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Drop that froyo and slim down this summer: Tips for toning

Posted by Alex Pearlman  June 2, 2012 09:48 AM

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bikini.JPGBy Jenna Van Dam

As much as we may try to deny it, bikini season is in full swing. Yikes! But not to fear, if you stick to this simple workout plan, you’ll be looking toned and feeling confident when it’s time to step out in your favorite two-piece.  Try to do these strength exercises three nonconsecutive days a week, along with five days of cardio. Don’t forget to leave yourself a day to rest and recover!

Part 1: Muscle Toning

These moves target your summer trouble spots: legs, butt and abdominals. If you think your arms need a bit of work, as well, Jen Ator – Women’s Health Magazine’s Senior Fitness Editor – has a great upper body workout that will leave your arms sleek and sculpted. These workouts are perfect for your living room, too, so don't worry about paying expensive gym fees.

  1. Reverse Lunge Kicks:

With your hands on your hips and abs pulled in, take a large step back with your left foot and sink into a reverse lunge, so that both of your knees are at 90-degree angles. Push off your left foot and kick it out in front of you until it’s level with your hips. Then swing your leg back and return to the original lunge position. Do three sets of ten on each side and get ready to feel the burn in your thighs!

  1. Kneeling Kick Backs:

Get on all fours with your hands and knees on the ground and your back parallel to the floor. Lift your left leg back, maintaining that right angle in the knee, and push your heel to the ceiling. Hold it there for a second or two with your glutes contracted before bringing your leg back down.  If you want a challenge, you can also try using ankle weights. Do two sets of 12 on each leg.

  1. Side Squats:

Start standing straight up with your feet together and then step to the left into a squat. Your hips should be even with your knees and your upper torso should be as straight and upright as possible. Return to the center position, but only come up halfway so that your knees are still a bit bent. Then, immediately step out with your right leg into a squat position. This is one rep, do 15 to target those pesky inner thighs!

  1. Bicycle Crunches:

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and both your feet and shoulders lifted slightly off the ground. Twisting your torso, bring your right elbow to your left knee and then switch sides, bringing your left elbow to your right knee to finish the rep. These can be tricky at first, so start with 20 reps, but challenge yourself to do more as your abs get stronger.

  1. V Sit-Up:

Sit on the floor with your hands slightly behind you and facing in towards your body. Start with your knees bent and your feet off the floor. Lean back on your arms, tap your toes on the ground, and then bring your legs back towards your chest.  If you feel comfortable, try bringing your arms up to the side to add a balance element into the exercise. Repeat 20 times and this move will tone not only your upper, but also those hard-to-reach lower abs!

  1. Planks:

Lie on your stomach with your legs extended, feet together, and forearms shoulder-width apart on the floor. Pull your abs in and lift your hips so that your body forms a straight line all the way from your head to your heels. Make sure to not allow your hips or chest drop at all – that’s cheating! Other variations of this basic move include the side plank and lifted leg plank. Planks are killer, but arguably one of the most effective full-body exercises, so push through the pain for 60 seconds!

Part 2: Cardio

Five days a week, you should also be doing cardio for 30-45 minutes. It’s a great way to burn fat, revealing your newly toned muscles! The Boston area has some beautiful running trails you can take advantage of and I suggest creating a cardio playlist with your favorite pump-up songs to motivate you to keep going when you start to feel drained. One of the fastest ways to blast extra fat is interval training, which alternates bursts of high and low intensity activity. If running isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other ways to get in some aerobic exercise, such as swimming, bicycling, or playing tennis. Switching up your routine will keep you from getting bored!

One last note: don’t ruin all of your hard work by pigging out on frozen yogurt (guilty!) and other warm-weather treats. Incorporating the right foods into your daily diet can make all of the difference in helping you achieve a fit, fabulous and - most importantly - healthy body this summer!

What tips do you have for getting ready for bikini season? Leave a comment and let us know!

Photo by Fitbie

About Jenna: I am a marketing major at Bentley University who is interested in social media and PR. I grew up in a beach town in Maine, but have had a serious case of wanderlust since studying abroad in London during the Fall of my junior year. Give me a striped shirt, sparkly ballet flats and an iced coffee, and I’ll be a happy camper.

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