With summer well underway, the obsession with beach-worthy bodies is once again reaching its peak. Are you a freshly cracked exercise nut? Or maybe just a health enthusiast with a penchant for the outdoors? Whatever your case, fitness is on the menu today, and we concocted a handy little guide for you!

Looking for the best fitness advice of the season to add spice to the time-proven truths, we called a few Nashville personal training experts and asked them to share the tricks of their trade! Enjoy!

You need to do more than just cardio

A lot of the workout guides out there swear by cardio-based programs. They strengthen and maintain your cardiovascular system, improve your mood, burn calories, and help increase endurance. However, if you are looking to actually lose some excess weight, you need to have some love time with the dumbbells and barbells, say our experts.

Strength training is done for its long-term benefits, not just for burning calories while you sweat. Building up a solid stack of muscle mass raises the level of your resting metabolism, so you will burn more accumulated fat even if you are just idly sitting around. Good muscles will also improve your form and protect your spine and joints from injury during running, swimming, hiking, and other such activities.

Upgrade your diet to match your workout routine

Good exercise without good nutrition is basically wasted effort. Out-performing a bad diet is impossible even for a professional athlete, so get on top of your kitchen game!

After you lose some weight, your metabolism slows down. This is the chief reason why dieting tends to “bounce back” – your body thinks there is no more food, so it slows down its metabolic processes, so it becomes easier to gain weight again (your system’s way of building an emergency survival stock). Good workout regimes can help reduce this effect.

However, they are no good without a proper dietary overhaul. This is a key factor in optimizing your training on the whole and getting the best results possible. Remember, it is perfectly okay to start small. Drastic changes over a short span of time are unhealthy anyway.

Start by taking less sugar or honey in your coffee or tea. Make a point of having a bit of salad as a side dish to every lunch. Stick with it for two weeks and see how you do. If it seems to be going well, think of two more small things you can do and add them into the mix. For example, eat one piece of fruit every day. Have one meal of fish, once a week. Keep going slow and steady like that, and suddenly you will have built up a sustainable, nutritious, and delicious new diet regime!

Sometimes a diet means adding things

Yep, believe it or not, dieting can be flipped right around like that. Instead of generally starving yourself, cutting back on certain types of groceries, or even cutting them out completely, sometimes you need to add food to the plate instead.

If you intake too few calories, all of the muscle mass you built up will start to break down. The weight loss you get from subtractive dieting is typically the loss of muscle, not fat. Moreover, when you finally return to a more regular food regime, your body will be so damaged and your metabolism will be so slow, that you will be unable to handle even just regular eating, and will gain all that weight back in no time flat – this time in the form of accumulated fat.

So instead, start adding things to your plate. Add color: fruits and vegetables have the vitamins and minerals you need. Add nuts on top of sweet dishes and seeds on top of everything. Add fish or seafood to your menu on an occasional but steady basis. Make your meals more packed with good nutrients every time you make or buy something. Make yourself healthier while making your body more capable of handling the workouts you throw it into.

Always keep the fun levels high

One major piece of advice that experts think their clients’ disregard way too easily is this simple thing: have fun with your workouts and recipes! Forget about exercising until you drop. You have no need for that, and it can actually be downright damaging. Moreover, having something like that to do will make you hate it, and when you hate it, you are eager to skip.

But did you know that gardening, dancing, hiking etc. also count as exercise? Forget the complicated gym equipment and those movement patterns that are too hard to memorize. A regular activity you enjoy brings better results. Use fun to take away your own excuses!