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Beach Body: What It Takes
If your goal is turning heads at the beach, WebMD is here to help. Along with tips on grooming and choosing flattering trunks, we'll show you a workout for flat abs and a pumped up physique. To build bigger muscles, aim for the best form rather than hundreds of reps. Browse the slides to come -- then focus on two or three body parts. Or build a full workout by choosing one exercise that challenges each body part.
Proud Pecs: Dumbbell Bench Press
For pecs that beg to go shirtless, start with a bench press. Lie back, with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at chest level. Push the weights straight up and slowly lower back down. Always start light with weights, doing 16-20 reps with perfect form. Go heavier slowly, so your muscles fail in 8-12 reps. Aim for three sets, resting 30-90 seconds between sets.
Proud Pecs: Dumbbell Fly
Lie on your back with a dumbbell in each hand. Raise the dumbbells above the chest, shoulder-width apart. With your palms facing each other and elbows slightly bent, inhale and lower the dumbbells in an arc to chest level. Exhale and slowly raise the dumbbells to starting position, as if wrapping your arms around a barrel.
If you're 45 or older or have a medical condition, check with a doctor before starting a fitness program.
Proud Pecs: Push-Ups
No time for the gym? The classic push-up will sculpt your pecs with no equipment. Begin in plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your legs extended behind you. Bend the elbows to lower yourself until your chin or chest touches the floor. Straighten the elbows to push back up. Do 2-3 sets of as many reps as you can manage with good form. Push-ups work the shoulders and triceps in addition to the pecs.
Beach-Ready Biceps: Barbell Curl
Stand gripping a barbell at thigh level. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, palms facing forward. Exhale and bend the elbows, raising the bar to shoulder-level. Keep your elbows at your side. Inhale and slowly lower the barbell to starting position. Keep the knees slightly bent and don't allow the back to arch.
Beach-Ready Biceps: Dumbbell Curl
Sit on a bench with your back against a backrest. With your arms at your sides, hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward. Exhale and slowly curl your arms up until the dumbbells nearly reach the shoulders. Inhale and extend the elbows to return to starting position. If doing more than eight reps, rest for at least 90 seconds between sets.
Beach-Ready Triceps: Extensions
Buff arms require working the triceps, too. They get less respect than the biceps, but they make up the bulk of the arm. Give them some eye-catching definition with barbell extensions. Lie on a bench with a barbell raised directly over your face, elbows straight and palms facing forward. Bend the elbows to lower the barbell down toward your forehead. Keep your elbows stationary. Exhale and push back up.
Beach-Ready Triceps: Pushdowns
Triceps pushdowns can be done with resistance bands or cables. Stand with your hands gripping the bands, palms facing down. Your elbows should be bent so your forearms are parallel with the floor. Keeping your elbows at your side, exhale and press down until the elbows are straight. Inhale and return to the starting position. Avoid locking your elbows.
Sculpted Shoulders: Dumbbell Press
Sometimes called the military press, this move sculpts the deltoid muscles found in the shoulder area. Sit on a bench with your back against a backrest. Hold your dumbbells at shoulder height and shoulder width, palms facing forward. Exhale and push the dumbbells up until the elbows are fully extended. Inhale as you slowly bring the weights back down.
Chiseled Calves: Calf Raises
If you've got scrawny calves peeking out below your board shorts, try this simple move. Stand with dumbbells or kettlebells at your sides, feet shoulder-width apart. Raise your heels until your weight is on the balls of your feet. Contract the abs to help keep your balance and slowly lower back down. Good moves to challenge other leg muscles include squats and leg presses for the quads, as well as leg curls for the hamstrings.
Buff Back: Lat Pulldown
The back is another region you don't want to neglect during swim season. The lats are broad muscles that run from mid-back to waist. You can do lat pulldowns with resistance bands or cables. With your hands wider than shoulder width, grab the bands or cable bar overhead, keeping your elbows straight. Pull the bar or bands toward your chest, bringing your elbows close to your sides. Slowly extend the elbows to raise back up.
Buff Back: Dumbbell Row
The dumbbell row works the lats as well as the rhomboid muscles in the upper back. Begin with your left hand and knee on a bench and your right foot flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand next to the bench. Bend your elbow and pull the dumbbell toward your waist. Lower slowly back down.
Quick Abs: Bicycle
Get the most bang for your abs by skipping regular crunches in favor of the bicycle maneuver. An American Council on Exercise study rated this move as one of the most efficient ways to tone the major abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques. While lying on your back, pedal your legs as if riding a bike. As you pedal, touch each elbow to the opposite knee. Be sure to keep your lower back pressed to the floor.
Quick Abs: Cable Rotations
For an ab exercise that doesn't involve lying on the floor, try cable rotations. Stand holding a cable close to the upper abdomen. The cable should extend to the side, not directly in front of you. Tighten your abs and slowly turn your torso away from the cable anchor. Hold briefly before returning to starting position. After one set of 8-12 reps, face the opposition direction and repeat.
Beach Body: Where to Wax
"Manscaping" has taken off in recent years, particularly among young guys. Ninety-five percent of those responding to a survey by Cosmopolitan and askmen.com said they trim, shave, or wax their body hair. The most popular targets for manscaping are the back, chest, and pubic area. To avoid prickly stubble, waxing is a better option for large areas like the chest and back.
Swimsuit Style: Beyond Elastic
While most swim trunks are made with elastic waistbands, this style can accentuate even a little extra girth around the waist. For a more flattering and stylish option, look for shorts that close with drawstrings, snaps, or buttons.
Swimsuit Style: How Baggy?
Once you've got your fitness program under way, it's time for a little fashion boot camp. Baggy, low-riding board shorts look best on men under 20. If your teenage years are behind you, consider more fitted trunks that sit just above the hips. But avoid going too tight or too high.
Swimsuit Style: How Long?
Consider your height before picking the length of your trunks. Long trunks look right at home on tall guys, but can overwhelm shorter men. Short trunks, in contrast, can create the illusion of longer legs. Men of short to medium height should opt for short to medium-length trunks.
Beach Body: Skin Care
Pump up your sunscreen habits around sand and water, which multiply the UV rays that hit your skin. Look for a broad-spectrum product with an SPF of 30 or greater. None are truly sweat proof or waterproof, but water-resistant types can last through a 40-80 minute beach volleyball game. Gels work well for hairy spots like the scalp and chest. Don't forget your ears and lips. And consider a shirt, hat, or shady spot at mid-day.
Beach Body: Focus on Feet
No beach body is complete without tidy feet. When trimming your toenails, don't round the edges -- that will make them prone to getting ingrown. If you go for a professional pedicure, make sure the salon sterilizes its utensils. Don't let the technician cut your cuticles or remove dead skin with a foot razor. Once your toenails are tamed, you'll be ready for barefoot walks on the beach.
Slim Down: Eat Fruit, Veggies
If you're trying to lose weight, you need to reduce your total calorie count, but there are some foods you may want to eat more of. There is evidence that loading up on fruits and vegetables can protect against weight gain. Filling up on a salad before lunch or dinner may help you eat less during the meal, reducing the overall calories.
Slim Down: Choose Whole Grains
Another food on the "eat more" list is whole grains, including whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, and whole-grain cereals. Adults who eat plenty of high-fiber whole grains tend to weigh less than those who eat few whole grains. Sneaking in more whole grains can be as simple as ordering your sub on a whole wheat roll or mixing high-fiber cereal in with your fruity O's .
Slim Down: Limit Alcohol
It's not just beer that can pad the belly. Alcohol of all kinds contains empty calories that your body may store as fat -- and weakens your ability to resist a plate of super nachos. And drinking heavily, no matter the form of alcohol, is linked to weight gain. Try lower-calorie drinks, slower sipping, or alternating with no-calorie club soda.
Slim Down: Linoleic Acid
Browse the aisle of a health food shop, and you'll see many supplements hinting that they can melt fat. Few have evidence to back the claims. One exception is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA.) In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, overweight adults who took CLA for six months lost significantly more fat in the legs and waist regions compared with those taking a placebo. Check with your doctor before taking supplements.
Slim Down: Other Supplements
Another supplement that shows promise is green tea. In an article in Obesity Review, a team of researchers looked at the available evidence for a variety of weight loss supplements. They concluded that there are data to support the fat-burning properties of green tea and caffeine. Fish oil has also been touted as a weight loss aid, but a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition casts doubt on this claim.
Slim Down: Get Moving
To reveal your developing six-pack, you'll need to burn off belly fat that tends to hide the muscles underneath. If you prefer moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, aim for 30-60 minutes on most days of the week. If you prefer vigorous activity, such as swimming or running, a total of one or two hours a week should do the trick.
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