Get in shape for your beach vacay with Apple Watch

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Time to rock that speedo
Time to rock that Speedo
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Summer is almost upon us.* If you’ve been training hard all winter to look awesome in a Speedo on the beach, then you can totally skip this post.

Still here? That’s cool. Because in this post we’ll look at five awesome ways your Apple Watch can help give your body a quick tune-up before you hit the beach this summer.

Every body is beach-body ready

Before we dive in, let’s get one thing straight. The beach is for everybody. So all you really need to do to get beach-ready is:

  • Step 1: put on your swimwear,
  • Step 2: Strap on your Apple Watch,
  • Step 3: That’s it. You’re all set.

There is no need to get in shape to enjoy a trip to the beach. Looking good in a Speedo has as much to do with confidence as anything else. But if you want to feel a bit more confident, there’s still time to fine-tune your physique. Here are my top five tips.

1. Lose It!: one month of dieting will make your muscles pop at the beach

It may seem counterintuitive, but dropping weight can actually make your physique look more muscular. How? Body fat forms a layer between your skin and muscle, like a blanket. Your muscles are hidden underneath it. Reducing the blanket’s thickness gives your muscles more definition, resulting in the classic “ripped” look. (Think Brad Pitt in Fight Club).

If you’re vacation is in July or August, that’s just four to six weeks away. It may seem like a stretch to get ripped like Pitt in that time, but don’t panic. There is no need to resort to a rapid weight loss programs, fasting regimes, dodgy diet teas, or fight clubs. These will do more harm than good.

Lose It!, the calorie counting app, is a much better bet. It will tell you how much you can safely and realistically lose in that time. When you first launch it, you are asked to enter your date of birth, height, weight, gender.

Then you enter your goal weight and get a slider to indicate how quickly or slowly you want to achieve that goal. A little warning box at the bottom of the screen highlights in red if the goal you select is unrealistic.

Adjust the slider to select the date you are going on vacation and if necessary, lower your goal weight to make the warning box turn green. This indicates that your goal is realistic.

You might be surprised by what is possible. Generally speaking, you can safely lose one to two pounds per week. So in six weeks, that’s 12 pounds. It might not sound like a lot, but suppose you weigh 180 pounds. That’s almost 7% of your body weight. Which would have a noticeable impact on your appearance.

Setting your vacation goal in Lose It!
Setting your vacation goal in Lose It!
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

2. Nike Training Club Premium – follow a progressive four-six week program

If you want to make changes in how you look, you have to make changes in what you do. And those changes need to be gradual and progressive, because our bodies don’t take well to anything too sudden.

So if you want to improve your physique within six weeks, doing the same workout every day just won’t cut it. You need a program designed to steadily build up your strength and stamina, reaching your peak condition just when you’re ready to hit the beach.

Fortunately, this kind of progressive workout program is exactly what Nike have just added to their excellent Nike Training Club app. You can select from a range of different programs, designed by “Nike Master Trainers.” Some are designed to do at the gym, but there are others you can do at home without equipment. So there’s something for everyone.

A one month subscription to Nike Training Club Premium costs $14.99 and you get your first week free.

3. Streaks – have a dry month

Did you know that alcohol is so full of energy that cars can run on it instead of gas? (Though don’t blame me if it ruins your engine).

There are seven calories per gram of alcohol. That’s almost twice as much as sugar, which contains four calories per gram. So if you are a bit of a boozer, cutting out alcohol is one of the quickest ways to reduce your calorie consumption.

Why not have a dry-month in the run up to your vacation? It will probably do you some good and it will make you savor that cocktail on a lounger by the pool even more.

Streaks, by Crunchy Bagel ($4.99), is one of the best iOS apps for tracking changes in your habits. Set up a goal called “Don’t Drink Alcohol,” and Streaks will automatically give it an appetising icon of a foaming jug of ale. (OK, so that’s actually not very helpful). Then you just tap on the icon in the watch app every day to confirm you successfully stayed off the booze.

If quitting alcohol completely is unthinkable for you, you can set up a goal for just the weekdays, allowing yourself a little tipple at the weekends.

One of the best features of Streaks is its excellent support for complications, which feature little dots that highlight to indicate if you have completed a daily goal.

Track your dry month with Streaks
Track your dry month with Streaks
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

4. MySwimPro – practice your swimming

There’s more than one way to look good at the beach. A Speedo is not just for posing. It’s for swimming! So if you haven’t been for a dip in a while, why not head down to your local pool and get in some practice lengths before you go?

MySwimPro is ideal if you want to brush up on your breaststroke or improve the style of your freestyle. The watch app makes a great companion when you’re in the pool and it logs your workouts to Apple’s Activity app when you’re done, to be sure you get the credit towards your rings.

But the best thing about MySwimPro is it’s how-to videos, workout programs and online coaching. You’ll find plenty of drills to practice at the pool that will help to improve your technique, so that when you finally get to the beach, you’ll be swimming like Michael Phelps.

A one month subscription to MySwimPro costs $14.99. To read more, check out my post on swimming with Apple Watch.

Give your muscles a last-minute pump with Seven
Give your muscles a last-minute pump with Seven
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

5. Seven – get in a last-minute pump

So you’ve checked in to your hotel. You’ve slipped into your Speedo. And your beach towel is at the ready. It’s still not too late to give your body a final tune-up before you hit the beach.

When you work your muscles, they need more oxygen as fuel, and so they draw more blood to them to deliver that oxygen in a process technically known as hyperaemia but more commonly known as “the pump”.

Considered by most bodybuilders to be the sign of a good workout, the pump gives your muscles a satisfyingly warm, tight feeling. It can also make them look a bit larger, because they contain more blood than normal.

That’s why fitness models often do a quick workout before a photo shoot, to make them really pop. And it’s a trick you can use on vacation with Seven, a workout app for Apple Watch.

Seven features a wide variety of workouts to give your body a final tune-up. You don’t need any equipment and it only take seven minutes (hence the name), so you can get in a quicky in your hotel room before you set off for the beach. There’s even a set of specially design “Beach Ready” workouts.

* If you live in the northern hemisphere, that is