Take the First Step to a Toned You: Be Summer Ready with These Special Exercises

Tone up for summer with these special exercises

Spring has opened up in all its beauty in Houston this year, offering us wondrous days of just-right temperatures, low humidity and light blue skies that make us grasp our opportunities to truly enjoy outdoor activities like walks in the park and staring at the stars with an enthusiasm undampened by the usual downpour of sweat that accompanies our high-heat, high-humidity summer months.

But don’t let the pleasant temperatures woo you into forgetting that summer scorchers are just around the corner, and with those hot days the desire to dress for the season, which often means the fewer layers the better, especially around the swimming pool.

The bathing suit shouldn’t be something to fear. A simple plan begun today can make a world of difference in how you feel the first day you get to take a cool, refreshing swim in your favorite pool. Use these muscle-specific exercises—provided by Kiesha Ramey-Presner, VP of Teacher Development at the Bar Method—to gain confidence and strength during Houston’s unrelenting summer.

Keisha offers tips on how to tone hard-to-target muscle groups. The Bar Method technique is designed to strengthen and elongate muscles through precise positioning and lighter weights.

Here, find expert tips from Kiesha on how to get your body fit for summer.


Bear your arms all summer long by targeting your triceps, the trio of muscles that run from your elbow to your shoulder. “Although your triceps represent the largest muscle group in your arm, they’re often the weakest. Strengthening them has the potential to yield big results,” says Ramey-Presner. “In Bar Method, we do reverse pushups to target the muscle and create a leaner, more sculpted arm.”

What to do:

  1. Sit on the floor with your hands underneath your shoulders and facing forward, with your fingertips rotated just slightly out for comfort and alignment.
  2. Position your feet forward of your knees, parallel to one another and no wider than hip-width. Lift your seat, and without moving your feet, shift your torso back so that you feel a physical connection between your rib cage and upper arms.
  3. Tuck your seat up and forward of your wrists, so that it clears the floor easily.
  4. Bend your elbows about an inch in range directly behind you and re-straighten your arms. Repeat 20 times, 3 to 5 days per week.


Need to move a picnic table for your family’s July 4th feast? Protect your back and lift with your legs. This quadriceps-building exercise will help.

What to do:

  1. Stand half-an-arm’s length from a standard height kitchen or desk chair (without wheels!), facing the back of it. Place your feet parallel and hip-width apart, and rest your hands lightly on top of the chair back.
  2. Raise your heels a few inches so that you are on the balls of your feet. Bend your knees so that you drop a third of the way down from where you were standing, and maintain a straight spine with relaxed glutes.
  3. Hold this for 20 seconds. Rise 1 inch back up and lower; repeat 10 times. Hold again for 20 seconds. Repeat the movement, but more quickly, 20 times to finish. The exercise should total no more than a couple of minutes. Repeat 3 to 5 days per week.


“This low-curl exercise targets your hardest-to-reach deep abs and rectus abdominis—your six-pack,” says Ramey-Presner.

What to do:

  1. Place a mat down on a carpeted floor (cushion will provide more comfort). Prop yourself up on your elbows, and sit towards the front end of the mat. Place your feet parallel and hip-width apart flat on the floor.
  2. Squeeze your glutes and press your low back down onto the mat. Raise your elbows and hold the backs of your thighs with your hands, with your elbows bent out to the sides. As you do this, draw your ribs towards your thighs until your body forms a natural “C”-curve.
  3. Exhale and draw your navel down, so that you feel your abs working. For more challenge, let go of your thighs. Hold your body still for 10 to 20 breaths. Then reset by holding back on to your thighs. Complete 3 to 5 sets; repeat 3 to 5 times per week.

As with any exercise, consider your current medical and body condition and consult your doctor to make sure you can safely attempt the program you plan to try. Begin slow and work your way up to maximum repetition of activities. A pulled muscle right off the back that keeps you from continuing for several days or weeks while it heals won’t get you anywhere. Instead, realize that any movement, no matter how small, is better than no movement at all as long as you are perpetually challenging yourself within reasonable limits and setting and achieving realistic improvement goals.

If you think you’ll never get into bathing suit shape in time for summer, remember this. If you never start some kind of regular exercise and/or toning regimen, you most certainly will not have the bod for the beach you’ve been dreaming of. The only way to make a change in your life is to take that first step, followed by another and another, toward a better you.

In health,

The bulk of this article is copyright 2017 by Delicious Living and Jenna Blumenfeld. All rights reserved. Used with permission.