Bikini szn is fast approaching, and you know what that means: Time to try on bathing suits, wonder what the hell happened to the ab crack you totally had last summer, remember that you spent the whole winter eating mozzarella sticks, and then look up where your gym is actually located so you can use that membership you forgot about once August hit. So I did some research and compiled a list of some of the best workouts to tone different parts of your body. Let this list guide you the next time you’re too broke to pay for another SoulCycle class or you’re feeling lost at the gym. Bonus, a lot of these exercises can be done from the comfort of your own home, and we all know not leaving your house always beats actually going outside.
For some people, having abs is way easier than others (thank you, genetics). I personally have abs, they just so happen to be hiding behind a layer of fat. But before you start doing a million crunches, there are a ton of ab exercises that are way better than traditional crunches. For instance, doing Pilates is a killer way to get abs. If you’ve never tried it, it’s super hard but effective, since it incorporates a ton of ab-targeted exercises. The plank is another of the best workouts to tone your abs, but it can get boring. These exercises below are a little more complex than simple crunches or planks, yet still effective in toning your abs.
Double Dumbbell Drag: Start in a plank position with a dumbbell or kettlebell on the outside of your right arm. While engaging your core and ensuring you don’t move your hips, take your left arm under your right and move the dumbbell/kettlebell to the outside of your left arm. Repeat with the right arm. Make sure to keep your wrist beneath your shoulders. Add a push-up if you’re fancy.
Plank Hand Taps: If someone is hogging the dumbbells, this one is perfect for you. Start in a plank position and lift your left hand to tap your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
Alternating Toe Reach: Lie on your back with your legs straight on the ground and arms straight above your head. Raise your right hand to meet your left leg in the air above your body. Make sure to engage your abs with each move. Repeat with your left hand and right leg.
A fear of mine is to have the dreaded chicken wing arms, but toning your arms takes a lot of commitment. That means when I don’t want to work out, I Google images of Michelle Obama’s arms and that motivates me real quick. Here are some of the best arm toning exercises I found.
Upright Row: Stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand, in front of your legs. Raise your arms until they reach your chest, keeping the front of your hands straight in front of you. Lower your arms back down. Repeat.
Tricep Kickbacks: Stand with your legs hip-width apart and your upper body slightly leaning forward from your hips. With a dumbbell in each hand, bend your arm from your elbow towards your chest, then back behind you.
Dumbbell Punch: Standing hip-width apart and with a dumbbell in each hand, pretend you are punching your ex in the face, alternating between each hand.
We all like nice butts, and we cannot lie, and sometimes traditional squats won’t cut it. If you’re tired of people telling you to do squats, here are some more interesting exercises.
Plie Squat: If you speak in ballet talk, start in second position with your feet turned out. If you don’t, click here. Go into a plie (aka a squat). Keep your core engaged and each time you recover from the squat, squeeze your butt.
Split Squat Jump: Start with your feet together, and jump up, landing with your legs split in a plie squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Push up from the squat and jump your legs back together.
Fire Hydrant: Get on all fours, and lift your left leg up like you are a dog peeing on a fire hydrant. Keep your back flat by engaging your core. Do 15 reps and repeat on the right side.
If Beyoncé has taught me one thing, it’s that toned legs make all the difference.
Reverse Lunge: Start with your legs together. Lift your right leg and bend into a lunge. Bring your feet back together. Repeat with your left leg.
Pistol Squat: Balance on your right leg with your left leg lifted just above the ground. With your arms straight in front of you, lower yourself to the ground and then back up. Repeat with your right leg extended in front of you.
Lateral (Band) Walk: Stand with your legs together. If you want extra resistance, place a resistance band around your knees. Open your right leg to be about hip-width apart and then bring your left leg to meet your right. Repeat starting with your left leg.
Rocking a backless top and showcasing a toned af back would be amazing. Other than the fact that I always need to wear a bra (thanks DDD), my back isn’t as toned,
tanned, fit, and ready as I’d like it to be. Basically, I should take my own advice and do these workouts more often.
Reverse Fly: Leaning forward from your hips, place your arms straight below you with a dumbbell in each hand. Open your arms to each side, keeping them straight. Squeeze your shoulder blades and then release your arms back in front of you.
Forward Raise: Keeping your legs hip-width apart, back straight, and a dumbbell in each hand, extend your arms straight in front of you. Once they are in line with your shoulders, lower them back to your legs.
Lateral Raise: Repeat the above exercise, but instead of raising your arms in front of you, raise them to either side of you.
Some people believe working out your chest will give your boobs a perky boost. I’ve never stuck to an exercise long enough to see any results, but lmk in the comments if you have.
Medicine Ball Push-Up: Do a traditional push-up, but place a medicine ball under your right hand so your back is on a slant. Repeat with the medicine ball under your left hand.
Chest Fly: Lie on your back with your legs bent in an L shape. With a dumbbell in each hand, hold them straight above your chest toward the ceiling. Open your arms until your elbows hover over the ground, but keep your forearms towards the ceiling. Engage your abs to keep your legs supported.
Dumbbell Pullover: Lie on your back with your legs bent, like you are about to do a crunch. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms above your head towards the back of the room, then raise them towards the ceiling until they are directly over your shoulders. Repeat.
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Everyone is obsessed with butt and arm workouts these days, but it feels like we’re missing some main body parts here. There’s nothing worse than having back fat and love handles, so it’s important that, in addition to working other body parts, you also do back strengthening exercises that will tone your back, slim your waist, and give you amazing posture. This workout targets the back, waist, and a little bit of the abs, so you can look amazing as the layers start coming off for summer. And just feel good in general. Here’s the back workout.
1. Lying Back Extensions
This move is both a warm-up and an actual exercise. It serves as a lower back workout, which is important because your lower back is usually a sensitive area and can get injured pretty easily, so it’s best to do these before you do any sort of back workout or waist- and ab-focused exercises. Lay out a mat and then lie on your stomach with your head facing the floor and your arms out over your head in a “Y” shape. Then, slowly lift your legs and arms off the floor, keeping only the area from your stomach to your thighs on the mat (if that’s too hard, leave your legs alone and just lift your upper body). Lower back down and then lift back up for 10 reps, feeling the tension in your lower back each time.
2. Rowing Machine
The rowing erg is a cardio machine, but it’s totally different than the treadmill or StairMaster because you’re using your entire bodyweight to pull the machine toward you. It’s specifically a great back workout that also tones your abs, and you’re burning calories at the same time. Set the machine to the “meters” setting and put it on a resistance between 6 and 10, depending on if you’ve used the rowing machine before or not. Hold onto the handles and put your feet in the straps, and then row the handles toward your chest, using your legs to push off the front surface and your back to bring the handle in. Think legs, then core, then arms. Try rowing for 250 meters straight, keeping good posture and your core engaged the whole time. This should get your heart rate up pretty quickly.
3. TRX Rows
There are so many different rowing exercises you can do, but I prefer TRX rows to the machine rows or dumbbell rows because the TRX straps ensure that you’re keeping constant tension in your back muscles throughout the exercise to give you a really good back workout. If you don’t have a TRX in your gym, you can use the cables to get the same effect. The idea is to hold onto the TRX straps with each hand and walk your feet inward, creating a diagonal line with your body. Note that the farther you move in, the harder it will be. Once you find a position that is challenging enough, hang with your arms straight, and then slowly row the straps in toward your armpits, squeezing at the top. If it’s too hard, take a few steps back. Do 15 reps total.
4. Russian Twists
I know Russia’s a sensitive topic lately, but this exercise has nothing to do with the country. Or at least, I don’t think it does. The Russian twist is actually an oblique exercise, but the muscles it targets are right under your love handles, so it’s a great waist slimming move. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell, and keep it hovering over your chest, but not pressing into your body. Start by sitting down on the floor and placing your feet out in front of you, raised a few inches above the ground. Your knees should be slightly bent and your torso should be elevated off the ground, making a V-shape with your thighs. Holding the weight with both hands, move it from one side of you to the other, tapping the ground next to you each time. Aim for 20 reps.
5. Lat Pulldowns
This is the one exercise in this workout that requires a weights machine, but it’s worth it because this back exercise is amazing for developing good posture and making your waist look more narrow. The lat pulldown machine looks intimidating, but it’s really simple. This machine works the Latissimus Dorsi muscle, which basically gives your whole torso its shape. Play around with the weight to see what feels good for you, and then grip the bar with both hands and sit down, facing the machine. Pull down on the bar while squeezing your back and bring the bar to chest level, aiming for your collar bone. Squeeze your back for a second and then let go of the tension to bring the bar back up, which should feel like you’re stretching your arms. Do 10 reps.
6. Plank Cross Reaches
This move looks simple, but if you’re engaging your core and keeping your hips square the whole time, you should really feel these in your oblique, hip, and lower back regions. Start in a high plank with your feet behind you, keeping them a little wider than shoulder width. Raise your right hand and your left leg off the ground, and reach your hand to your knee by twisting with your core. Then, return to the plank and do the same on the other side. Try doing 10 reaches per side, and if you feel your hips swaying, bring your feet a little wider apart for stability.
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