Get ready for swimsuit season

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By Terricha Bradley-Phillips

The long winter months of hibernating and packing on the pounds transition to spring when many get back on the wellness wagon.


It’s already swimsuit season in Mississippi, and it’s time to show off the fruits of your fitness labor. Exercising on dry ground and in the water doubles the exercise benefits. Clinton and Flowood YMCA fitness instructor Chuck Shelton said the real work should happen during the winter and spring.


“The good news is, if you get started this summer, you could be a wholly transformed person by summer 2015,” Shelton said. “Sorry to say, there aren’t a whole lot of last-minute shortcuts to changing the way your body looks, especially if you have fat to lose.”


Before slipping into the cool pool, Shelton recommends these options for abs, glutes and arms:


• Abs: Do planks on your forearms or hands. When on your hands (nothing else touching the ground but your toes), in order to carve up the sides (obliques), alternate with each leg turning out to the side and bringing the knee as close to the arm as possible.


• Glutes: Squats and lunges are your best bet. For people who have mastered those, move on to Bulgarian split squats for a crazy-deep burn in the glutes. To do them, put one foot up on a bench behind you and squat just on the one standing leg. For even more of a burn, hold a dumbbell in each hand.


• Arms: Some bicep curls will help you out, but the majority of your arm definition comes from the triceps (the back of your arm). Do some pushups with your hands almost touching. This is a very effective way of targeting the triceps directly. Don’t forget to work the shoulders, too. Press dumbbells or a barbell overhead for a few sets of 10-12 reps and increase the weight when you get good at the weight you’ve been using.


Water offers heavy resistance (about 12 times the resistance of air), meaning your moves engage more muscle fibers and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Aquatic exercise is also best for those with joint problems and expectant mothers to reduce swelling. Try this Fitness magazine exercise underwater the next time you go to the pool:


• Deck dip targets triceps, abs and obliques. Begin with your back facing a side wall of the pool and place palms on the edge behind you, fingertips facing forward. Bend left knee to place left foot flat against wall and raise straight right leg to hip height in front of you. Straighten arms to lift out of water, lower to start. Do 10 reps, switch legs and repeat. (To make it easier, keep both knees bent and both feet flat on the wall. You can also do this in the corner of the pool if your bottom scrapes the edge.)


In addition, a recent study by Howard Carter of the University of Western Australia School of Sport Science suggests that being immersed in water increases blood flow through the brain’s cerebral arteries, thus improving heart health and cognitive function.


“As with land-based exercise, different types of water-based activities, such as water aerobics and swimming, have slightly different effects on heart function and cerebral blood flow so each would require further investigation,” Carter said in the study.



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