Get the awesome abs, sexy arms, and flab-free physique you've been working on with plateau-busting fitness tips from Shape that'll get you into a bikini — stat.
You're already working hard so you can enjoy your favorite little indulgences (hello, happy hour!). But if you want to step it up for bikini season, tweaking your routine without going overboard can be mind-boggling (how many more miles could you possibly log?!). That's why we asked top fitness pros for tried-and-true tricks to amp up your workout. Read on to drop a few pounds, tone up trouble areas, and ultimately, feel like a rock star in your swimsuit.
Sculpt Tank-Top-Ready Arms
"I'm a big believer in 'old-fashioned' strength training," says Debora Warner, founder and program director of the Mile High Run Club, a NYC-based studio that teaches treadmill classes and endurance-based strength training for runners. If you're a runner, add strength training using high weight and low reps two to three times a week to your cardio routine to build lean muscle mass that will help you burn more calories, she explains. "It's sexy to have muscles and a firmed, toned body at the beach," she says, and we couldn't agree more — which is why you'll find us in the weight room through Memorial Day weekend. (Try our Heavy Weight Workout to get started!)
Get Your Abs in Gear
Let's face it: when it comes to Summer, our biggest body concern is whether our abs are bikini-ready. But skip the crunches, suggest Jillian Lorenz and Ariana Chernin, cofounders of The Barre Code. Instead, try their go-to move for OMG-worthy abs: hold a 30-second plank each morning when you wake up and each night before you go to bed, adding 15- or 30-second increments each week. By the end of the month, you'll notice a stronger, tighter core. "As you hold an active position, like a plank, begin to visualize your body getting lighter, tighter, and stronger with each second that passes, developing a visual mind-body connection throughout the hold," the cofounders suggest. The move becomes twofold — in addition to more definition, you'll have a more Zen approach to how you look in that bikini when you finally hit the beach.
Treat Yourself — on the Inside
Forget spray tans and new bikinis — now is the time to treat yourself from the inside out, rather than the outside in. Bouncing from yoga to boot camp or barre is great, because you're working different muscle groups, but all that exercise can also lead to lactic acid buildup. "People think they're taking care of their bodies physically, but they forget about the internal things," says Natalie Uhling, Radius Fitness master trainer. "A sports or deep-tissue massage can help break down muscle tissue. You can't perform at your best and really get the most out of workouts if you're sore from lactic acid builtup." If you can't swing regular sports massages, foam rolling can also help soothe sore muscles. (Try these 4 Foam Roller Exercises to Burn Fat and Reduce Cellulite.)
Add Some Spring to Your Step
Your energy levels naturally increase in the springtime with the increase in daylight, so channel that extra vigor into a more intense, high-energy workout, suggests Grace Menendez, a trainer at Crunch Gym in NYC. Plyometrics, or jump training, will give you more bang for your buck by adding an aerobic element to your strength training, thereby increasing your speed and power, she says. The goal is to exert maximum force in short intervals of time, so combine a few plyometric drills (like box jumps or kettlebell swings) with weight lifting or bodyweight exercises for double the benefits. (Get started now with this Plyometric Power Plan.)
Break Out of Your Workout Routine
Sticking with just one workout won't get you the body you want by Summer. Cross-training is important to help build lean muscle and increase endurance for cardio activities, says Alex Isaly, Radius Fitness master trainer. That doesn't mean logging extra hours at the gym, though. Work three or four quick workouts that combine core work, agility training, stretching, and moves using five- to eight-pound dumbbells into your existing weekly routine to tone up all over, shrinking spots you'll want to show off in summery styles like backless dresses and short shorts. (Exhale's Core Fusion Extreme Workout blends it all together.)
Don't Just Show Up
Yes, showing up to your workout is half the battle, but tuning in to your body is just as important, says Jackie Dragone, director of FLEX Barre at FLEX Studios. If your mind is elsewhere (like dreaming of white sandy beaches), you're probably not putting 100 percent into each exercise. Relish how sick you'll look this Summer after class is done, but keep your brain on short-term goals during your workout. "Focusing on your breathing and connecting your breath to your movement is the easiest way to make sure you are getting the most out of class," says Dragone. This mental engagement adds another element to your workout — and ensures you're not taking a break when you don't really need it!