Toning Tools

By Kimberly Dawn Neumann

April 26, 2005

Woo hoo – It’s almost beach time! Sun, sand and, oh yeah ... swimsuits. But before you let a little piece of spandex send you into a spiraling panic, stop sarong shopping and get fit-focused instead.

“The absolute best tool for changing your body is resistance work,” says Wini Linguivic, author of Lean, Long and Strong (Rodale, 2005). With that in mind, Linguvic has concocted a quick beach- toning routine that will tighten the areas you’ve kept under wraps all winter, specifically: glutes, legs, abs, and the back of your arms.

Committing to this workout can help you get beach-ready, says Linguvic, but the right mindset will make even more of a difference. “Don’t think of this as a quick fix. Instead, focus on how strong and balanced you’ll feel when you work out regularly,” says Linguvic. “Looking great will then just naturally radiate out of that commitment to your body. And when you feel better, you’ll be encouraged to keep working out for the long term.”

Three times a week, complete one set each of the following exercises. For faster results, tack on 20 minutes of fat-burning cardio after each toning session.

1. Two-Towel Crunch: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, hands clasped gently behind your head, and a thick rolled-up towel beneath your lower back and another placed between your inner thighs. Keeping your lower back pressed into the towel and squeezing inner thighs together, contract abdominals by bringing your ribcage forward and lifting your head and shoulders off the mat. Pause for 2 seconds at the top of the contraction. Lower slowly and repeat. Start with 10 reps, adding 1 rep each workout until you reach 20.

2. Superwoman: Lie facedown on a spread towel. Extend arms above your head, legs straight behind your body. Rest your chin lightly on the floor with the neck long. Keeping hipbones pressed into the ground, simultaneously extend and lift head, shoulders, arms and legs a few inches from the floor. Do not "crunch" neck by tilting your head back. Pause for 2 counts at the top of this move, feeling the contraction in your glutes (rear end and back of thighs) and lower back. Lower slowly. Shoot for 10 reps, adding 1 rep each workout until reaching 20.

3. Drop Lunge: Stand in a lunge position (right foot front, left foot back, about 3-feet separating legs), knees soft, left heel lifted, torso erect, abs tight, hands on hips. Keeping torso upright and centered between legs, slowly bend your right knee (keeping knee over the ankle) until right thigh is parallel to the floor. Pause. Push right heel into the floor and squeeze glutes to straighten legs and return to starting position. Do 10 reps, switch sides. Add 1 rep each workout until you can complete 15.

4. Inner Thigh Squeeze: Lie on your left side, both legs extended, left elbow bent with hand supporting head, right hand pressed into the floor in front of your ribs. Keeping hips stacked on top of each other, abs tight, drop your right knee forward to the floor in front of your left leg. Maintaining a still torso, flex left foot and lift leg up and forward a few inches. Pause at top, squeezing inner thigh muscle. Lower leg. Complete 15 reps, switch sides.

5. Suspension Bridge: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet pressed into floor hip-width apart, arms down by sides, palms flat. Without arching your back, lift hips to form a diagonal line from your knees to shoulders. Pause at the top for 2 counts. Keeping hips even, slowly lower until they’re suspended 2 inches from the floor. Don’t touch hips to the floor between repetitions. Immediately lift again into bridge position. Complete 10 reps, working up to 15.

6. Bare-Your-Back Row: Holding a 5-10 pound dumbbell in each hand, stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, shoulders over hips. With abs tight and back flat, hinge forward from your hips until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Arms hang down naturally from shoulders, palms turned in. Keeping arms tight to torso, simultaneously retract shoulder blades and bend elbows while pulling weights up toward body. Pause, squeezing your shoulder blades and elbows toward each other. Lower arms. Complete 12 repetitions.

7. One Arm Kickback: Hold a 5-10 pound dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing in. Stand, with your left hand resting on a chair back for support. Step your left leg front, right leg back, knees soft. Tilt torso slightly forward from hips. With your arm close to your body, bend your right elbow (90-degrees) and lift it slightly higher than your back. Keeping your upper arm stationary, extend from the elbow, straightening your arm behind your body. Pause. Slowly bend elbow to return to 90-degree starting position. Repeat 12 times, switch sides.

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