Fit and Beautiful for Your Wedding
Look Your Best in a Strapless Gown
Mischa Kubancik is the co-founder of Beyond Limits, a
personal training company in San Francisco. In addition to helping brides
prepare for their weddings, she is also a certified triathlon coach and has
been helping clients reach their goals for over ten years.
One of the current, popular styles for wedding gowns is the strapless
dress. These dresses often have a corresponding fuller skirt, which can be a
very flattering silhouette. However, it can also cause brides to be
self-conscious about their shoulders and arms. Including a minimal amount of
strength training into your exercise program can do a lot to give beautiful
shape and definition to that area. Here are 4 exercises that make up the
â€śstrapless dress tune-upâ€ť.
This exercise seems to cause people to take cover and run--maybe because
it brings back too many memories of jr. high--but it is one of the best,
all-around, strength exercises you can do. Push-ups work almost every
muscle between the head and hips with special emphasis on the chest and
triceps. The easiest way to do these is from the knees (the so-called
â€śgirlâ€ť push-ups). Start with these and when you can do at least 12 pretty
easily, take it to the toes. Many times, youâ€™ll find the knees are too
easy, but the toes are too hard, so do as many as you can from the toes,
then quickly drop the knees and keep going to finish your set. No matter
what kind of push-up you do, keep these technique notes in mind:
Â· Keep your head on your spine â€“ dropping the chin towards the floor is a
Â· Make sure the hips and shoulders move together â€“ imagine your spine
being a long pole that doesnâ€™t bend
Â· Elbows in or out â€“ your choice. Elbows close to the body is harder than
having them go out to the sides
Â· To make sure you get a full range of motion, put something under your
chest to mark your end spot.
push-up start position
push-up end position
use a mark to set your end point
|Lateral Shoulder Raises
This exercise seems simple, but is actually very complex. It also is one
of the few ways to get definition on the top of the shoulder. First, you have
to make sure the muscle you are trying to work is pointing in the right
direction. The middle of your shoulder needs to point up to the ceiling. It is
very easy to let the arm roll backwards, but that changes the exercise. This
is a pretty small muscle, so it wonâ€™t take long before it really starts to
burn. Follow these other directions:
Â· The weights shouldnâ€™t touch the legs during the exercise
Â· Make sure the hands are never higher than the elbows (no chicken wings)
Â· This small muscle doesnâ€™t need much weight, so try 5lbs to start
make sure the weights donâ€™t go higher than the line of the shoulder
lateral raise - start and end position
This is one of the most common exercises out there, but there is one small
adjustment that most people forget, and it makes a big difference. In order to
get the most out of this exercise, keep the elbows slightly forward for
the whole range of motion. Although everybody does this exercise, it is a good
idea to go over a few important notes:
Â· Elbows forward and shoulders back â€“ it is much harder this way, but it is
the correct way to do it
Â· Make sure the rest of the body doesnâ€™t move. If your body is swaying, or
twisting, then your biceps arenâ€™t working and that is a waste of time. If you
are having trouble doing the exercise while keeping the body still, try
reducing the weight and/or doing the exercise on one foot.
Â· Twisting the hand doesnâ€™t really add much to the exercise. Although it isnâ€™t
wrong, it makes it much easier to â€ścheat,â€ť so keep the palm facing your leg
for the whole motion.
Â· Using dumbbells instead of a barbell prevents the domination of the stronger side
in this exercise.
elbows forward and shoulders back to get the most out of this exercise
Here is another exercise that works many muscles at once. Like push-ups there
are many variations, so everyone should be able to find a version suitable to
her level. One big mistake people make is letting their shoulders do all the
work. The goal is to keep the neck long and bend the elbows, rather than just
shrugging the shoulders.
Â· The elbows should stay close to the body and point backwards â€“ not sideways
Â· Start with the knees bent and as that gets easy, take the legs further away
till they are straight.
Â· Keep the hips close to the chair, so your legs donâ€™t do the exercise
keep the shoulders back and make the triceps do the
How many? How Often?
The whole point of strength training is to fatigue the muscle, so rather than
doings lots of sets with rest in between, which is inefficient, do less, but
push harder. The first time you do the exercise, do as many as you can
(remember only perfect form counts). If you did more than 12-15 with perfect
form, the next time you do it, you need to make it harder. If you did fewer
than 8, you need to make it easier. If you fall between 8-12 reps, donâ€™t
change the exercise. Follow that rule every time you do your exercise. This
way, you know you are being efficient. Remember, there is no such thing
as an easy strength training workout.
Lots of people worry that working out like this will make them get â€śbig.â€ť Not true.
What makes you feel â€śbigâ€ť is if your cardio program isnâ€™t complementing your
strength training. Specifically, if you arenâ€™t reducing your body fat and you
start doing strength training, you might feel â€śbig.â€ť When you are designing
your exercise program, you have to look at the whole picture, not just
Your strength training needs to be done 3 times per week, every week, to be
effective. The nice thing, though, is that it doesnâ€™t take very long. Doing
each exercise 10-15 times (no more than 2 sets) should take no more than 10
minutes. That is not much of a time commitment, especially for the benefit you
will get. Give
yourself at least 4 weeks before you expect to see any real changes.
Remember, work as hard as you can at each exercise, never sacrifice form, and
be consistent. While this is not a complete strength training program, it will
have you feeling more confident about baring your arms and shoulders in those
beautiful strapless dresses.
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