Get a Bikini Body in 4 Weeks
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Fitness

Get a Bikini Body in 4 Weeks

Try our exclusive Pilates-based workout -- you'll sculpt your abs, arms, butt, and thighs in 20 minutes flat.

Pilates for a Beach-Ready Body

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.

 

1. Front Lift

Fitness Focus: Thighs, Glutes, Calves, Abs, Shoulders

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides.
  • Optional Challenge: Hold 2-pound dumbbells.
  • Lift arms overhead, palms facing in, lifting right leg from the hip until it's parallel to the ground.
  • Hold for 2 counts, then drop right foot into a front lunge.

2. Front Lunge

Fitness Focus: Thighs, Glutes, Calves, Abs, Shoulders

  • As you lower into the lunge, bring both arms out to your sides at shoulder height.
  • Hold for 2 counts, then rise and return to standing, bringing legs and arms back to starting position.
  • Alternate 20 reps (10 per leg) with control.

3. Leg Pull/Push-Up

Fitness Focus: Chest, Back, Arms, Abs, Glutes

  • Come to full push-up position with hands under shoulders and draw abdominals in toward spine.
  • Lift left leg to hip height (point toes) or slightly higher. Lift and lower left leg 5 times.
  • Repeat leg lifts on right side.
  • Extend left leg, bend elbows, and slowly lower chest 4 inches toward the ground; straighten arms.
  • Do 5 push-ups with left leg lifted, then lower.
  • Do 5 more push-ups with right leg lifted.

4. Kneeling One-Arm Side Kick

Fitness Focus: Chest, Shoulders, Glutes, Obliques

  • Come to hands and knees with palms directly under shoulders and extend left leg behind you to hip height.
  • Grasp a 2-pound dumbbell in right hand (optional) and lift right arm out to the side to shoulder level.
  • Keeping hips, head, and arms stable, kick left leg out to the side as far as you can without rocking or using momentum.
  • Hold for 2 counts.
  • Return leg to starting position (keep arm lifted) and repeat 10 times; switch sides.

5. Front Plank/Back Support

Fitness Focus: Arms, Chest, Back, Legs, Glutes, Abs

  • Sit with legs extended and toes pointed, pressing palms to the ground 6 inches behind your butt, fingers pointing to your back.
  • Engage your abs and arch upper back slightly.
  • Press body weight into your hands and lift hips up, forming one line from ankles to shoulders.
  • As you lift hips, try to touch the balls of both feet to the ground.
  • Hold for 2 counts, then return to starting position; repeat 10 times.

6. Arm-Swing Curtsy Squat

Fitness Focus: Thighs, Glutes, Obliques

  • Stand tall with arms overhead; bend left knee and lift left foot so that it hovers next to right knee, toes pointed down (not shown).
  • Keeping right foot planted, take a giant step out to left side with left foot. Swooping down, curtsy over left leg, curling left arm in front of body and extending right arm to sky.
  • Hold for 2 counts.
  • Return left foot to starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times; switch sides.

7. Half-Seated Hip Circle

Fitness Focus: Abs, Thighs, Obliques

  • Lean back on elbows, abs tight, fingers cupping sides of hips to keep your pelvis still.
  • Extend legs 60 degrees, keeping lower back pressed to the ground.
  • Point toes, press inner thighs together, and trace 10 large clockwise circles in the air with both feet, then trace 10 counterclockwise circles.

8. Bent-Knee Roll-Down

Fitness Focus: Abs, Back, Shoulders

  • Sit with knees bent and arms parallel to ground in front of chest, holding dumbbells (optional) with palms facing each other.
  • Lean back to engage abs; bend both knees 90 degrees and lift legs until shins are parallel with the ground.
  • Balancing on your tailbone, hold for 5 seconds.
  • Keeping arms and shins parallel to the ground, slowly roll lower back down 4 inches and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Using core strength, roll up to starting position. Repeat 10 times without touching feet to the ground or rolling all the way down.

9. Double-Leg Kick

Fitness Focus: Arms, Thighs, Glutes, Back, Abs

  • Lie facedown and either clasp hands or hold a light dumbbell behind back.
  • Bend knees and bring shins perpendicular to ground, toes pointed.
  • Bring heels to glutes twice in short kicks.

  • On the third kick, lift chest off ground and extend arms straight back to hover an inch above your glutes. Straighten legs, contract thighs and glutes, and lift legs 2 inches; hold for 2 counts.
  • Lower chest, head and arms; return feet to starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

15-Minute Cardio Blast

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.

Minutes Exercise Comments
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
4:00–5:00 Squat Jumps

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.

5:00–7:00 Jumping Jacks  
7:00–9:00 Run in Place  
9:00–10:00 Squat Jumps  
10:00–12:00 Jumping Jacks  
12:00–15:00 Run in Place Gradually slow to cool down.

Double Your Results

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.

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