Want to get in shape for the beach? These 12 tips should help you feel your best on the sand.

If you’re looking forward to two weeks on a sun-kissed sand, relaxing and soaking up the sun, you’re going to want to look and feel your best on the beach. Toned legs and upper arms, a slim waist and that ‘fitness healthy glow’ don’t appear overnight, so the key to getting ‘beach-fit’ is to start your health and fitness plan early, rather than attempting a crash course in training and dieting. 

This way you’ll have plenty of time to get in shape and keep the weight off unlike fad diets that make you pile on the weight just days into the holiday. So what is the best strategy to get fit for the beach and make sure you look good for your holiday? Follow the training and dietary advice below and you’ll tone up, shape up and feel good in your bikini body.

1. Resistance training

More muscles will mean more fat burn, simple! Dont worry that you’ll bulk up or look ‘manly’ as women don't have enough testosterone to muscle gain as much as men, instead you body will become toned, tight and slender. Toning up your muscles will not only burn more calories but will make you feel great!

Weight training also causes your metabolism to burn for a longer time than cardio, meaning fat continues to get used up even when you've stopped working out. Your fitness will improve and the changing shape of your body will make you feel more than able to rock that bikini!

2. Muscle costs more

The ‘energy cost’ of a body with toned muscles is higher than a body carrying excess body-fat so if you tone up your muscles, your engine is running faster 24 hours a day leading to further body-fat reduction. The mere existence of muscle will cause the metabolism to burn faster, eating through calories and fat at a higher rate!

Its not all just about the cardio , as important as it is, but building muscle can be great for both your appearance, fitness and your health. So hit those weights and stock up on that protein and say goodbye to those love handles and bingo wings!

3. Train early

Any exercise at any time of the day will do wonders for your bikini body, but morning workouts are ideal. As hard as it is pulling yourself out of bed, getting an exercise in after breakfast is perfect to kickstart your metabolism, starting the fat and calorie burn process. And if you've worked out hard your metabolism will keep burning for the rest of the day, up to 15 hours after, killing off those calories at a higher rate.

Sometimes our schedules don't allow for morning workouts, but boosting your metabolism and freeing up the rest of the day can be a great way to start the day and keep to your workout routine.

4. Keep your body and training balanced

When you look in the mirror, the main muscles you see are your abdominals (stomach), chest and biceps (upper arm). Avoid over-training these areas because you will develop postural imbalances. Make sure that you tone up all round the body, not just what you see when you look in the gym mirrors. Legs are a vital part of any workout, as your bum can be a tricky area for most women’s pre-bikini body.

So, make a workout plan to train areas on different days, allowing for muscle recovery and equal training. Sometimes an unproportionate body can make you feel worse than holding a bit of flab, so balance and equality is important in your exercise. 

5. CV exercise is good

When looking to tone up, it’s easy to forget about cardiovascular (CV) training. However, for a balanced health and fitness program, cardio training is essential to ensure that your body’s most important muscle, your heart, is trained too. As boring and exhausting as running, swimming and cycling can be, hitting the bike and fitting in a jog could be the different to hiding in a kaftan all holiday and rocking that bikini-bod.

But don't fear, cardio can be done through endless forms of exercise. So if you hate the treadmill and don't even want to look at a bike, join a zumba class or put on some boxing gloves, still working your heart and fitness, but adding that bit of much needed excitement

6. Abs are not enough

Endless sit-ups and crunches unfortunately will not result in the perfect body, as much as ab exercises will tone your body to a certain extent, you workout should be about variation. If you're looking to get a slim waist for the beach, sit-ups for your abdominal muscles are just one of the exercises you should be doing. The core should be your main focus when working out the abdomen.

The plank, leg lifts, russian twists and many more exercises that tackle all areas around the abs are better to get the slimmer and more defined stomach. Plus as many trainers and exercise forums will tell you; abs are 70 per cent kitchen 30 per cent gym. So turn your time away from mindless ab exercises and work your whole body. 

7. Exercising legs is important

Many people when preparing for the beach, will immediately hit the abs and arms, yet legs are just as important as toning up the upper half of the body. An additional advantage of including CV training in your beach-fit plan is that almost all CV training involves using your legs; running, cycling etc, so these exercises will tone up your leg muscles as well.

Slender and muscular legs will elongate them, making you look slimmer and taller. So hit the squat rack, get on the bike and so some cardio to tone up those legs and walk your way to the beach body you want. 

8. Plan ahead

Setting out your diet and exercise alongside set goals and aims can be the edge for any bikini body routine. Food journals are a great way to plan out meals, control your shopping, avoid unhealthy impulse eating and seeing how many calories youve been consuming. Setting out what you want to achieve before, goals and periodical aims to the deadline of your bikini body is the best way to keep yourself on track.

When were just aimlessly trying to lose weight and tone up it is easy to get diverted off the path. Instead plan achievable and reasonable goals to keep yourself on course and even treat yourself when you reach each goal. 

9. Go natural when eating

Diet is of high importance when it comes to trimming up your bikini body, and instead of skipping out on meals, try eating a substantial amount of healthy natural foods, rich in nutrition but low in calories. Always try and select whole-food choices for meals and snacks, avoiding processed foods (foods that come in packets) as they are generally low in nutrition and high in unwanted calories such as fat and sugar.

These are the best types of foods to eat when sticking to a health diet and lose those pesky pounds; lean meats, eggs, low fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, oats, long grain rice and whole-wheat carbs. 

10. Hydrate

The benefits of water are endless, Keeping your brain functioning properly, hydrating your skin, flushing out toxins and many more. But when trying to lose weight water is key! It can curb hunger and fill you up before meals. It can provide needed blood flow and muscle hydration before, during and after exercise, helping you perform efficiently and keep going for longer.

And water can even prevent water retention and bloating, helping your digestive system and efficient metabolic functioning. So stick to water and green teas and reap the benefits of something so simple on your bikini body. 

11. Easy on the alcohol

As rewarding as alcohol can be, when trying to prepare your body for those pools and beaches steer clear of the booze! They don't call it a ‘beer belly’ for nothing! Alcohol, particularly if drinking mixers and sodas with alcohol will result in an astounding amount of sugar and fat added into the diet.

Alcoholic drinks are surprisingly calorific, without providing the nutritional benefits of food. So instead of storing more fat into your body through alcohol, opt for the less calorie rich drinks or even abstain from alcohol altogether. 

12. Food choices

Incorrect food choices are often triggered by energy lows, foods high in sugars (carbs) will cause an increase in insulin which subsequently will increase energy quickly, but then are followed by an energy slump, making you need for high energy foods soon after. These high sugar foods are typically unhealthy, packed with fats and non-natural sugar, mostly stored as fat in the body.

By choosing slow energy release foods such as bananas, you will find that you maintain constant energy levels with fewer calories, feeling the need to eat less and helping you stay away from those unhealthy, sugary foods. 

Here are some food alternatives and their average calories to help you pick the better option: (per 100g/ml)

Food  Alternative
Salted crisps - 550kcal Popcorn (air popped) - 350kcal
Sweets - 400kcal  Dried fruit (apricots) - 230kcal
Milk and White chocolate - 550kcal Dark chocolate (70%) - 250kcal
Cake - 450kcal  Banana bread - 290kcal
Ice cream - 210kcal  Yogurt - 60kcal
Pizza - 300kcal Pita pizza - 200kcal
Coke (1 litre) - 450kcal Flavoured or sparkling water (1 litre) - 20kcal
Chips - 300kcal Sweet potato wedges - 90kcal 
Sugary cereal - 350kcal Steel-cut oats - 250kcal