Buff for the Big Day: 10 Best Exercises for Brides

Image Gallery: Wedding Gowns Get fit for the altar with our 10 no-fuss moves. See pictures of wedding gowns.
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Plenty of brides embark on a diet and fitness regimen before walking down the aisle. But with so much on your plate -- choosing flowers for your bouquet, selecting invitations, going to dress fittings -- you need a quick, effective fitness routine that's easy to squeeze into your packed schedule. And depending on the style of your dress, you'll want to work on different areas of your body. Strapless gown? You're after great shoulders. Trumpet silhouette? You want slimmer thighs, stat!

We've got 10 simple exercises that you can do with minimal fuss and equipment. You can even do them in your living room while you're watching TV! Just commit to about three sets of reps for each move at least three or four days per week, and you should see results.

Start on the next page for a no-fuss tone-up routine -- complete with diagrams on how to do each move.

10
Bicep Curls
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If you're wearing a strapless gown, you definitely want your groom (and guests) to ogle your toned, sculpted arms. Your biceps are made up of three main muscles: the brachii, brachialis and brachioradialis. These muscles are responsible for the movement of your arm at the elbow as well as rotating the palm, so any bicep exercises you do should incorporate a palm rotation. You can use dumbbells for this move if you want, but anything with weight will do. Try grabbing a couple of bottled waters to use, and then drink them when you're done with your workout! Aim for three sets of 12 reps per day.

To start, take your weights in each hand. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your arms at your side, palms facing inward. Lift your weights up to your shoulders and back down again, while rotating your palms to face the front of your body. Make sure that your back is straight and that you keep your elbows close to your sides. This counts as one rep. Follow with 11 more reps, then repeat the set two more times.

9
Tricep Dips
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With your back to the crowd for most of your ceremony, you want everyone to notice your nicely sculpted triceps. Tricep dips are the easiest way to tone those arm muscles and you don't even need any equipment to do them. That makes this exercise ideal if you're an on-the-go bride. So, grab a chair or the side of your couch and get to work!

Start in a sitting position with your hands shoulder-width apart on a sturdy chair or bench, fingers pointing forward. Keep your arms mostly straight, with a little bend in them to keep the tension off of your elbows. Bend your elbows and lower your body until your elbows form a 90-degree angle with the floor. Then, push yourself back up to your starting position. This counts as one rep. Aim for three sets of 15 reps.

8
Shoulder Presses
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If your dress is strapless, you'll want your shoulders to look strong and beautiful -- especially if you're planning to wear your hair up. Shoulder presses not only work your trapezius and deltoid shoulder muscles, but they also help strengthen your upper back muscles (the rhomboids), which makes this exercise even more appealing! Again, for this exercise, you can use dumbbells or anything with weight.

Start in a standing position with feel shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold your weights at shoulder height with palms facing inward. Push both weights up above your head, extending your arms fully. Slowly bring your weights back to the starting position at your shoulders. This counts as one rep. Repeat 14 more times to complete one set. Try to do three sets.

7
Push-ups
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Push-ups may seem like an old-fashioned way to exercise your arm muscles, but there's a reason why they're the standard arm workout! They also work many other muscles in your body, including your abs, chest and shoulders. The great thing about push-ups is that you can do them no matter what fitness level you're at -- just modify the move to make it easier or more difficult based on your preference and strength level.

For the standard push-up, start out facedown with your hands on the floor a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Place your toes on the floor and create a diagonal incline with your body. Lower and raise your body by bending your arms at the elbow, but make sure to keep your glutes engaged and your body straight. Depending on your strength level, do three sets of 10-15 pushups. To modify them, start out on your knees instead of your toes.

6
Squats
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If you're wearing a trumpet silhouette, you'll want to do exercises that slim your butt, thighs and legs. Squats are one of the best exercises you can do to tone and tighten your entire lower body without any equipment, making this toning exercise a real time-saver compared to other moves that work one part of your lower body at a time. Squats not only work your glutes, but they also do wonders for your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles. Plus, they're super-easy to do!

To perform the perfect squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Slowly lower your body into a sitting position (your thighs should be parallel with the ground) and then push your body back into a standing position. Make sure not to lock your knees and focus on keeping your back straight. If you want to make this move a little more difficult, hold weights in each hand. Aim for three sets of 15.

5
Lunges
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The lunge is another one of those great exercises for your lower body that you just can't live without. You don't need any equipment, and you can easily do them in front of your TV at home. Like squats, lunges work your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles. If you can do three sets of 10-15 reps daily, you will have a fabulously slim lower body under your dress on your big day!

To do a lunge, start in a standing position with your shoulders back. Take a step forward with your right foot, placing it a few feet in front of you. Bend both legs to a 90-degree angle until your back knee is close to the ground, but not touching it. Push up with your legs and bring your feet back together into the original standing position. Repeat, placing your left foot forward this time. This counts as one rep.

4
Kickbacks
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This exercise is a great way to work your glutes, giving you a butt that will look amazing in your gown -- and in your bikini when you hit the beach on your honeymoon! Plan on knocking out some kickbacks while watching your favorite show at home. Just a heads up: You'll want to do these exercises on a carpeted floor or mat to prevent a nasty rugburn!

Start out on your hands and knees. Pull one knee up close to your chest and then extend your leg out behind you. Keep your back straight and make sure that you are maintaining smooth motion and control in your movements. Do 15 to 25 reps before switching to the other leg.

3
Planks
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Every bride wants fabulous, flat abs under her gown, especially if it fits tightly around the midsection. Planks are a great way to tone your upper abs without breaking much of a sweat. This move works your innermost ab muscles, called the transverse abdominus, which are the muscles responsible for creating the appearance of a flat stomach.

Start in a push-up position, creating a diagonal line with your body from your toes to your head. Put your hands directly under your shoulders and keep your feet together. Hold this position for as long as you can, making sure you're engaging your abdominal muscles to hold yourself up. You'll feel the burn if you hold this pose long enough! For a more difficult version, do the plank pose with your forearms resting on the floor, creating a straight line with your body instead of a diagonal line.

2
Leg Lifts
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Contrary to popular belief, your lower abs aren't a separate muscle group. They're actually part of a larger muscle called the rectus abdominus. The rectus abdominus is made up of sections that form what we understand as a "six pack." Leg lifts work the lower abs because lifting your legs creates more resistance since they're farther away from your center. So, you can actually tone your stomach without a single sit-up. Cool, huh?

To accomplish the leg lift, start by lying on your back on the floor with your arms at your sides. Using your ab muscles, pull your legs straight up in the air, lifting your butt slightly off of the floor. Slowly lower your legs back down to the ground. This counts as one rep. Aim for five to10 reps, but do less if you find yourself breaking form. For this exercise, quality is more important than quantity.

1
Side Crunches
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The dreaded side crunches. Yes, most people dislike these, but they really are a great way to work out those common problem areas. The side crunch is a fast and easy way to target the internal and external oblique muscles, which are responsible for those silly love handles!

Start out by lying on your back on the floor and turn both of your knees to the right. Slowly lift your shoulders off the floor and move your body straight up and then back down to the floor as if you were doing a regular crunch. Make sure that you keep your knees turned to the right as you do the crunch. Repeat eight to 15 times and then switch your knees to the left for another eight to15 reps.

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Sources

  • Askthetrainer.com. "Lunge Exercise." (Oct. 22, 2010). http://askthetrainer.com/lunge-exercise.html
  • Center for Young Women's Health. "Upper Body: Overhead Shoulder Press." (Oct. 21, 2010). http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/fitness/ti_shldr_press.html
  • Fit Sugar. "Back to Basics: Triceps Dips." Feb. 20, 2008. (Oct. 21, 2010). http://www.fitsugar.com/How-Do-Triceps-Dips-1055754
  • Orbanic, Sarah. "Your Ab Reveal." Oxygenmag.com. (Oct. 23, 2010). http://oxygenmag.com/main.php?page=1&id=427
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  • Real Women's Fitness. "The Squat is the Queen of all Exercises for Toned, Sexy Legs and Butt." (Oct. 20, 2010). http://realwomensfitness.com/lower-body-exercises/the-queen-of-all-exercises-for-toned-sexy-legs-and-butt/