Health contributing editor Petra Kolber says there's plenty of time to tone your figure so you look stunning in a swimsuit. On The Saturday Early Show, she demonstrated several moves designed to tone and tighten the abs, glutes and thighs, plus build shoulders and back muscles to make the waist look smaller.
She says the exercises work best when combined with cardio workouts and a healthy diet.
You can do hundreds of crunches and not feel the burn that comes with only 30 seconds of this exercise. It's tough because it targets the "transverse abs," a muscle group typically missed when trying to tone tummies. While crunches will give a nice six-pack, Kolber's exercise aims to tame the "pooch" that looks particularly bad when wearing a bikini. The transverse abs are like an inner waist band, they wrap around the body.
Basically, you want to get into a push-up position. But instead of resting on the palms of your hands, lower yourself onto your forearms. Your body will be just a few inches off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, then lower yourself to the ground. If you want to make the exercise more difficult, lift up one leg.
Before you even try to target your glutes, you need to stretch your hip flexor. Most people probably don't realize that the hip flexor works opposite the glutes. This main muscle in the hip area is very tight as a result of sitting all day long. When the muscle is tight, you can't really work your glutes effectively, because you don't have full range of motion in your leg. To stretch the hip flexor, move into a standing lunge position and push the back hip forward. You should feel the stretch immediately, Kolber says.
Now you're ready to work those glutes. Lie on your back with knees bent. Draw your right knee into your chest; hold. Contract the glutes and lift your hips off the floor, hold and then release to the floor. Holding the knee to your chest is essential because it stops your back from participating in the exercise, thus totally focusing on your glutes.
For many people, toning the inner and outer thighs means sitting at weight machines and pushing weights with the thighs. There's nothing wrong with this; however, you rarely use thigh muscles when seated. Instead, you use them when playing tennis or walking uphill.
Kolber suggests doing exercises for this area instead of using machines at a gym, because you work the thigh while standing, which more closely mimics the manner that the muscles are used.
This move requires rubber tubing, which can be purchased at any fitness store. Stand on the tubing, securing it under your feet. Your feet should be hip distance apart. Hold your arms straight out from the shoulder. Squat down and as you return to standing position, extend one leg gently to the side. Pause and lower back into the squat.
This is somewhat of a smoke and mirrors trick: the more developed your shoulders become, the smaller your waist appears. You will need dumbbells for this exercise. The amount of weight will vary based on your fitness level. Remember, if you really want to strengthen your muscles when using weights, you need to push yourself. Your muscles should be tired by the time you reach the eighth or ninth repetition.
Stand on your right leg with your left leg lightly touching the ground behind you. Holding a dumbbell in your left hand, lift your arm up to shoulder height and then lower to starting position. This exercise also tones your inner thighs and abs.
A defined back helps make your waist look smaller. You will need the tubing that you used for the thigh exercise. Hold the tubing in both hands and raise arms overhead. Hold left arm still. Contract the lats and lower the right arm. Hold and return to starting position.