Look better naked
By Martica Heaner, M.A., M.Ed., for MSN Healthy Living
If you're a pajama kind of woman longing to flash some flesh, we've got a plan that will get you uncovered and ready for lace—or nothing at all! This body-firming routine is designed to reach all the parts your clothing won't. But this is no average toning workout. We've added an extra fat blast: three-minute, calorie-burning cardio intervals between every strength move.
To expedite the transformation of your soon-to-be exposed areas, include at least 30 minutes of cardio work on days that you don't perform this routine. If you’re new to exercise, lower the intensity or duration of your workout accordingly. By coupling firming moves for your butt, abs, legs, arms, chest, back and shoulders with calorie-burning fat blasts, you’ll create sexy curves.
You’ll need weights and a stability ball. Start with dumbbells that are at least 5 to 8 pounds and gradually work up to using six to 20 pounds. Don’t use weights during the fat blasts. If needed, modify the high-impact movements, such as the jumps, and make them lower impact by performing the same movement without jumping. Move for three minutes (or less if you’re just starting) and try not to pause between exercises. Of course, if you feel tired or out of breath, slow down.
Start with one complete circuit: Perform each 3-minute Fat Blast, followed by eight to 12 repetitions of each firming move. Move quickly when performing each strength move, but don’t swing the weights—if you can swing them, your weight is too light. Once you've cycled through all six exercises, repeat the circuit for a total of two to three cycles. Do this workout two to three times a week on non-consecutive days.
Biceps Curl With Side Kick
Fat blast: March in place for three minutes.
Start: Start with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Hang your arms straight along the outside of your thighs, weights in each hand, palms facing each other. Lean your upper body slightly forward and push your hips back to lower your body into a squat position. Hold your body weight in your heels and keep your calves vertical, and your knees above your ankles, not toes.
Technique tip: Avoid letting the weights cause your shoulders to slump. Press your chest forward and flatten your shoulder blades close to your back.
Biceps Curl With Side Kick
Finish: As you squeeze your butt to stand, open your right leg straight to the side and balance on your left leg. At the same time lift the weights to your shoulders by bending your elbows, palms facing each other. Bring the elbows slightly in front of your torso. Balance, then lower your arms and foot to return to the squat position. Then repeat, alternating legs.
Common error: Raising the lifted leg too high
Fit fix: Avoid a postural slump caused by aiming for a high kick, rather than a controlled leg lift. Keep your lifting knee facing forward, rather than up, and raise your thigh to a 45-degree angle (or less), maintaining perfect posture as you do.
Fat blast: Alternate marching in place for 15 seconds followed by two jumps. Continue for three minutes.
Start: Hold a stability ball against a wall and press your back against it to hold it in place. Spread your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Walk your feet forward 2 or 3 feet away from your body as you lean into the ball.
Technique tip: Maintain good posture by holding your rib cage high and tightening your core muscles slightly.
Finish: Slide your back down the ball to lower your hips until they are at knee level and your upper back is pressing against the ball. Tighten your abs and hold your body weight in your heels. Hold briefly, then squeeze your butt to slide back up. Repeat.
Safety tip: If your knees feel strained, walk your feet farther away from your body and try not to drop your hips as low.
Fat blast: Step up and down off a fitness step, curb or the first step on your staircase for three minutes. Face forward throughout and step up with each foot, then down with each foot, still facing forward.
Start: Roll up a small towel lengthwise and lie on top of it so that is fills up the space between the curve of your lower back and the floor. Bend your knees, feet flat, and hold a weight in each hand, palms facing in. Bend your elbows at 90-degree angles out to the sides, inline with your shoulders.
Finish: Tighten your chest muscles to push the weights straight up, palms facing each other. Extend your arms completely so that they are vertical, hands above your ribcage, not your face. Bend your elbows out to the sides and repeat.
Common error: Locking the elbows
Fit fix: Straighten your elbows as you push up without pushing to the end of the range of motion in the joint. Keep the elbows straight, but “soft.”
Core Triceps Extension
Fat blast: Alternate marching in place for 10 seconds and joggin in place for five seconds. Continue for three minutes.
Start: Roll up a small towel lengthwise and lie flat with the curve of your lower back on top of the towel. Bend your knees, feet flat, and hold a weight in each hand, palms facing in. Bend your elbows, making sure that they point directly up, not out to the sides. Extend your left leg straight in a diagonal line away from your left hip. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your hips and ribs.
Technique tip: If your back feels overarched, unroll the towel so it is not as thick.
Core Triceps Extension
Finish: Continue to hold your leg in an extended position as you push the weights up and straighten your arms. Keep your core muscles tight as you push the weights up. Then, bend your elbows and lower the weights behind your head. (Hold one weight in both hands if your elbows feel strained.) Repeat, completing half the reps with your left leg extended and half the reps with your right leg extended.
Safety tip: If your back feels strained, bend the knee and bring your thigh closer to your body, or drop your leg and bend both knees.
One Arm Row
Fat blast: March or jog in place as you alternate lifting each knee up. Continue for three minutes.
Start: Hold one heavy weight or two lighter weights doubled up in your right hand and stand with your legs split wide apart, left in front of the right. Bend both knees slightly, then lean forward with a straight back, bending where your hip and thigh meet, rather than at your waist. Rest your left arm on your left thigh and hang your right arm down on the inside of your left leg, palm facing in. Keep your chin tucked into your neck.
Technique tip: Press your right shoulder blade flat to your back to prevent your right shoulder from rounding forward.