid

1. Drink water: The rising temperature of summer mean there’s a greater chance of being dehydrated. Your muscles need water to work efficiently, so drink plenty.

2. Make your first meal porridge or Bircher muesli : It needn’t be bang on breakfast time, but starting the day with oats will set you up until lunchtime. Top with fruit, nuts, popcorn kernals, carob or a healthy topping of your choice.

3. Eat fruit wisely: Fruit has been a victim of the sugar backlash. In fact, it is jammed with fibre and beneficial nutrient. To lower its glycaemic index (the effect it has on blood sugar), add it to salads rather than eating it alone

4. Go grains: Replace ‘white’ carbs such as bread, pasta, white rice and potatoes with healthy grains like spelt, quinoa and barley. Not only are they a valuable source of protein, but they also fill you and prevent cravings.

5. Don’t snack: When you do, your body constant expects food and blood sugar levels are disrupted. Leave 2-3 hours between meals and make it enough to last.

THE EXERCISES

Static lunge: Stand with back straight and feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward, bending both knees to 90 degrees and keeping your upper body straight. Push straight back to the starting position using and repeat putting the other leg forward.

Body weight squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hands placed lightly on the opposite shoulders. Bend from the hips, keeping the weight in your heels. Make sure your back is straight. Keep bending until the legs are at a 90 degree angle - imagine you are preparing to sit in a chair. Push back up without bending the back.

Walking lunge with weights: For this you will need bottles of water or some light dumbbells weighing 3-5 pounds - you can always progress to heavier as you get stronger. Hold one in each hand with arms by your sides, palms facing inwards. As for the static lunge, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and take a large stride forward. Bend both knees to 90 degrees, keeping your trunk stable and your back straight. Continue lunging forward with alternate legs for the specified number of repetitions or time.

Deep sumo squat: This is a variation on the body weight squat which targets slightly different muscles due to the wider stance of the legs. Start with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and arms crossed in front of you for balance. Toes should be pointing forward and feet slightly at an angle outwards. Squat deep down as if sitting on a beanbag. Keep your back straight and head up.

Step-ups: Use a bench or sturdy chair with a seat that is at a comfortable height to step onto. Place one foot on the ‘step’, making sure your whole foot is in contact with the surface. Push your body weight up, driving your weight through your heel and breathing out as you do this, until you are standing on top of the step with both feet. Step back and down, one leg at a time until you are standing with both feet flat on the floor again. Repeat with the opposite leg leading. Step-ups should be performed with care but at a brisk pace.

Quadruped hip extension: Start on all fours with knees and feet hip-width apart and hands directly beneath the shoulders. Tighten your abdominal muscles and don’t sag or arch the back. Squeeze your buttock muscles and lift your left leg, pressing the left foot towards the ceiling. Try to move only from the hip joint. Lower back to the start position and repeat.

Triceps dips: Position a bench or chair close to the body with hips straight and palms on the edge, facing forward. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees to lower your body. Push yourself back up using only your arms.

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