Several years ago I wrote the book "Look Great Naked" that went on to become a national bestseller. Besides the catchy title, the book's popularity can be largely attributed to the fact it provided women with targeted workouts for their abs, butt and thighs.
Why are these specific muscle groups of such concern? Because they are the problem areas that can be hidden when wearing clothes, but are essential to looking good in your swimsuit.
Now that summer is rapidly approaching and you'll be wearing less clothing, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit a workout that focuses on these "trouble zones." Below are three targeted workouts that accomplish this task.
Each workout incorporates one exercise for each of the trouble zones. You'll perform a thigh exercise, a butt exercise, and an abdominal exercise every session. The only equipment necessary: a set of dumbbells and your body weight.
Now let's talk sets and reps.
For best results, perform the routine as one giant set. This entails performing the desired amount of reps the first exercise, then move on to the second and third exercises without resting. After completing all three exercises, rest for about 30 seconds and repeat the entire set. Then do it again for a total of three giant sets.
Training in this fashion will create a distinct metabolic environment, simultaneously toning you up while slimming you down.
As a general rule, moderate reps (8 to 10) are best for building maximum muscle while higher reps (15 to 20) are best for improving muscular endurance. Regardless of what rep range you employ, however, make sure that the weight is sufficient to cause you to struggle on the last few reps. Remember, if you don't challenge your muscles, you won't see results!
Finally, make sure to allow a minimum of 48 hours rest between workouts.
Intense exercise breaks down your muscles. It's during the recovery period where the muscles repair and ultimately develop. Full recuperation takes approximately two days to complete. Shortchange recovery and you'll shortchange results. The entire routine should take you less than 15 minutes to complete, so there are no excuses that you don't have time to get in shape!
Dumbbell Squat: Begin by grasping two dumbbells. Allow your arms to hang down by your sides, palms facing your hips. Assuming a shoulder-width stance, slowly lower your body until your thighs are approximately parallel to the ground.
Your lower back should be slightly arched and your heels should stay in contact with the floor at all times. When you reach a "seated" position, reverse direction by straightening your legs and return to the start position.
Stiff-Legged Deadlift: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp two dumbbells and let them hang in front of your body. Keeping your knees straight, slowly bend forward at the waist and lower and lower the dumbbells down until they touch your toes. Slowly rise upward until you reach the starting position.
Bicycle: Begin by lying on the floor with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Ball your hands into fists and place them at your ears (not behind your head!). Slowly bring your right knee up toward your left elbow and try to touch them to one another. As you return your right leg and left elbow to the start position, bring your left leg toward your right elbow in the same manner. Continue this movement, alternating between right and left sides as if pedaling a bike.
Lunge: Begin by grasping two dumbbells and allow them to hang down by your sides. Take a long stride forward with your right leg and raise your left heel so that your left foot is on its toes. Keeping your shoulders back and chin up, slowly lower your body by flexing your knees and hip, continuing your descent until your left knee is almost in contact with floor.
Make sure that your right knee does not go past your toes. Reverse direction by forcibly extending the right hip and knee until you return to the start position. After performing the desired number of reps, repeat the process on your left.
Good Morning: Begin by resting a pair of dumbbells across your shoulders. Assume a shoulder-width stance and keep your lower back taut throughout the movement. Slowly bend forward at the waist until your body is roughly parallel with the floor. In a controlled fashion, slowly reverse direction, contracting your glutes as you raise your body up along the same path back to the start position.
Toe Touch: Begin by lying flat on the floor with your arms and legs straight in the air, perpendicular to your body. Slowly curl your torso up and forward, raising your hands as close to your toes as possible. Contract your abs and then reverse direction, returning to the start position.
Sissy Squat: Begin by taking a shoulder-width stance. Grasp an stationary object (such as a chair) with one hand and rise up onto your toes. In one motion, slowly slant your torso back, bend your knees and lower your body downward. Thrust your knees forward as you descend and lean back until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. Then, reverse rise upward until you reach the starting position.
Lying Abduction: Begin by lying on your left side. Bend your left leg at a 90-degree angle and bring your left foot to rest underneath your right knee. Keeping your right leg straight, slowly raise it as high as possible. Contract your glutes and then slowly return along the same path back to the start position. After finishing the desired number of repetitions, repeat the process on your left. For added intensity, attach leg weights to your ankles.
Reverse Curl: Begin by lying on the floor in supine position. Keeping your hands flat on the floor, curl your knees into your stomach and raise your butt as high as possible while keeping your upper back pressed to the floor. Contract your abs and then reverse direction, returning to the starting position.
Brad Schoenfeld is one of America’s leading fitness experts. He’s the best-selling author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect, 28-Day Body Shapeover and his newest book, Women's Home Workout Bible. Schoenfeld is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and as a personal trainer by both the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. He’s also been named “master trainer” by the International Association of Fitness Professionals. Check out his website at www.lookgreatnaked.com