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.
Images: Luis Quintero / Unsplash, Giphy (16), Tenor (1) Gfycat (1)
All these exercises strengthen butts and legs at the same, but most importantly, without a strong core (which, in pilates, we refer to as The Powerhouse), your shoulder and hips will tighten as a result of bearing the brunt weight of your body.
These exercises are typically performed in a systematic order of the classical pilates to be more effective. Before taking on any of these exercises, make sure you’ve already exercised. For example, jogging, bicycling, Soulcycle, etc. would all work. This is to ensure that your muscles and joints are supple, to sustain and keep the form of these exercises with consistency.
Single Legs Kicks
Setup: Lie flat on your stomach, nose to the mat, and place your palms in line with your ears. Engage your abs, press the floor away with your palms into straight arms, lift your chest up and stretch it forward, bending the elbows just under your shoulders, with each hand in a fist to anchor you, and your head in line with your spine, eyes leveled.
Movement: Kick the heel of your foot to your bottom in a dynamic motion like “kick kick” and switch, “kick kick” and switch. As you kick your heels, keep your hips and butt stable by pressing the hip flexors to that mat, zip the inner thighs, and keep the knees together. Engage your glutes, and kick for 3 sets. Do not let your booty pop up, hence why you press the hips to the mat. Be mindful not to let your lower back collapse either, which is why your abs must be engaged with a pull in and up.
Modifications: Lower your abs down to the mat with your chest up and forward, with your elbows slightly forward, and your hands in a fist in line with your elbows, and kick your heels to your bottom.
Double Leg Kick
The double leg kick is the next progression after double kicks.
Setup: Remain flat on your abs after the single leg kicks, with your chest down, on the right side of the face on the mat. Keep your neck long, and stack the palms on top of each other in the small of your back, ideally in the mid back close to the shoulder blades.
Movement: Kick the heels of your feet to your butt, 1-2-3. Lift the chest forward, then stretch and reach the arms behind you, over your butt and hands folded, to further open your chest. Then, turn your head to the left side of the face, lift and reach arms again, and repeat. Abs must be engaged, and legs stretched long when straight. Repeat 3 sets.
Modifications: If your shoulders or arms are tight, and it’s too difficult to stack them on top of your lower back, rest the back of your hands on top of your butt or on the mat when kicking your heels to the bottom, and lift your arms up in line with your hips when you lift your chest up and forward.
Leg Pull down
Setup: In a plank position, put your elbows and wrist right under your shoulders, with your legs straightened out, and the heels of your feet together, toes apart, navel to spine.
Movement: Pull navel to spine. Flex toes to rock back in a straight line, and point your toes to lengthen your whole frame forward. Keep pulling your navel to the spine, and resist the gravity of your back collapsing down into the joints by lifting back up to the sky. After 3 sets of repetitions, lift the right leg and rock back and forth and repeat on the left side.
Modifications: If balancing your upper body on your palms is too much pressure on the joints, bend the elbows and rock back and forth on elbows with hands in a fist. Just remember to resist the gravity of the body upwards. Imagine you’re balancing a tray with glass on it on your back, and don’t let it slip off while moving. You have to balance it by keeping your back straight and level.
Leg Pull Up
The leg pull up is the next profession from leg pull down.
Setup: Start by sitting on the mat, knees bent, feet flat on the mat, arms stretched behind in line with shoulders, and palms on the mat. Lift your hips up in line with your knees and straighten the legs in front in two steps, heels together and toes apart.
Movement: Engage your abs and lift your right leg up, pointing the toes. Do not scrunch your feet, reach them like you’re trying touch something in front of you, and maintain the height on of your hips as you lower the leg down the mat. Flexing, lift the left leg, reaching the toes, and repeat the same motion. Repeat for 3 sets.
Modifications: To modify this exercise, keep your hips up, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor and your feet and knees together. Keeping your knees in line with your ankles, progress to extend the right leg straight up from and in line with the hips, and with both knees leveled in even height, lower the right leg straight down to the mat to the height of the left ankle. Lift it back up to the knee’s height, bend the knee, and switch to the left. Repeat the same exercise as the right leg. Repeat this in 3-5 sets.
Caution: This exercise is very challenging on the hips and shoulders, as you can stiffen up when locking your joints. The key to sustaining this exercise is to keep the heaviest parts of the trunk (i.e. chest and hips) up.
Images: Michele Paniz Photography
91 percent of Americans give up on their New Year’s resolutions, and I’m guessing they just got bored on the treadmill and decided to call it a day. Working out is boring, obviously. Every online fitness article shows us the same squat challenges and stupid 10-minute ab routines, but like, how many times can we keep working the same muscles? It’s repetitive and annoying, and it’s time we start working the muscles that we’re not always told to care about on Instagram. Before you dismiss these muscle groups because you’re “scared of machines” or “don’t wanna get bulky,” listen to why you should definitely pay attention to them. I mean, you can do burpees and sit-ups forever, but don’t complain when you completely plateau and start Googling Gigi Hadid’s workout routine. Here’s a breakdown of the muscles you should stop neglecting, and what exercises you should start doing for each one.
What Are They?
Your deltoid muscles are basically your shoulder muscles, and there are different parts to the muscle, but the two you should care about are the front delts and the lateral delts. You might be scared that by working your shoulder muscles you’ll bulk up like a football player, but realistically, that’s not gonna happen unless you’re literally lifting your bodyweight and consuming a shit ton of protein. Toning your shoulder muscles will make your whole arm look more defined and just so much better, and the most ideal way is to work the front of the muscle and the side of it in one workout to tone every angle.
What Exercise Should I Do?
The Lateral Raise to Front Raise. Choose two dumbbells that are lighter than what you’d usually pick up. Your shoulder muscles are strong, but the side and front parts of the muscle can usually only handle very light weight, so think anywhere between three and eight pounds—maybe 10 if you do these regularly. Standing up while holding a dumbbell in each hand and your elbows slightly bent, raise the weights directly in front of you, bringing them to shoulder height with your arms extended. Then, lower them back down, and raise them again, this time laterally to the sides of your body. It should reach shoulder height again, but they’re raised out to the sides instead of in front of you. You can even add in a lunge if you want to make this a total body move. Aim for 10 reps total, then rest for a minute and do another 10.
2. Lat Muscles
What are they?
The biggest muscle in your back is called the Latissimus Dorsi, and it basically gives your whole torso its shape. It’s technically the muscle that makes up your upper back, which you’ve probably never even thought about. When you work your upper back, you’re strengthening the muscles all around your core and back, which will actually help your back get stronger, your posture get better, and your waist look smaller. You’ve neglected this muscle till now, but it’s never too late to start sculpting a sexy back.
What Exercise Should I Do?
Lat Pulldowns. Find the lat pull-down bar at your gym. You’ve probably passed this in fear a million times, but it’s really not that scary, so it’s time to use it. Start by choosing a light weight, and then add weight as you get the hang of it. The idea is to put your hands on both sides of the pull-down bar, sit down on the seat facing the machine, and pull the bar down, squeezing the muscles under your armpits and around your upper back to bring the weights down. If you feel like you’re using your shoulders too much, think about keeping your shoulders as far away from your ears as possible. You’re using your arms, but the strength should be coming from your back, so it’s super important to think about the muscle here.
3. Lower Ab Muscles
What are they?
If you spend your time in the gym doing planks, crunches, and twists, you’re doing really good work for the top of your abs and your obliques, but most people tend to neglect the lower muscles in their abs because they’re the hardest to hit. Most people’s bodies tend to store fat in this region, so it can be hard to picture what I’m even talking about, but think about that V-shape at the bottom of Zac Efron’s abs. Those are the lower abs.
What Exercise Should I Do?
Lying Leg Raises. Start by lying on your back with your hands under your low back/the top of your butt. This will help protect your lower back from getting injured. Then, lift your legs off the ground, keeping them as straight as possible as you bring them up to 90 degrees. Then, SLOWLY lower them back down to the ground. These are meant to be done slowly and carefully, so if you find yourself kicking around and screwing up your form, slow the hell down. Also, a lot of people tend to hold their breath when doing this exercise, but don’t. Inhale as you lift your legs up, and exhale as you lower. Your breathing makes a huge difference here, so don’t forget about that part.
What are they?
Your hamstring muscles are located on the back of your legs, right under your butt and above your knees. People neglect their hamstrings because we’re so into squats and booty donkey kicks, but by strengthening your hamstrings, you’ll actually help tone your butt at the same time. Plus, if you’re into spinning, you’ll get SO much better at it by strengthening your hamstrings. Like, your FlyWheel score will literally double.
What Exercise Should I Do?
Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls. This exercise is based on using a swiss ball or stability ball, but if your gym doesn’t have one, this can also work using TRX bands or the rowing machine. Begin on the floor by lying on your back with your feet up on top of the ball. You want your ankles to be on top of the ball when your legs are fully extended. Raise your hips off the ground, keeping your weight in your shoulders and your feet. Then, flex your knees, pulling the ball inward toward your body while squeezing the backs of your legs. Once the ball is “curled” inward, straighten out your legs again, rolling it outwards. Do 10 reps, then take a quick break and do another 10.
5. Inner Core Muscles
What are they?
Let’s clear something up. There’s a difference between your ab muscles and your core muscles. You can do a thousand unweighted sit-ups everyday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re strengthening your core. Your pelvic floor, for example, is part of your inner core, and it’s important to strengthen these inner muscles—not only to make us better at planking, but also to pretend our internal organs and actually have better control over our bladder. Most women don’t even know about these muscles, but they’re super important, especially if you plan on giving birth at some point in your life.
What Exercise Should I Do?
Oppose Arm and Leg Raises. Aside from your gyno-prescribed kegels, it’s important to work on core stability to work these inner muscles, and working opposite sides of your body at once is the best way to challenge your core. Starting on your hands and knees, lift your right arm out in front of you and your left leg out behind you. Hold for five seconds, and then return to starting position, preparing to do the same on the other side. Try doing five reps on each side and remember to keep your core tight the entire time.
6. Back Extensor Muscles
What are they?
These muscles make up your lower back, and if you’re used to doing ab workouts, squats, deadlifts, or even spinning, you’ve probably had some pain in your lower back at one point or another. This is because these muscles are easily injured if you don’t warm up before exercising. Your extensor muscles are connected to your spine and to your glute muscles, and you’ll find that once you get stronger in your lower back region, picking things up and other regular activities will actually get easier.
What Exercise Should I Do?
Hyperextensions. Most gyms have a specific bench that these are performed on, but any regular bench will do the trick if you’re limited. Lie down with your stomach on the bench and your head facing the floor. If you’re on the hyperextension bench, put your feet under the ankle pads. With your body straight, put your arms behind your head or crossed on your chest and bend slowly forward at the waist while keeping your back flat. Then, slowly raise your torso back to your starting position, and remember not to round your spine or swing your torso. If you’re advanced, hold a weighted plate at your chest for extra resistance. Either way, remember to go slow and take your time on your way down and up.
Images: Geert Pieters / Unsplash. Giphy (5)
Summer is literally right around the corner and I am PISSED that no one notified me about this. Like, I just hung up my puffy coat two
months weeks ago and you suddenly expect me to shed my dry AF winter skin and wine- and cheese-induced body already?? I am not Khloé Kardashian, I can’t just hire a plastic surgeon personal trainer to whip me and my pale AF legs into shape. Sighs. Tbh I haven’t felt this personally victimized since last May, when summer suddenly appeared every year like it’s supposed to out of fucking nowhere. Way harsh, Tai. Way harsh.
That being said, I am amazing at faking things. Just ask any of my Bumble dates when they meet me in person or my coworkers who think I’m “upbeat” and “positive.” Lol yeah, like positively dead inside. So why should faking great summer legs be any different? And for once, America’s dermatologists are not out to ruin our lives and actually have some helpful shit to say about this. Miracles. So listen up, because I’m about to tell you the
dermatologist recommended betch approved beauty products you need to fake having great legs this summer. Don’t ever say money can’t buy you happiness legs you aren’t afraid to show in public.
Dry AF Winter Skin
Honestly, I try to never leave my apartment between the months of January and April, but there’s only so many brunches I’m willing to miss. And New York’s winter weather has wreaked havoc on my skin as punishment. If you want the scientific explanation for wtf is happening to your skin, it has to do with your skin cells not falling off the way they’re supposed to. Ew. In order to look summer Friday ready you need to nourish the fuck out of your skin. Step one is to use a cleanser that won’t strip your skin of moisture, like Dove Body Wash. Step two is to moisturize and we suggest using Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion. Seems obvious, but so does diet and exercise to lose weight, and does anyone really do that? I thought not.
I’d like to say that I’m too young for cellulite but I’d also like to say that I don’t eat my weight in pizza 2-3 times a week and really I don’t feel too confident commenting on either of those topics rn. Since I don’t want you to put me down for cardio I guess I’m just going to have to fake this one too, and the best way to hide cellulite is with tan skin. Case in point: the Kardashians. Those hoes wouldn’t be caught dead wearing clothing, ditto for showing any sort of
human weakness cellulite. Some may attribute this to their team of highly skilled plastic surgeons, but I attribute this to those surgeons AND having tan AF skin.
I suggest using Sally Hansen’s Airbrush Legs for this. It costs less than whatever you’re about to order off of Seamless tonight, plus it leaves your legs looking glowy and lean AF.
Aka the reason I go to the gynecologist multiple times a year in a state of panic. Most people forget about the top part of your legs, which is only really relevant if you don’t want to look like shit in your obligatory summer poolside Instagram pic. Fucking duh. And aside from giving me mild heart attacks, these little fuckers are v painful and hard to hide in a bikini. Dermatologists suggest exfoliating the area before you shave and also shaving the way your hair grows, as if we didn’t already know that shit. Jesus. I retract my earlier statements about dermatologists being helpful. But if you’re already screwed and have razor burn and/or ingrown hairs try using an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. It will relieve the itching and the redness so you won’t be walking around looking like you caught a really bad STD.
Congratulations. You now have legs that are socially acceptable to be seen in the Hamptons, which is really all we were striving for in the first place. K, if you need me I’ll just be
working out watching workout videos on YouTube.
There are a lot of random workout trends and weird body goals that go in and out of style, but in 2017 everyone wants a good butt, no questions asked. I mean, ever since it became acceptable to go out in leggings and to wear bikinis that are made with less material than your red string bracelet from Birthright, the butt has really taken its place as one of the most important body parts. With summer coming up, the clock is fucking ticking, so get off your ass and get it toned and perky in time. Do each of these seven moves for 45 seconds each, then repeat the circuit another 2-3 times total for a kickass workout, pun intended (and the only acceptable occasion to use the word “kickass”).
1. Goblet Squats
Goblet squats sound scary, but they’re just regular squats that you’ll do while holding a kettlebell for added weight. We’re not hating on bodyweight squats, but you’ll see results so much faster while holding a heavy weight, so why do 500 normal squats when you can get a perkier butt by doing like 20 weighted ones? Exactly. Stand holding a kettlebell at your chest (15-40 pounds) with the horns facing downward. With your weight in your heels, squat down until your hamstrings are on your calves and remember to keep your chest and head up to avoid hurting your back. Pause for a second at the bottom, then come back up while squeezing your butt to activate your
thot powers muscles.
2. Split Squats
Split squats are different than conventional squats because they focus on your right and left sides individually, so you can hit every part of the muscle. This move actually looks more like a lunge, but they really target the bottom of your glutes, so you’ll feel them tomorrow morning. Stand with your right foot forward and your left foot behind you, with both knees bent. Dip downward, bending your legs into a 90-degree angle, trying to get your back knee to touch the ground. Then, come back up by driving through your heel. Alternate reps on each side, and remember to keep the front knee in line with your front foot. Add a weight in your hands if you’ve got it down.
3. Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell swings are one of those exercises that can be done SO wrong if no one explains what the fuck you’re supposed to be doing. First of all, this is a LOWER BODY movement, so if you feel yourself using your arms too much, you’re doing it wrong. You’re supposed to feel it in your butt. The idea is to grab a heavy kettlebell (25-50 pounds), and place it on the ground in front of you. Hinge your hips and lift the bell up, hiking it in between your legs so that it’s basically touching your butt. Then, swing the bell forward with your hips, making sure it stays above your knees on the way up and swings to chest-height. Then keep swinging in that same motion from between your thighs to your chest. If you find it easy to swing it that high up, get a heavier kettlebell. Your ponytail should be a hot mess by the end of the 45 seconds.
4. Single Leg Raises
Single leg raises might actually be the single best exercise to make your butt perk up like, three inches. Make sure you take your time on these, because it’s not a fucking race. Start by laying on your back with both feet on the ground and your legs bent. Raise your hips up to the sky, like you’re in a bridge position in fourth grade gymnastics, and then point one leg up while keeping the other bent. Dip your butt up and down for 10 reps, then hold at the top for 10 seconds before you switch sides. Remember to squeeze your butt to really use your muscle. If you’re not feeling the burn and you feel like you’re just humping the sky, you’re not doing it right, and it’s pretty embarrassing and everyone is judging you.
5. Sumo Jump Squats
Tired of the word squat yet? Spoiler alert: too fucking bad. They work. These squats are amazing because they target your inner thigh area while getting your heart rate up, so you’re toning your butt and burning calories at the same time. Start in a regular squat position, but with your feet turned outwards, like an awkward ballerina. Then, squat down, and when you come up, add in a hop, keeping your feet turned outwards. Keep jumping as much as you can without stopping. You should feel the burn on your inner thighs pretty fast.
6. Donkey Kicks
These might sound like a weird sex move, but they’re actually an amazing toning move that targets the muscles in your thighs and butt, so stop being so skeptical and start kicking. Start on your hands and knees with one leg straight out behind you with your knee at a ninety-degree angle. Press your leg straight up, and alternate sides. Once you do regular reps on each side a few times, pulse the leg upwards for 10-20 seconds. If your shoulders get tired from being on your hands, switch to your forearms and/or do some fucking arm workouts and stop being such a weakling.
7. Star Jumps
The star jump is a cardio move, which means you’ll be ending this workout by jumping and sweating. Don’t cry yet. The idea is to get your heart rate up while working your butt and your inner thighs at the same time. Start in a narrow squat with your feet together and hands in front of you. Then, explode up into a high star-shaped jump, separating your legs and arms in the air and then bringing them back together as you land in that same narrow squat. Make sure to actually separate your legs while your jumping, or else you’re defeating the purpose of the move. Good luck walking up the stairs tomorrow.