How to Tone for the Beach in 20 Minutes

Personal trainer Errick McAdams gives his 6 favorite moves.

Photography and .gifs by Angie Hilsman

Bikini season has already started, and although you’re finally seeing results from working out, you may not have the definition you’ve been craving. We caught up with personal trainer Errick McAdams to get his advice for toning up before the beach.

“The best exercise for any given muscle group is the exercise you don’t normally do,” McAdams says, before sharing a six-step circuit. That means if you don’t normally run stairs, you should run stairs. “Whenever you get your body out of its comfort zone, that’s when it starts to change.”

Try McAdams’s 20-minute, full-body, toning routine before unveiling the beach bod this weekend, but don’t hesitate to mix it up if you’re already familiar with these moves.

Equipment needed: a resistance band, jump rope

Time: 20 minutes

30 Jumping Jacks

The first rule in personal training is never tell anyone to do something you haven’t done,” says McAdams, starting his jumping jacks this morning in Meridian Hill Park.

15 Squat Thrusts

Squats are great for the legs. McAdams’s rule of thumb: “Big chest, big butt, sit back in the chair.” Puff out your chest, stick out his behind, and squat down as if easing into a chair. Try to keep the weight in your heals as you “sit” back.

45 Static Curls with a Resistance Band

15 reps of static curling on each arm.

For successful isometric curls, aka “static curls,” stand on the center of your resistance band while holding one end in each hand. Keep one arm bent upwards while the second curls, pulling the resistance band along with it. Do 15 reps on each arm, then curl both arms simultaneously 15 times.

15 reps of static curling both arms at the same time.

15 Pushups

A regular pushup.

Pushups work the triceps, chest, and abs, but hand placement (spread out, tucked in, pointed outwards, etc.) can alter the intensity of the exercise. That doesn’t matter, says McAdams. “Anywhere is good for putting your hands. Once you get used to it, switch it up.”

An elevated pushup.

Not everyone has mastered the pushup, but that doesn’t matter either, says McAdams. Depending on your strength level, you can try an elevated pushup, a modified pushup (on your knees), or a regular pushup. “The higher your arms are, the easier it is. If you’re really deconditioned, you can start with wall pushups.”

Rows with a Resistance Band

McAdams slung his TRX around a sturdy tree branch for this exercise.

“Anytime you’re pulling anything, you’re working your back and biceps,” says McAdams. For hardcore athletes, he recommends the TRX ($200, any sporting good store) for rows. If using the TRX, it’s important to keep tension in the rope. Also remember, the closer your feet are to the anchor point, the harder it will be.

McAdams fed the resistance band around a light post for this exercise.

For beginners, a $30 resistance band will work, says McAdams. Using this tool becomes easier as your feet near the anchor point.

100 Jumprope Skips

“It’s my favorite cardio,” McAdams admits. “It burns more calories than running and it’s easier on the knees.”

There is proper technique for jumping rope: stand on the balls of your feet, core tight, use your wrists- not your whole arm- to turn the rope, and be sure to let the rope hit the ground.

McAdams recommends the LifeLine USA Heavy Weighted Speed Rope ($12,, explaining that the .75-pound weighted rope helps to keep rhythm. To become a jumprope pro, build up to 100 skips. Beginners who don’t have experience skipping rope should start at 25 skips, says McAdams, while intermediate users should start at 50 skips.

McAdams recommends doing this circuit three times. “I’m a big fan of total body workouts for every workout, at least three times a week for an hour each, but stay within your limits,” he says. “Do what you can do, where you can do it, when you can do it,” he adds, saying there’s no excuse not to workout.

Errick McAdams is a personal trainer in the D.C. area. Visit his website for more information.