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Abs: Workouts for Buff Brides

Got the perfect wedding dress -- but not the perfect six-pack? No worries. We've organized our best abs workouts by dress type, so you can tone and trim in all the right places.

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wedding dress with corset bodice
All gowns available at Kleinfeld/kleinfeldbridal.com
All gowns available at Kleinfeld/kleinfeldbridal.com
All gowns available at Kleinfeld/kleinfeldbridal.com
All gowns available at Kleinfeld/kleinfeldbridal.com
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Find the Perfect Workout for Your Dress

We'll start with the facts: You'll only be holding that bouquet in front of you during photo sessions and for the short time it takes to say your I Sure Will's. The rest of the day (and night) promises full-on gut exposure. Scared? Don't be. We're going style-by-style to match your dress with the best ab-trimming, flab-busting, waist-cinching workouts so you can keep your mind on more important things on your big day.

Disclaimer: Talking about waists and wedding dresses can get confusing. Typically, you'd consider the "waist" of a gown to mean, well, where your waist is: Below your bustline and above your hips. On dresses, that translates to the area where the bodice (the material that wraps fully around the midsection) typically ends and the skirt (the fuller, lower part of the dress) begins. Of course, the wedding dress industry has a few different ideas. Some dresses begin to billow right under your bust line (referred to as an "empire waist"), while others begin to flare out as low as at the knee (the "mermaid" style). Some dresses don't flare out at all. So when we here at FITNESS talk of waists, we mean, literally, the core muscular area from the top of your ribcage down to just above your hips, regardless of where the skirt fullness begins.

So which workout is right for you? The following pages will give you the right shaping and sculpting moves for every silhouette.

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Corset Bodices

When it comes to waist management on your wedding day, the structure and material of your dress's bodice is what really counts. A corset-style bodice, for example, typically either has vertical "boning" (plastic or even metal rods) that extends from under your bust straight to your hips or a firmly structured stomach panel with a rigid, supportive back closure (a zipper, tie closure, stream of buttons, or combination thereof). Both can literally shrink the circumference of your waist, making it look longer and leaner, and provide a secure structure that can hold the dress up on your body without straps. (Thanks, gravity!)

Does that mean you don't have to work your abs if you're wearing a corset dress? Nice try -- you'll be that much more comfortable (and confident!) on W-Day if you do. (Plus, if your dress is strapless, there's bulging of a different kind to consider.)

Our 10 Favorite Core Exercises

Extra Help for Strapless Dresses: Beat Bra Bulge

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Soft Bodices

If the bodice of your gown doesn't have a built-in corset -- a sheath or A-line silhouette, for example -- it'll look and feel less structured across your waistline. In other words: Soft bodices call for hard bodies.

Tighten and trim your midsection with these abs exercises and workout routines:

The 4-Week Ab-Cinching Plan

VIDEO WORKOUT: Pilates for a Slimmer Core

Last-Minute Help: 5-Second Tummy Tuck Shapewear

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Ball Gown Styles

Ball gowns, sometimes referred to as princess gowns, are your classic fairy-tale dresses. A slim corset top meets a wide, billowy skirt usually made of layers of tulle, crinoline, or other sheer fabrics. A smart choice for pear-shaped gals (or anyone with a Cinderella fantasy), ball gowns can help give the illusion of a smaller waist and allow brides show off sleek arms, shoulders, and -- depending on the bodice -- their back.

Make the most of this waist-hugging style with these exercises, designed to strengthen your core muscles (your body's internal corset) and give you that Disney princess midsection.

6 Moves for a Ball-Gown-Ready Waist

Lose Your Love Handles with 3 Moves

We know what you're thinking: Does choosing a poofy-skirted gown mean you can skip the leg, hip, and thigh workouts? Well, you can't honeymoon in that dress, chica.

Best Moves for Your Legs, Thighs & Butt

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A-Line Dresses and Empire Waists

Considered some of the most forgiving styles, A-line and empire waist dresses are smart silhouettes for brides with awesome upper bodies, and another great option for gals with heavier bottom halves. Unlike ball gowns, they won't hug your core, and can help give curvier waists a more angular, svelte look. A-lines are narrow at the top and flare slightly outward, literally creating an A-shape, while empire-waist dresses cinch directly under the bustline and then float softly outward from the body (though less dramatically than A-line gowns).

All that said, these gowns will look even sweeter against tight abs, and you'll want to spend a little time trimming and toning that upper body since it'll be front-and-center. Here's your plan:

Sexy Abs in 6 Weeks

No Sit-Ups, No Ab Flab -- No Kidding!

Tummy Toners for Every Fitness Level

Get a Trim, Toned Upper Body Fast

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The Best Complete Workout for Every Dress Style

The secret to looking longer and leaner in a hurry? Pilates. If you've yet to try your first Hundred or Single Leg Stretch, there's no better time than now. For brides, Pilates offers serious ab, arm, and leg workouts that'll make you look trim and tall as you get stronger. (Why stronger? Well, someone's gotta deal with the caterer.)

Get the complete Pilates routine here

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6 Core-Strengthening Power Moves

The truth is, core workouts can be one of the most overall body- and spirit-changing exercises a gal can do: Working your midsection can improve the way you move day-to-day (as it helps strengthen your back), and even how you hold yourself -- and you know your mom's always been right about that posture thing.

We'll leave you with a few key core-strengthening moves that will help you stand up straighter (great for the wedding photos) and transform your entire body in time for the big day.

Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, April 2009.

The Suck-It-In Move: Crab Walks

The I-Didn't-Know-I-Had-Those-Muscles Move: The Bow

The Strength-Builder: Half Boat

The 6-Pack Move: Butterfly Crunch

The Lose-Your-Love-Handles Move: Side Crunch

The No-More-Spanx Move: Hair Wash Torso Twists

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