How To Get a Bikini-Ready Body

In an excerpt from the new book, The Six-Week Bikini Countdown, a Dallas author and Pilates instructor shows us fail-proof ways to get our bodies in shape in time for bathing suit season. (Finally!)

Ladies, it’s time to unveil the sexy vixen hidden underneath your baggy sweats. Don’t worry if you’ve a little cellulite (what woman doesn’t?) or you’re carrying a bit of a belly around the middle. With The Six-Week Bikini Countdown you won’t be saddled by saddlebags or burdened by your underbutt any longer. Instead, your abs, legs, and butt will be better than ever, and you can stroll the beach with confidence. Do these Pilates and strength exercises four times a week—preferably after your cardio, for a total workout time of 60 minutes. The Six-Week Bikini Countdown is your crash course to your sexiest bikini body—and that’s a promise.

3 Exercises for Toned Abs

Criss-Cross

Crisscross _1

Starting Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Lift your shoulders off the ground and curl your chin to your chest. Straighten your left leg so it’s about nose level, toes in line with your nose, while your right knee nears your chest.

Position 1: Inhale to twist your right elbow to your left knee. Imagine your ribs collapsing or tightening around your belly. Repeat five to 10 times.

Position 2: Exhale to twist from your bottom rib so your torso moves your left elbow to your right knee, armpit to knee.

Tips and Tricks
  • Wring out your lungs with every exhale to get that yummy oblique work. Deepen your twist on every set; your elbow reaches past your knee while you look behind you. Slow down the tempo and hold the twist—it’s killer!

Double Leg Life with 2-pound Ball

Double -leg _1


Starting Position:
Lie on your back with straight legs lengthening to the ceiling at a 90-degree angle. Hold a ball, clasp your hands behind your head for support, and open your shoulders so you can see your elbows at your sides.

Position 1: Inhale to lower your legs to the floor, only taking the legs as low as your back is anchored to the mat: no strain, no arch, no bulge! Exhale to lift your legs to a 90-degree angle, exhaling every last breath to drop your belly button to your spine. Imagine that a low seat belt is tightly fastened around your lower belly, from hip bone to hip bone, to feel your lower belly muscles, or transverse. Repeat five to 10 times.

Tips and Tricks
  • Don’t lift your lower back off the mat; only lower your legs without feeling this in your lower back. If you can’t keep your back on the mat, bend your knees. Don’t strain your lower back.
  • Don’t forget to scoop, scoop, and scoop your abs.

Teaser Twist with 2-pound Ball

Teaser -twist _1


Starting Position:
Lie on your back with your legs straight and your  arms straight over your head. Hold the ball in your hands.

Position 1: At the same time, inhale to lift your arms to your legs  into a “V,” your fingertips reaching for your toes. Scoop, scoop, scoop to build strength and protect your back.

Position 2: Exhale to twist your torso to the right, and inhale back to the center.

Position 3: Exhale to twist your torso to the left. Inhale to center, and  exhale to roll down slowly to the mat. Repeat three to five times.

Tips and Tricks
  • Don’t strain your lower back.
  • Don’t plop down; scoop and uncurl your spine to lower to the mat with control.
  • If this exercise is too hard with the ball, drop it and follow the same steps.

3 Exercises for Lean Legs

Plank with Jumps on Step

Plank _1


Starting Position:
Place your hands on a step, palms down, making sure your elbows are directly underneath your shoulders. Stand behind the step.

Position 1: In one motion, jump back into a plank position, keeping your back perfectly straight; imagine that everything from your head to your heels is hard like steel.

Position 2: Jump in toward the step.

Position 3: Jump (explode) to the ceiling, using your arms to lift you even higher, and then jump back to plank. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps.

Tips and Tricks
  • Don’t sag in your lower back as you jump into plank position; lift your belly button toward your spine to support your lower back.
  • Don’t drop your head; look at the floor or keep your head in line with your spine.

Single Leg Hip Extension with Dumbbells

Single -leg _1


Starting Position:
Stand with feet hip width apart, with your knees straight. Hold a 15- to 20-pound (7 to 9 kg) dumbbell in each hand.

Position 1: At the same time, bend at the waist, lower your chest to the floor, and lift your left leg to the ceiling, head in line with your spine. Lift your navel to the sky and then lift your torso back to a standing position. Do 12 to 15 reps on the left leg, then 12 to 15 reps on the right.

Tips and Tricks
  • Don’t jut your chin forward; your head follows your spine, keeping your torso completely straight.
  • Don’t sag your belly. Lift your navel to the sky to support your lower back. If you have a lower back injury, check with your doctor first.

Side Passe

Side -passe _1


Starting Position:
Lie on your right side with your legs straight; your ankles, knees, and hip bones stacked on top of one another; and your feet in a Pilates “V.” Prop your head up with your right arm and then place your left arm, palm down, on the mat in front of your torso; relax your shoulders. Lift both legs at the same time and lower them in front of your body to about a 45-degree angle so your body makes the shape of a banana.

Position 1: Inhale to bend your left leg so your knee lifts toward the ceiling, then slide your toes along the inside of your bottom leg.

Position 2: Continue inhaling as the top leg lengthens to the ceiling. Exhale to lower your leg to the bottom leg—imagine one, two, three miles long—as the top heel extends past your bottom foot. Repeat three times, and then reverse the direction of the passé for three more.

Tips and Tricks
  • Don’t sit back in your hips; if your hips are tight, it may be hard to open them, causing you to sit back. Focus on lifting your knee to the ceiling to open and stretch your hips; however, you don’t have to lift your leg as high.
  • Don’t forget to engage your inner thighs and lift up from your pelvic floor to get lots more work.

3 Exercises for a Great Butt

Side Kick Front and Push Back with 2-pound ball

Side -kick _1


Starting Position:
Lie on your left side with your knees bent in front of you so your ankles, knees, and hipbones are stacked on top of one another. Prop your head up with your left arm and then place your right arm, palm down, on the mat in front of your torso; relax your shoulders. Put a 2-pound (1 kg) ball behind your right knee and lift your top leg to hip height so it’s parallel to the floor.

Position 1: Inhale to move your leg forward.

Position 2: Exhale to move your leg back, pushing with your heel to firm up your fanny.

Tips and Tricks
  • Don’t lower your foot; keep your foot in alignment with your hip to get that yummy outer thigh work.

Hot Potato with 2-pound ball

Hot -potato _1


Starting Position:
Lie on your left side with your knees bent  in front of you so your ankles, knees, and hipbones are stacked on top of one another. Prop your head up with your left arm and then place your right arm, palm down, on the mat in front of your torso; relax your shoulders. Put the 2-pound (1 kg) ball behind your left knee and lift your top leg to hip height so it’s parallel to the floor.

 
Position 1: Inhale to turn your knee to the ground and tap it to the mat in front of your thigh.

Position 2: Exhale to lift your heel to the ceiling and feel your booty work.

Tips and Tricks
  • Don’t move your knee; keep it at an angle to the floor to get the yummy outer thigh work.
  • Don’t drop your heel; keep it high to work your booty.

Froggy with Big Ball

Froggy _1


Starting Position:
Roll onto your hips so the ball supports your torso. Place your elbows on the floor in front of the ball and then open your legs slightly to bend your knees, placing your heels together. Gaze at the floor.

Position 1: Inhale to lift your feet to the ceiling, and then exhale to lower your knees to the ball. If you need a rest, drape yourself over the ball after you’re done and just breathe. It’s a yummy lower back stretch.

Tips and Tricks
  • Don’t sag your belly; lift your belly button to the sky to give your lower back support.
  • Don’t forget to firm up your fanny; put a thousand dollar bill between your butt cheeks—well, at least imagine it!

Bad Bikini Habits

Ditch Your Diet Sodas.

Diet sodas pack on the pounds! Research from the University of Texas Health Science Center suggests that those drinks may actually stimulate your appetite; i.e., people who drink diet drinks gain weight instead of losing it. Diet drinks are just not
bikini-worthy!

Slim Down With Water.

You know this. Drink at least two 1.5-liter bottles a day—try one in the morning and one after you work out—and eat foods that are high in water, too. Your favorite fruits, whole wheat or spinach pastas, and soups loaded with veggies can fill you up faster and help prevent you from overindulging. Bonus: your skin will look and
feel oh-so-bikini beautiful.

Bye-Bye Bad Fats.

For a slim, sexy bikini belly, avoid trans fats. Interesting studies show that these sneaky fats move fat from other areas of your body to your belly—scary, huh? Trans fats can be found in vegetable shortenings, margarines, snack foods such as cookies and crackers, and fast foods. 

Curb Your Nighttime Cravings.

If you want your best bikini bod, stop eating after 6:30 p.m. Tune into your hunger (usually five hours after a meal) and go to bed feeling light rather than full in your tummy. Try eating your largest meal at lunch and then snack on lean protein and veggies for dinner.

Don’t Skip Breakfast.

Eating first thing ignites your calorie-burning engine and helps prevent you from overeating all day. Surely you’ve got time for a two-minute breakfast: nonfat plain yogurt, blueberries, and walnuts; multigrain toast with banana and yummy almond butter; or a bowl of healthful high-fiber cereal, nonfat milk, and fruit.

Good Bikini Habits

Sweet Resolutions

Chocolate, nuts, and figs, oh yum! You can satisfy your sweet tooth and get bikini benefits just by eating dark chocolate, nuts, and, my favorite, Fig Newmans (Paul Newman’s Own). All of these treats are filled with precious nutrients, including antioxidants, heart-healthy good fats (omega-3), and loads of fiber. A little bit goes a long way, though. For example, a handful of walnuts will give you your daily dose of the heart-healthy fats.

Downsize Your Portions

Whether you use petite plates, cut your portions in half, or vow to leave some food behind, eat a little less at every meal. If you’re still hungry, wait 20 minutes before digging in, because that’s how long it takes for your body to register your level of fullness.

Eat the Right Carbs—and Eat ’Em Early

For your leanest bikini body, eat the majority of your whole wheat, multigrain, bran, or rye carbs at breakfast, and then taper off as your day presses on. Skip the breadbasket at dinner; instead focus on lean protein and veggies. Just say no to white flour, breads, and rice.

Get the Skinny on Tea

Replace your less-than-desirable beverages (diet sodas) with teas. For healthful bikini body benefits, drink white, black, green, or delicious red teas, and you’ll get precious antioxidants without any calories.

SuperFood Your Diet

Get to know your leanest and most healthful bikini foods. Avocados, almond butter, turkey, eggs, and fatty fishes such as salmon are all heart-healthy fats; low-fat dairy foods are good for your bones; spinach and leafy greens are rich in folate; orange foods such as carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes give you beautiful skin; and berries such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are packed with antioxidants.

Tips For Your Best Bikini Fit

Fit Like a Bra

Your bikini top should provide support and structure. In other words, your breasts shouldn’t swing, sag, or separate with every move you make.

Hug Your Butt

Big is not better in the bikini bottom department. Put another way, you don’t want to look like you had an accident in your pants! Your bottoms should fit snugly around your derriere in and out of the water. Shy away from bikinis that have a tendency to stretch in the water, such as some crochet bikinis.

Elongate Your Torso

Your bikini should accentuate your waistline. Horizontal and vertical stripes work well, as do some floral prints, as long as there’s a contrast between light and dark to provide depth to your body.

Walk the Line

After trying on your bikini, do a few leg lifts, bend over, jump, walk, or run to ensure that your bikini bottom stays put and doesn’t ride up.

Show Off Your String

String bikinis are not just reserved for hot bodies. Truth is, string bikinis look oh-so fabulous on most body types. So, don’t be shy!

Fake It

If you love your bikini but don’t fill up your bikini top, buy a pair of waterproof push-up pads. And don’t forget your Nippits to conceal your, well, you know!

Buy the Book

The Six-Week Bikini Countdown by Karon Karter is available at Borders, 3600 McKinney Ave.
214-219-0512. Multiple locations. www.borders.com.

Excerpted from The Six-Week Bikini Countdown by Karon Karter. Copyright © Fair Winds Press 2008.

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