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Total-Body Workouts for Women

Workout: Get Wedding-Dress Ready

Every bride deserves a confident waltz down the aisle, so here's how to make every workout leading up to the big day count.

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You’ve accepted a proposal, and now it’s time to begin planning the big day. Your head is swimming with all the details you need to tackle, so you begin compiling a list to help stay organized — choosing the date, narrowing down the guest list, selecting the bridal party, picking the perfect venue, interviewing photographers, bands and DJs, florists, bakers and caterers, sending invitations, choosing the dress of your dreams … wait! The dress!

If you’ve been picturing yourself in a gorgeous wedding gown since you were a little girl, chances are you know exactly what silhouette you want to rock down the runway, err, aisle. And as Kate Hudson’s character said in the movie Bride Wars: “You don’t alter Vera Wang to fit you, you alter yourself to fit Vera.”

“There are so many added stressors when planning a wedding that physical activity and nutrition can become secondary concerns to many brides,” says Arnit Kobryniec, a certified personal trainer in South Florida who has a master’s degree in psychology, specializing in eating habits and behaviors. “On the other hand, the pressure of looking perfect may cause some brides to turn to the extreme, losing weight too fast with strict dieting. This is why a properly planned wedding regimen is necessary as the big day approaches.”

The Countdown Begins

Because most wedding-gown boutiques and designers require a rough six-month lead time to order your dress, you’ll likely find yourself in the position of needing to order your dress long before you’ve sculpted the toned arms and trim waist you plan on achieving in time for your wedding day. Thankfully, it’s easier to take a dress in than out, so it’s wise to buy a dress that fits now and adjust as you reach your goals.

Kobryniec, who is a bride-to-be herself, shares a timeline to help keep you on track for the final dress fitting you’ve been dreaming of:

12 to nine months:

  • Set big and small goals. The small goals should be attainable, monthly checkpoints to help keep you focused on the ultimate big goal. Why? When we experience even small amounts of success, our brains release dopamine, which leads to pleasure and motivation. For planning purposes, a healthy weight-loss pace is about 4 to 8 pounds a month. Don’t forget that you can lose inches before you lose weight — and losing body fat while gaining muscle will certainly shrink down your waistline.
  • Make a plan. If you’ve already purchased a dress, use that as your goal setter. If it’s an open back dress, then you should target your lats as you get closer to the date. If it’s a strapless, add extra delt movements. Knowing what you’re working with will help you reach results more quickly.
  • Identify your obstacles. There’s no sense in pretending they don’t exist, so outline your trigger foods. What are those sweets or salty calories you’ll need to cut out in the coming year? What excuses do you find yourself always using for skipping the gym? Write them down, then write out your solutions around them to help hold yourself accountable.

Eight to six months:

  • Create a visual planner. Your schedule will get crazy as the big day approaches. Write everything down in your calendar, including your appointments with wedding vendors and also your workouts. If you set time aside for the gym, you are more likely to follow through.
  • Journal your meals. Take a look at what you’re eating. Start implementing more green juices and fruits into your diet, if you haven’t already done so.

Five to three months:

  • Kick it up a notch. Add an additional training day each week so your goals become easier to attain. Not sure of what to do on that extra day? Try these four moves for killer arms. Not reaching your goals quickly enough? It’s time to enlist the help of a personal trainer or coach to learn additional movements or pointers.
  • Continue to journal. Take a look back at your first few entries. What have you not yet achieved? Refocus and tackle those outstanding goals.
  • Revisit your meal program. If you are lifting more, make sure you are eating more — but also eating clean. To reach that toned look, you’ve got to lift weights, and to have the energy to lift, you’ve got to fuel your body. Pay attention to your macros, and increase your carbohydrate and fat intake (as long as you are adding training days or increasing your weights to compensate for it).

Two to one month:

  • Dress fitting. Allow this time to be your last big sprint before the finish line. If you need to lose another 5 pounds, make sure you take a look at your visual planner and see what you can do to lose those last few inches in a healthy manner.
  • Stay vigilant with your healthy habits. Remember, treat your workouts and meal prepping like an appointment. If you find yourself stressing out, use the gym as your escape.
  • Add in planned cheats. Do not skip meals thinking it’ll help you look better in your dress. On the contrary, allow small cheat meals once a week so you don’t deprive yourself and go on a bender mere days before the wedding.

Three to one week:

  • Final dress fitting. If you didn’t reach your goal, it’s OK. Do not go crazy trying to lose the weight at this point or you’ll end up with a loose dress on the day of the wedding. Focus on toning any areas that are bothering you.

Less than one week:

  • You’re more than a number. Congratulations! You worked so hard, the last thing you want to worry about is the number on the scale. At the end of the day, that number pales in comparison to the confidence you’ll exude knowing you did your very best.
  • Eat, seriously. You aren’t going to gain crazy pounds in the next few days. Just go light on the liquor and salty foods, which can cause bloating.
  • Hydrate. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids and electrolytes because you have a lot to do in the next 72 hours — a lot of hugging, smiling and dancing!
  • Have the time of your life. Have fun and enjoy yourself. You are beautiful and your fiance’s jaw will drop when you walk down the aisle.

The Ultimate Bridal Workout

Looking for some quick workouts that can be done at home, in the gym or even in the hotel the week of the wedding? All you need is your bodyweight and a mini-band.

Day 1

Exercise Time
Squat Jump 30 seconds
Squat 15 seconds
Alternating Lunge Jump 30 seconds
Alternating Jump 15 seconds
Speedskater 30 seconds
Curtsy Lunge 15 seconds

Repeat three times.

With Mini-Band:

Exercise Reps
Squat to Deadlift 12
Hip Hinge 10
Hip Hinge Alternating Toe Tap 12
Alternating Donkey Kick 10

Repeat three times.

With Mini-Band:

Exercise Reps
Side Lateral Leg Lift (right) 12
Left Squat Shuffle (right) 10
Side Lateral Leg Lift (left) 12
Right Squat Shuffle (left) 10

Repeat three times.

Day 2

Workout can be done with bodyweight or weights.

Exercise Reps/Time
Alternating Plank Row 45 seconds
Breather 10 seconds
Alternating Plank Shoulder Press 45 seconds
Breather 10 seconds
Plank Shoulder Tap 45 seconds

Repeat three times.

With Mini-Band:

Exercise Time
Lying Overhead Lat Pull 45 seconds
Breather 15 seconds
Biceps Curl (right arm) 45 seconds
Breather 15 seconds
Band Row 45 seconds
Breather 15 seconds
Biceps Curl (left arm) 45 seconds
Breather 15 seconds

Repeat three times.

Day 3

Exercise Reps/Time
Power Push-Up 10
Push-Up Hold 15 seconds
Crossover Push-Up 10
Push-Up Hold 15 seconds

Repeat two times.

Exercise Reps/Time
Triceps Dip Toe tap 10
Triceps Push-Up 15 seconds
Alternating Single-Leg Triceps Dip 10
Triceps Push-Up 15 seconds
Finisher (band around wrist)
Plank Mini-Band Extension 30 seconds
Chest Mini-Band Flye Pump 30 seconds
Mini-Band Resistance Hold and Chest Press 30 seconds
Mini-Band Triceps Extension 30 seconds
Triceps Push-Up 15 seconds

Repeat two times.