52 Exercises and 5 Workouts For Every Wedding Dress Style
If your goal is to look and feel your best before your final wedding dress fitting, you've come to the right place. Choosing the right gown for your body type isn't always the easiest task, but there are exercises that can accentuate and tone what you've already got to help you feel most confident on your big day. So whether you're planning to wear a gown with a plunging neckline or a mermaid-style dress that highlights your hourglass figure, check out the 52 exercises and five workouts ahead that strengthen and shape by style.
Backless/Strapless Dress: Plank With Rows
- Step 1: Start in a plank position with each hand gripping a dumbbell.
- Step 2: Pull the right dumbbell up to your chest with your elbows tucked close to your body.
- Step 3: Lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position and repeat with the lefthand dumbbell.
Upper Back Lifts on a Swiss Ball
- Step 1: Lay face down on a ball with your legs extended behind you.
- Step 2: Bend your elbows and place your hands behind your head as if you're doing a sit-up.
- Step 3: Slowly raise your chest off the ball a few inches and then lower yourself back down again.
Overhead Shoulder Press
- Grab a pair of dumbbells.
- Hold them at shoulder height, palms facing each other.
- Press straight up toward the ceiling.
- Bend your elbows as you lower back into starting position.
- Step 1: Hold a dumbbell in each hand, by your sides, with straight arms and have a slight bend in your knees.
- Step 2: Lower the dumbbells towards the floor. Keep your back straight, not curved or arched. Your chest should be parallel with the floor.
- Step 3: Straighten up your torso so you have a straight body alignment.
- Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
- Keeping your arms and legs straight (but not locked) and torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form an elongated "u" shape with your body — back arches and arms and legs lift several inches off the floor.
- Hold for two to five seconds and lower back down to complete one.
- Do one set of 12.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Let the dumbbells rest in front of you on your thighs with your palms facing inward (toward your thighs).
- Begin raising the dumbbells up to your shoulders. Your elbows will bend out to the sides. Keep the weights close to your body throughout the movement.
- Slowly lower the weights back down to starting position.
- Lie face up on a flat bench or mat with your dumbbells in hand.
- Begin with your arms straight up in the air keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
- Only bending at the elbows, lower the weights down toward the sides of your head. The weights will end up close to your ears.
- Press the weights back up to starting position.
- With a pair of dumbbells and your feet hip-width distance apart, bend at the waist. Keep your back parallel to the floor with a neutral spine — not rounded.
- With a slight bend in your knees, hold your arms and the dumbbells extended out in front of you.
- Engage your abs and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring the weights to your torso. Be sure to keep your elbows in and pointed upward.
- Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position to complete one rep. Do one set of 12 reps.
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with knees slightly bent. Keeping your back flat, bend forward at the hip joint.
- Exhale and lift both arms to the side, maintaining a slight bend in the elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Then with control, lower the dumbbells back toward the ground.
- Do one set of 12 reps.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, dumbbells in hand. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward with your upper body at about a 45-degree angle.
- Bend your elbows behind you so that they are in line with your back.
- Extend your right arm straight out in front of you and while simultaneously extending your left arm straight behind you. Rotate your right wrist so your front palm is facing down. Rotate your back wrist so your palm faces upward.
- Slowly return to starting position and repeat the movement on the opposite side. Once you've done each side once, you've completed one repetition.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells.
- Hold them with your palms facing out and your arms fully extended in front of you.
- Bend at the elbow and curl the dumbbells all the way up to your shoulders keeping your wrists straight throughout the movement.
- Slowly lower the weights all the way down to starting position.
Two-Piece Gown: Twisting Mountain Climbers
Get ready to obliterate your obliques with the ultimate core move. Mountain climbers are especially great because they provide intense cardio also. Start in plank position and prepare to burn some major calories.
- Engage your core.
- Explosively bring your right knee up toward your left elbow while twisting your obliques.
- As soon as you return your right foot to the floor, explode with your left leg, pushing your left knee toward your right shoulder. The movement and transitions should be fluid, without pauses, in this exercise.
- Aim to complete 10 reps on each side for a total of 20 reps. Rest and then do one or two more sets.
An effective way to carve and strengthen your deep front and side muscles is side planks. Fire up your obliques and arms at the same time.
- Come into a plank position (the top of a push-up) and roll to your left side, allowing your feet to roll too, so you're balancing on the outside of your left foot and the inside of your right. To advance this move, stack your right foot on top of your left.
- Reach your right arm toward the ceiling and lift your waist away from the floor to make your obliques fire away. Press your left inner thigh up into your right inner thigh; this helps stabilize you even more.
- To take pressure off of your wrist, press your left fingertips into the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds, working toward a full minute. To complete a set, repeat on the other side. Do three sets.
Ball Pike to Plank
This killer move focuses on your lower abs as the bottom half of your body is in full control of the ball. First things first: make sure the ball is sized to your body; you should be able to sit on the ball with 90-degree angles at your hips and knees. If you don't have an exercise ball, use two sliders or paper plates on carpet to slide up to pike position.
- Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your shins on the ball.
- Do not allow your lower back to arch. Keep your feet, pelvis, and shoulders in one long line.
- On an exhale, pull your abs deeply to your spine and use your abs to fold your body in half, pulling the ball forward toward your hands as your pelvis moves up in the air.
- Your toes will move onto the top of the ball, and your back will become perpendicular to the floor, like a handstand. Allow your head to fall between your arms, keeping your neck long and in line with your spine.
- Lower yourself back into a plank position, and do not allow your pelvis to sag below your shoulders.
- Do 10 reps for two to three sets.
Hanging Leg Raises
Master this move and you'll have those lower abs showing in no time.
- Start by hanging on a pull-up bar with palms facing out, or use the ab straps and hang with your arms inside of them. Do use a box or bench if you need help reaching the bar.
- Pull your shoulder blades down your back to keep your shoulders away from your ears.
- Engage your abs as you fully extend both legs, lifting them up simultaneously with control.
- Lower the legs down slowly and return to the starting position. This completes one rep.
- Avoid swinging during this move to ensure that you're really working your abs.
- Do two sets of 10 reps.
Add weights to Russian twists to blast your front ab muscles, transverse ab muscles, lower back, and obliques.
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your butt.
- Slowly recline backward until you feel your lower abs engage. It is really important, and difficult, to keep your back straight, but don't let it curve.
- Place your arms out in front of you with your hands one on top of the other. Your hands should be level with the bottom of your ribcage.
- Pull your navel to your spine and twist slowly to the right. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through center and rotate to the left. This completes one rep.
- Do 16 full rotations to complete a set.
Achieving a flatter midsection isn't possible with a weak upper body. Lats are the biggest muscle in the upper half, so strengthening this area will help you burn more above the waist. Lat pull-downs are also a good one to add.
- Securely set the pin on the desired weight.
- Stand on the side platforms and hold on to the outer handles. Lift one knee and place it on the padded knee rest. Tightly hold on to the handles as you place your second knee onto the knee rest, and be prepared to hold yourself up (with the assistance of the counterweight). Keep your abs engaged, spine neutral, and shoulders pressed down and back.
- Pull yourself up as far as possible, making sure to keep your abs engaged and your shoulders pressed down and back. Slowly release down until your arms are almost straight.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times. When getting off of the machine, be sure to pull yourself all the way to the top first. Keeping your arms engaged, slowly lift one knee and lower it to the side platform, then the other.
Double Leg Lifts
On top of working your abs and obliques, this move also doubles as a great thigh toner. If hanging leg raises are too advanced for you, try this floor variation instead.
- Lie flat on the ground with your legs extended straight up toward the ceiling. Place your hands underneath the back of your head. For added stability, place your arms out to your side, allowing the palms to grip the floor (much like you would in a push-up position).
- Pressing your lower back into the ground, slowly lower both legs down toward the floor, then slowly raise them back up. If this is too difficult, lower them as much as you can or lower one leg at a time.
- Complete 10 to 15 reps.
This exercise works your core, shoulders, back, traps, and arms, all while helping you build muscular endurance. Bonus: your heart rate will stay elevated, which means you're torching calories.
- Get a good grip on the sledgehammer or dumbbell.
- Your hands should be stacked one on top of the other at the bottom of the handle.
- Bend your elbows and bring the sledgehammer up and over your shoulder, similar to how you'd hold a baseball bat.
- Using as much force as you can, bring the hammer down on the tire. Hold on tight because it will bounce when it strikes the rubber.
- Begin with 15 to 25 swings on one side. Then alternate your hand position and the side with which you bring the hammer over your shoulder for another 20 to 30 swings. Rest after you've worked both sides. Then complete one or two more rounds.
- Begin in a side elbow plank, with your left elbow down and your right hand behind your head.
- Keeping your torso stable and your waist lifted, bring your right leg up toward your shoulder to lightly tap your right elbow.
- Lengthen your right leg back to the starting position to complete one rep.
Twisted Bird Dog
- Get on all fours, with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Remember to keep abs engaged and keep your back flat.
- As you extend your right leg out straight, open up your left shoulder for an oblique and back twist.
- Round your back and head to connect your left elbow with your right leg under your body. Extend right hand and left leg back out for one complete rep.
Push-Up and Rotate
- Begin in a plank position with your feet in line with your hips and your hands each holding a dumbbell.
- Lower your body toward the floor, then push through your arms, returning to plank.
- Twist to the left, reaching your left arm, dumbbell in hand, to the ceiling without letting your pelvis raise or lower.
- Return to plank position, bringing your hand back to the floor. Complete another push-up and twist to the right.
Standing Wood Chop With Med Ball
- Start with the feet a little wider than hip distance apart, keeping the knees slightly bent, and bring the medicine ball to your left shoulder.
- On an exhale, pull your abs to the spine, and "chop" the ball down diagonally across your body toward your right knee. Imagine you're chopping some wood at this angle and the ball is your axe — the move is a bit percussive.
- Focus on the rotation initiating in your torso.
- Control the ball back up to the starting position. This completes one rep.
- Remember you are moving with force but control. Don't give in to the momentum of swinging the ball around.
Mini Dress: Weighted Walking Lunges
To complete weighted lunges, you can hold dumbbells in your hands down by your sides or use a barbell held across the back of your neck and shoulders. "Using weights will speed up your results. I recommend using weights for lunges if you have mastered bodyweight walking lunges," Chadwell said.
- Find a long, straight pathway in your gym.
- Stand upright, with your feet together.
- Begin the move by taking a step forward with your right leg.
- While keeping your upper body upright and straight, lower your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to a nearly 90-degree angle. Your back knee will come close to the floor, but it should not touch it. Your front knee should be in line with your first two toes but never pass them, and the back knee should be pointing toward the floor.
- Next, push off with your left foot. Bring it back to the original starting position. This completes one rep.
- Next, step forward with your right foot and repeat the above steps.
- Alternate your steps for a total of 20 reps per set.
Toned calves combined with Summer wedges complete the sexy look you're wanting for your legs. Don't leave the gym without working your calves, too. To make these harder, Chadwell suggests completing calf raises while holding dumbbells or by putting a plate on the floor and "hanging 10," thus using the plate as a platform for the exercise. Or you can do both!
- Position your feet approximately hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips.
- Slowly raise up on your toes until your heels raise off the ground. Pause and hold for one to two seconds.
- Then slowly lower your heels back down to the ground.
- Complete two sets of 20-25 repetitions.
Weighted Sumo Squats
Wake up your inner thighs with this squat variation! Chadwell said, "To add a a little extra calf work, rise up on your toes as you are returning to the starting position and hold for a two-count before placing your feet flat on the floor again. Then begin the next repetition. This move will require excellent balance."
- Stand with your feet wide, pointing your toes out toward the corners of the room (approximately a 45-degree angle) while holding a pair of dumbbells in front of your chest. Or you can use one heavy dumbbell held with both hands directly in front of your hips. Experiment to see which way offers you better balance.
- Bend your knees and begin lowering your hips down toward the floor. At the end of the movement, your thighs will be parallel with the floor. Keep your torso straight throughout the movement, and keep your weight in your heels.
- Begin moving back to starting position by straightening your legs. Squeeze your glutes when you reach the starting position.
- Complete three sets of 10-15 repetitions.
- Stand with your feet wide, toes pointing out. Hold your hands comfortably in front of your chest.
- Bend your knees, lowering your hips so your thighs are almost parallel with the floor. Keep your weight back in your heels and your knees tracking in line with feet.
- Then rise back up, straightening the legs completely and squeezing the glutes at the top of the movement. This counts as one rep.
- Do two or three sets of 15 reps.
Forward Backward Lunge
- Stand with the feet together.
- Put weight on the left foot, lift your right knee up, and step into a forward lunge. The front knee should be at a 90-degree angle with the left knee just barely hovering above the ground.
- Push into your right heel, come to stand, and immediately step the right foot behind you into a reverse lunge with the left knee at a 90-degree angle.
- This counts as one rep.
- Do two or three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
Elevated Split Squat
- Begin by placing the top of your right foot on the bench with your left leg straight. Bend your left knee, engage your right glute and lower your pelvis toward the ground. You want your left foot out far enough so that when you lower your hips, your knee stays directly over your ankle.
- Straighten your left leg and rise back up to the starting position. This counts as one rep.
- Do two or three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
- Begin in an athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart and arms bent with hands at chest level. Bend knees and come into a full squat.
- Jump up as explosively as you can, reaching for the ceiling.
- When you land, lower back into the squat position to complete one rep.
- Do two or three sets of 15 reps.
Alternating Side Lunge
- Start with your feet directly under your hips. Step your right foot wide to the side, coming into a lunge with your left fingers touching your right foot. Your right knee shouldn't go beyond your right toes. Keep your chest lifted and your weight in your heels.
- Push into your right foot to return to standing, then lunge sideways to the left to complete one rep.
- Keep going from side to side for 20 seconds. Then take a 10-second rest. Do this two more times.
Single-Leg Bridge Lift
- Lie on your back and place your hands on the floor for stability as you bend one leg and lift the other leg off the ground.
- Then, pressing your heel into the floor, lift your pelvis up, keeping your body in a stiff bridge position.
- Slowly lower your body to the floor and repeat. Switch legs to complete one rep.
- Do two or three sets of 10 reps.
Plunging V-Neck: Lying Chest Fly
Working with your feet off the ground in a tabletop position means your abs are working too. If holding your legs up hurts your lower back, bring your feet down to the mat.
- Lie on your back with your hips and knees both at 90-degree angles. Using your low abs, press your lower back into the mat. Raise your arms toward the ceiling, palms facing each other, keeping the elbow joint slightly bent.
- Keeping your torso stable, open your arms out to the sides until your elbows are about two inches from the floor.
- Raise your arms back to the ceiling, bringing the weights together over your chest. This counts as one rep.
Bridge With Chest Press
We love this multitasking move! Holding the bridge works your butt and hamstrings while the chest press strengthens the pecs. If you're a beginner, feel free to skip the bridge and keep your back flat on the mat.
- Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip distance apart, holding weights by your chest.
- Squeeze your glutes as you push your pelvis toward the ceiling, coming into a bridge. Keep your ribs aligned with your pelvis.
- Holding the bridge, press the weights to the ceiling directly above your shoulders for a total of 10 to 12 reps to complete one full set.
The asymmetrical push-up forces you to work one side of your upper body more — chest included. This variation is great for increasing the work on the pecs one at a time.
- Begin in a plank, then lower your left elbow to the ground, with your forearm crossing under your chest. From this position, bend your right elbow, lowering your body to the mat. Use your abs to keep your torso in one piece as you come to the floor.
- Exhale as you straighten your right elbow to return to the starting position. This completes one rep. Be sure to do the same number of reps on each side.
Lateral Plank Walk
- Begin in plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your body in one straight line.
- Simultaneously cross your right hand toward the left as you step your left foot out to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left, returning to the plank position. Your hands move together as your feet step apart. Take two more steps in this direction, keeping your abs pulled toward your spine and your pelvis level. This completes one rep.
- Reverse directions, taking three steps the right for your second rep.
Moving between plank and elbow plank keeps the pecs under constant tension, making this move effective for toning and strengthening your chest.
- Begin in a full plank. Lower your right elbow to the mat and then your left, coming into an elbow plank.
- Put your right hand on the mat, and straighten your right elbow. Do the same on the left to return to a full plank.
Side-to-Side BOSU Push-Ups
The BOSU adds an element of instability, which always increases the difficulty of an exercise, and moving laterally over the BOSU works the pecs and shoulders nicely.
- Place a BOSU on the floor, flat side down. Come into plank position with both hands on top of the BOSU.
- Step the left hand onto the floor and lower into a push-up. As you straighten your arms, bring your left hand back onto the BOSU.
- Repeat on the other side placing the right hand onto the floor as you lower into a push-up; return the right hand onto BOSU while straightening your arms.
- This counts as one rep. Complete two sets of 10.
V-Sit With Single-Arm Chest Fly
- Begin sitting with your heels planted about two feet from your butt, holding the weights at chest level with a slight bend in your elbows. Lean back a few inches, pulling your abs toward your spine to keep your spine long and straight.
- The left arm remains still as you open your right arm to the side, making sure the weight doesn't go beyond your shoulder.
- Bring your right arm back to center to complete one rep.
- Do 10 to 20 reps.
Bent-Over Reverse Fly
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand with your closed palms facing out, stand with the knees slightly bent. Keep your back flat and bend forward at the hip joint.
- Lift both arms to the sides, maintaining a slight bend in the elbows, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Then, with control, lower the dumbbells back together.
- This completes one rep.
- Do 10 to 20 reps.
- Bonus: this exercise strengthens your upper back to improve your posture.
A-Line/Mermaid Gown: Donkey Kick Pulses Series
Reps: 30 pulses leg in parallel, 30 with knee out
- Begin on all fours and lift your right leg off the floor until your knee is in line with your hip.
- Flex your foot and squeeze your glute to raise your heel an inch toward the ceiling. Continue these small, concentrated pulses for 30 reps.
- Open your right knee out to the side, keeping your foot flexed, and pulse your leg one inch to the left. You are not trying to lift the knee up, but try to keep it level as it moves behind you. You should feel your glutes firing away for all 30 pulses.
- Repeat on the other side to complete a set.
Isolate the glutes from a couple of angles in this quick butt-sculpting series on all fours.
Single-Leg Deadlift With Kettlebell
- Hold a kettlebell (between 10 and 20 pounds) in your right hand, and lift your left foot slightly off the ground.
- Keeping your back neutral, lean your entire torso forward while raising your left leg, which should stay in line with your body. The kettlebell will lower toward the ground. Keep your left shoulder blade pulled down your back.
- With your back straight, return upright, coming to your starting position. This completes one repetition. Maximize this move by keeping your right foot off the ground as you go through your repetitions.
Plank With Leg Lift
- Lie with an exercise ball under your belly and walk your hands out until the ball is under your shins. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders.
- Draw your navel toward your spine to engage your abs and stabilize your torso.
- Lift your left leg up, squeezing your glute, then slowly lower your leg back onto the ball. Switch sides and lift the right leg keeping your pelvis square. This counts as one repetition.
Bulgarian Split Squat
- Grab a pair of 10-pound dumbbells. Begin by placing the toes of your left foot on a bench, box, stair, or chair, with your right leg straight.
- Make sure your right foot is out far enough so that when you lower your hips, your knee stays directly over your ankle.
- Bend your right knee, squeeze your left glute, and lower your pelvis toward the ground.
- Press your right heel into the ground to straighten your right knee. This completes one repetition.
Dumbbell Sumo Squats
- Stand with your feet wide, toes pointing out, holding both dumbbells in front of your chest.
- Bend your knees, lowering your hips deeply, so that your thighs are parallel with the floor. Make sure to keep your weight back in your heels.
- Rise back up, straightening your legs completely and squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement to get the most from the exercise.
- This completes one repetition.
Lunges on a Ball
- Place the top of your left foot on the ball. Keep your right knee soft — do not lock your standing knee.
- Reach your arms forward at shoulder height. If balancing in this position is too challenging, open your arms out to the sides. Inhale to prepare.
- Exhale and actively pull your deep abs toward your spine. Bend your right knee, engage your right glute, and lunge. The ball will move back and your shin will move to top of the ball. Make sure your right knee doesn't move beyond your toes.
- Inhale to straighten your front leg. This completes one repetition.
Superman Ball Lifts
This is a butt-challenging variation on your standard Superman.
- Lie on your belly, holding an exercise ball between your feet.
- Engage your abs and extend your arms straight out in front of you.
- As you inhale, squeeze the ball and lift your knees, arms, and chest off the floor. Hold for a count of 10, and then slowly release your body back to the floor. This completes one repetition.
Weighted Donkey Kick
- Start on all fours, and place a dumbbell in the crease of your right knee.
- Keeping your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your back straight, lift your right leg up until you feel your right glute engage. Flex your foot, and slowly pulse the foot toward the ceiling by squeezing your glute. Do not move the torso at all — the motion is just in the hip joint.
- This completes one repetition.
- Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width and with your toes pointed slightly out. Hold your dumbbell at chest level with both hands. Keeping your back flat, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your elbows touch your knees.
- With your weight focused on your heels, push yourself up to the starting position.
- This completes one repetition.
Side Lunge to Curtsy
- Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, side lunge to the left, bringing your right hand to your left foot. Lower your booty as much as possible. Keep your toes pointed forward and your left knee bent to no more than 90 degrees.
- Push off gently with your left foot, and come into a curtsy position with your left leg crossing behind your left as you press your weight overhead. Keep your hips square and your curtsy tight. Both feet should be pointed forward. This completes one repetition.
- Repeat by stepping immediately into a side lunge from the curtsy.
Banded Booty Kicks
- Hold on to either end of your resistance band, and place the center of the band around the sole of your left foot. Place your elbows and knees on the ground so your back is straight.
- Hold the band firmly, draw your belly in, and extend your left leg straight behind you. Then draw your knee forward, but don't let it touch the ground.
- This completes one repetition.
- Stand holding a pair of medium-weight dumbbells in each hand, arms at your sides, with your knees slightly bent.
- Keeping your arms straight and knees slightly bent, slowly bend at your hip joint, not your waist, and lower the weights as far as possible, keeping the back straight. Keep the weights close to, almost touching, your legs.
- Squeeze your glutes to slowly pull yourself up, completing one rep.
- Do as many deadlifts as you can for 30 seconds.