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FEATURE FRIDAY: The GL Bikini Body Work Out

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With sun, surf and handsome hotties looming on the horizon, it’s time to strut the sand with a whole new body-lovin’ attitude. Let our works-for-everybody workout help you get in shape and feelin’ great about your bod.

Looking good in a swimsuit isn’t about having the hottest body on the beach. What it really comes down to is how great you feel. Girls come in all different fabulous shapes and sizes, and you can pretty much thank Mom and Dad for yours. But no matter what body type you’ve been dealt, you can improve it.

All you’ve got to do is work it—any body looks better when it’s firmer and more toned. And having all-over strong muscles pumps up your confidence level. Plus, revving your metabolism not only helps you stay leaner but packs pizzazz into your personality. Radiating energy is the key to body-confident charisma.

This workout targets the muscles that give you a tight, curvy shape. All you need are a pair of sneakers, comfortable exercise clothes and some weights (or water bottles). You can do the moves without weights but, for best results, use 3- to 8-pound dumbbells. Just spend 30 minutes every other day following this routine, and your body will be rockin’ in just six wonderful weeks.

Do all the toning exercises as slowly as possible. Sculpting is about using muscle control, not momentum. Begin with a 5-minute warm-up—walking or jogging in place—then do the moves we’ve outlined for you on these pages.

You can do light stretches before or after these exercises, as well. You’ll see the best results by incorporating weights into the exercises. Start with light weights (about 3 pounds), and gradually increase pound by pound as the exercises become easier. Certain muscles are stronger than others, so you might find that you need to vary the weights for each exercise. If you have only one set of weights, you can double up by holding two in one hand and doing an exercise one arm at a time. Good weights can be purchased at performbetter.com, spriproducts.com or any leading sporting goods store.

THE PLANK

Start
Position yourself with your hands and knees on the floor. Drop your hips and walk your hands forward so that your knees, hips, head and shoulders form a diagonal line. Make sure your butt neither sinks nor pikes up too high. Flatten your lower abs by pulling in your bellybutton, but avoid pulling in so much that your spine curves. Hold this flattening contraction for 60 seconds before moving on to the final step.

Finish
Keep the lower abs tight to stabilize your pelvis and spine. Slowly lift your right knee up, then your left knee, and straighten both legs behind you. You should be propped up on your toes and hands, with your body forming a diagonal line from head to heels. Keep your torso stable, and continue pulling your belly button in while breathing normally. Hold for 15 seconds, working your way up to 2 minutes over a period of several weeks (add 5 to 10 more seconds each time).

THE TWO-WAY CRUNCH

Start
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Raise your legs so your knees are above your hips and your calves are parallel to the floor. Place your hands lightly behind your head, elbows to the sides. Contract abs, pulling your bellybutton into your spine.

Finish
Exhale, and squeeze your abs as you lift your hips slightly off the floor. Bring your knees toward your chest, simultaneously lifting your head and shoulders a few inches off the floor. Inhale as you lower. Slowly repeat for 15 total repetitions.

THE TRICEPS DIP

Start
Sit on a bench, and grip the edge of the seat with both hands on either side of your butt. Hold your arms straight but not locked. Keep feet flat and knees bent. Walk your feet slightly forward, contract your abs and lift your butt so your hips are level with the front of the seat.

Finish
Supporting yourself with your hands, slowly lower your butt until your upper arms are almost parallel to the floor (elbows and shoulders will be bent at a 45- to 90-degree angle). Push yourself back up to the straight-arm position, and repeat for a total of 12 times.

THE CONCENTRATION CURL

Start
Sit on a bench or chair with your knees bent and feet separated shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand and lean slightly forward from your hips. Let your arm hang down in line with your shoulder, palm facing in. Place your right hand on your right thigh for support.

Finish
Exhale, and bend your left elbow to curl the dumbbell toward your left shoulder. Slowly lower and repeat 12 times, then switch arms and do another 12 repetitions. (Because your biceps are strong, make sure the weight you use is heavy enough to fatigue your muscles.)

THE BACK LUNGE

Start
Standing tall with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward, hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging at sides and abs contracted.

Finish
Step as far back as you comfortably can with your left foot, bending both knees so right knee aligns over right ankle and left knee lowers toward the floor without touching it. Keep your left heel lifted. Return to standing position by squeezing your butt and pushing off left foot. Repeat, lunging back on the same leg 15 times slowly, then switch sides.

THE SQUAT

Start
Hold a dumbbell on each shoulder, elbows pointing down. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your abs tight.

Finish
Balance most of your body weight on your heels, then bend your knees and bring hips toward the floor while pushing your butt back. Bend your knees to about a 90-degree angle, but avoid pushing your knees forward past your toes or dropping your hips below your knees. Keep your back and chest lifted so that you are leaning at a diagonal, not in a horizontal, flat-back position. Squeeze your butt muscles to stand back up. Lower and repeat 15 times slowly.

THE INNER-THIGH DROP

Start
Lie on your back, and extend your legs straight in the air. Position your feet over the hips, and keep knees and ankles together. Contract your abs, and relax your arms by your sides.

Finish
Lower your left leg out to the side, keeping it straight. Go as low as you comfortably can while keeping your torso stable. If you feel any strain on your back, raise the open leg higher. Use your inner thigh muscles to bring the leg back up. Perform 10 times slowly, then switch legs.

THE ONE-ARM ROW

Start
Stand about three feet from the back of a sturdy chair, your left foot in front of your right. Place your right hand on the chair for support and hold a dumbbell in your left hand with your arm hanging by your side, palm facing in. Bend both knees slightly and lean forward, keeping your back straight.

Finish
Squeeze shoulder blades together, then keeping your left arm close to your torso, lift the weight slightly behind your waist. Draw your left shoulder blade toward the middle back as you lift. Lower your arm, and repeat 12 times slowly. Switch arms.

THE ARM AND LEG EXTENSION

Start
Lie face-down on the floor with both arms extended in front of you, palms facing down. Contract your abdominals to stabilize your hips. Keep head and neck aligned with your spine by resting your forehead on the floor.

Finish
Lift your right arm and left leg 2 to 3 inches off the floor. Keeping your head low, lengthen your arm and leg by pushing them away from your body as you lift. Hold for a second, then
lower and repeat 15 times. Switch sides.

To get fitter faster and to radiate energy, do this:
Sculpting exercises, will tone your muscles. But cardio exercises, such as walking, running or aerobics, burn the most calories. Getting your engine going burns anywhere from four to nine calories per minute, depending on your body weight and how fast you’re moving. The more vigorously you move, the more fat you burn.

If you’ve never run regularly, start by walking and inserting 15- to 30-second jogging intervals every five minutes. As you get more fit, run for longer stretches and decrease the time between intervals. If running is too much for you, stepping is the next best thing. Although walking fast up stairs is great, going down can strain your knees…so go slow. Or eliminate knee stress by stepping up on an exercise step-bench and then stepping down backward. Face the bench as you step up and down, periodically switching the leg that leads. Add arm movements to up the intensity. (If you don’t have a step-bench, use the bottom step of a staircase.) Walk, run or step at least 30 minutes daily.

By: Martica Heaner, M.A., M.Ed.

POSTED ON 3/21/2008 12:00:02 PM

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