Beach Body Workout
It's time for sun, fun, and, if you're like millions of women, stress. Despite dozens of figure-flattering swimsuit styles, one-third of women still find bathing suit season so distressing they refuse to be seen in one, according to an MSNBC survey of about 30,000 women. That's why this summer, Prevention's got your back and your front and your love handles covered with our fast Beach Body Workout. This two-part plan includes exercises to tone all your trouble spots and a cardio routine to melt away fat so you can enjoy the body-baring season without worry.
The Bikini Shape-Up moves will firm you up and boost your overall body confidence. In a study of nearly 80 women, University of Houston and Old Dominion University researchers found that after just 6 weeks of strength training, women rated themselves as more attractive and had less anxiety about their figures.
"These moves target those 'bathing suit muscles' that you don't want to think about until you have to put them on display," says Howard Schissler, a body-sculpting and Pilates instructor at Chelsea Piers in New York City, who helped design this workout.
And the Calorie-Sizzling Cardio routine will speed up your results so you can uncover with confidence in just 4 weeks.
These exercises work every muscle from your shoulders to your thighs. Do this 30-minute routine 3 days a week on nonconsecutive days. Complete two or three sets of each exercise, performing the specified number of reps before going on to the next move.
Curl Down-Curl Up
A. Sit with legs bent, feet flat on ground, and arms extended at chest height. Lift breastbone to sit tall.
B. Using abs for control, slowly roll down one vertebra at a time, allowing spine to curve naturally and arms to come overhead as you lie back onto the ground. Slowly curl back up. Do 8 reps.
(Firms lower back and glutes)
A. Lie facedown with hands at sides. Keeping head and neck in straight line, lift chest 2 to 4 inches off ground. Hips and tops of feet should stay anchored. Hold for two breaths, then slowly lower. Do 8 reps.
B. With toes pointed, contract glutes and hamstrings and lift and extend both legs 6 to 12 inches off ground. Hold for two breaths, then slowly lower. Do 8 reps.
C. Lift chest and legs simultaneously, balancing on pelvis. Hold for two breaths, then slowly lower. Do 8 reps.
A. Sit on left hip with legs to side and right foot just in front of left. Place left hand on ground beneath left shoulder and right hand on right leg.
B. In one motion, contract obliques (side torso muscles), lift hips off ground, and sweep right arm overhead, so body forms a diagonal line. Hold for two breaths, then slowly lower. Do 4 reps. Switch sides and repeat.
This pre-photo shoot trick from swimsuit models will give your body and confidence an instant pick-me-up. Do two or three of your favorite Bikini Shape-Up moves before you slip into your swimsuit, then grab your towel and glow.
(Tightens abs and glutes)
A. Assume push-up position with hands directly beneath shoulders and legs straight.
B. Keeping abs tight and torso stable, contract glutes, and raise left leg 6 to 12 inches. Hold for two breaths, then lower. Do 8 reps. Switch legs and repeat.
Beach Ball Squeeze
(Slims inner thighs)
Lie on back with arms at sides. Place large, firm beach ball (or exercise ball) between legs and raise legs until perpendicular to body. Feet should be flexed and legs bent slightly. Using inner thigh muscles, slowly squeeze into the ball for a count of 4. Pause, then slowly "unsqueeze" to a count of 4, without completely releasing tension. Do 10 reps.
(Shapes glutes and hamstrings)
A. Lie on back with arms at sides, knees bent, and feet flat on ground, about hip-width apart. Contract glutes and lift hips up toward the sky to form a straight diagonal line from shoulders to knees. Straighten right leg and extend it toward sky.
B. Lower hips 2 to 3 inches, then press into left foot, contract glutes, and lift hips back up. (Right leg remains in air the entire time.) Do 10 short lifts. Then switch sides and repeat. (If too challenging, start by performing move with both feet flat on ground.)
(Trims hips, glutes, and thighs)
A. Stand straight with hands on hips (or one on a wall for balance), heels together, and toes and knees turned out to sides as far as comfortably possible. Keeping torso and hips steady, brush right foot against ground as you lift right leg (toes pointed) straight out in front as far as possible without moving hips. Return to start.
B. Using same technique, lift leg out to side. Return to start.
C. Lift leg behind you. Return to start; that's one rep. Do 3 reps. Switch legs and repeat.
(Sculpts chest and shoulders)
Hold large, firm beach ball (or exercise ball) between hands. Lift breastbone, contract chest muscles, and squeeze ball as firmly as possible for a count of 5. Release ball slightly, then squeeze again. Do 16 reps.
5 Body-Sculpting Rules for Faster Results
To maintain your posture (read: beautify your body in seconds), keep your chest open, shoulders down and back, head level, and spine long.
Contract your core
Engage your abs, back, and obliques (side torso muscles), keeping them taut at all times.
Keep your muscles active
Focus on contracting the muscles you're working throughout the move.
Remember, quality beats quantity
Perform only as many reps as you can do with good form. As soon as you get sloppy, call it quits.
Perfect your breath
Inhale and exhale deeply and evenly throughout each move. Don't hold your breath or gasp for air.
Calorie-Sizzling Cardio Plan
To get a beach-ready body, "you need to bounce the heart rateóget it out of your comfort zone for short bursts," says Jan Griscom, an elite trainer at Chelsea Piers in New York City. By turning up the intensity in short bouts, you'll burn about 40 percent more calories than you would if you worked out at a moderate but even intensity.
This cardio plan works with any type of aerobic exercise, including walking, cycling, and swimming. For the best results, do this 25-minute routine 4 or 5 days a week and choose activities that target your most troublesome body part. To slim your hips and thighs, try walking on hilly terrain, inline skating, or cycling. For belly-flattening cardio, choose rowing or swimming.
Warm up by performing your activity of choice at an easy intensity for 4 minutes, gradually increasing your effort to a moderate intensity level of 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 for another minute. (1 is not much harder than reading; at level 10 you're running so hard that you can't speak.) From there, ramp up and perform the following bounce intervals at an intensity of 7 to 9:
30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds. Between each bounce interval, recover for 1 minute at level 5 or 6. Cool down for 4 minutes when you're done.
"If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am."