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Toss that sarong: We've got the ultimate workout to help you slip on a bikini with confidence. "Each of these exercises targets at least three major muscle groups -- so you train smarter, not longer," says Rael Isacowitz, a Pilates specialist and exercise physiologist based in Costa Mesa, California.
The Result: Swimsuit-worthy abs, plus sleeker arms, butt, and thighs. Do this workout three or four days a week for 20 minutes (complete the entire series of exercises twice), then add another 15 minutes of high-intensity cardio.
To boost the challenge, use light weights where indicated. Include two 45- to 60-minute cardio sessions on your off days and follow a healthy diet, and in just four weeks you'll be sitting poolside with pride.
Burn 150 calories with this high-energy cardio-sculpting plan. If possible, do it on sand or some other soft surface to up the challenge and burn even more calories.
|0:00–2:00||Jumping Jacks||Maintain a fast, rhythmic pace with arms almost touching overhead.
|2:00–4:00||Run in Place||Bend elbows and pump arms front to back while reaching your knees up to your abs, accentuating leg movements as you run|
From a standing position, lower knees 90 degrees into a squat, keeping arms parallel to chest.
From the bottom of the squat, jump up 4 to 6 inches.
Land softly with knees bent; repeat.
|7:00–9:00||Run in Place|
|12:00–15:00||Run in Place||Gradually slow to cool down.|
Maximize results in your regular routine by following these workout strategies from Marcus C.C.W. Elliott, MD, a sports-medicine and performance expert based in Santa Barbara, California.Push Yourself
Eke out two more reps when you're lifting weights, add 10 minutes to your typical cardio routines, make one weekly aerobic workout last longer than 45 minutes. "Over time, small changes like these can make a big difference in your body," says Dr. Elliott.Mix It Up
Try doing two different cardio activities per workout. Instead of walking for 30 minutes on the treadmill, for example, walk for 20 minutes and jump rope for 10. "You'll challenge your cardiovascular system and prevent overuse injuries," says Dr. Elliott.Add Intervals
Include a few high-intensity intervals in two of your cardio workouts each week. After warming up, do one minute of high-intensity activity (an 8 or a 9 effort level on a scale of 1 to 10) followed by three minutes of moderate exertion (5 to 6 on the same effort scale). Repeat for a total of five intervals, then cool down for a few minutes.Stretch Smarter
Instead of taking a break between weight-lifting sets, stretch for 30 seconds as a form of active rest. You'll save time, streamline your routine, and keep your heart rate slightly boosted, says Dr. Elliott.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, June 2005.