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Incredible Arms, Shoulders & Back: Workouts for Buff Brides

Going to the chapel? Here are the simplest, most fun ways to tone your biceps, triceps, chest, shoulders, and upper back in time for your wedding.

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Jupiter Images Unlimited
Photo by Chris Fanning
Photo by Chris Fanning
Kickback A
Jay Sullivan
Kickback B
Jay Sullivan
Andrew Parsons
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
Jupiter Images
All gowns available at Kleinfeld/kleinfeldbridal.com
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Amazing Arms on Your Wedding Day

Considering all the bear-hugging, hand-holding, bouquet-tossing, and glass-toasting you'll be doing at your wedding, it makes sense to spend the most time toning your upper body. For many brides, this will be the only body area exposed throughout the entire day (even those cathedral veils are see-through, after all). Whether your dream dress has cute cap sleeves, long, lacy sleeves, or none at all, your arms will inevitably be on display.

Tone up in time for your big day with these targeted exercises -- and wave goodbye to your single-gal days without the extra upper-arm jiggle.

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360 Shaper: The Push-Up Progression

Start with this all-in-one move that'll lead you down the aisle toward a stellar upper body, no matter what your dress style.

  • Place your hands on a windowsill, table, or bench with your toes on the floor. Keep your body in a straight line, with your arms fully extended.
  • Bend your elbows 90 degrees; then push back up. Be sure to keep your abs engaged and your head in line with your spine. Continue doing push-ups for about 30 seconds.
  • Next, hold yourself in the start position for another 30 seconds.

Advanced Version

  • Assume a regular push-up position with your hands on the floor, palms below your shoulders and your abs contracted.
  • Do 30 seconds of push-ups.
  • Hold the push-up plank position for 30 seconds. Contract your abs and squeeze your inner thighs together.

To Make It Even Harder... Add an alternating leg plank: Do 30 seconds of floor push-ups, then hold one leg out behind you in plank position for 30 seconds. After 15 seconds, switch legs.

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360 Shaper: Dive-Bomber Push-Up

This challenging take on the classic push-up sculpts you from head to toe, while increasing flexibility in your hamstrings, back, and shoulders.

  • Begin with your hands and feet on the floor and your hips raised, so your body forms an inverted V.

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360 Shaper: Dive-Bomber Push-Up

  • Lower your shoulders, then glide your chest forward, bringing it between your hands and up toward the ceiling.
  • Keep hands 2 to 3 inches wider than your shoulders and your knees and hips 2 to 3 inches off the floor.
  • Reverse the move, bringing your hips back toward the ceiling.
  • Repeat for a total of 5 to 10 reps.

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360 Shaper: Cheerleader Raise

This move will raise your heart rate as you target your shoulders, helping to take care of excess flab as you tighten and tone the muscles underneath. Stay motivated: Imagine those dumbbells are 5-pound bouquets.

  • Stand with your fee hip-distance apart, one hand on your hip, the other holding a dumbbell at your side.
  • Raise the dumbbell above your head. Try to lengthen your opposite arm and leg away from each other.
  • Then drive the knee toward the elbow. (The more the legs work, the higher the calorie burn.)

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Triceps Toner: Pullovers with Dumbbells

You'll be toasting your guests at some point during your big day -- here's a move that'll make your arms look tight as you raise that glass.

  • Lying on an exercise bench or large couch cushion, hold a 5- or 8-pound dumbbell in both hands with your arms extended over your chest.
  • Slowly lower the weight behind your head and return the weight back.
  • Do 15 reps. (Want it harder? Raise your legs and bend your knees 90 degrees.)

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Beat Bra Bulge: The Kickback

An amped-up version of yoga's Cobra pose, the Kickback can get you closer to those sculpted shoulder blades your backless dress is begging to reveal.

  • Lie facedown on a mat with your legs together and a resistance band under your chest, holding one end in each hand, arms by sides.
  • Lift your chest and reach your arms straight out at shoulder level in front of you, keeping your shoulders down.
  • Hold for 1 count.

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Beat Bra Bulge: The Kickback

  • Next, reach arms back behind you, keeping arms near body.
  • Hold, then lower your body back to the mat.
  • Do 8 reps.

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Total-Body Burner

This move will tone and sculpt just about everything, so you'll want to add it to your routine no matter what your dress looks like.

  • Come into a full push-up position, balancing with your toes on a step.
  • Lower into a push up.
  • Bring your left knee toward your chest, then raise the knee out to the side until it's at hip height.
  • Bring the knee back to center, then lower your foot back to the step and return to start.
  • Repeat the sequence for 8 reps.
  • Rest for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

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Release Tension: Cat & Cow

This combo is an excellent stress reliever as well as back strengthener and toner, especially if you're holding tension (invitations are late, mother-in-law just upped the guest list) in your lower back.

Cow Pose: On hands and knees, inhale and lift head while making back concave.

Cat Pose: On exhale, tuck tailbone, contract abs, and round back, head down.

Child's Pose: Draw hips back to heels, drop chest, rounding spine, and rest forehead on the floor, arms in front of you. Do 6 reps of the whole cycle. Rest in Child's Pose for several breaths.

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Extra Help for Strapless Dresses

If your dress ends at the top of your bustline (and you're not planning on sporting a shawl or capelet for your ceremony), you'll have it all on 360-degree display the whole day: shoulders, biceps, and triceps -- okay, and chest, too. Your upper-body workout needs to specifically include moves that alternately tone and strengthen each area. Consider these:

One Killer Move (for Your Entire Upper Body)

For Sculpted Shoulders: Shoulder Press with Rotation

For the Backs of Your Arms: The Cobra Pose

PLUS: Get Gorgeous Cleavage on the Big Day

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Extra Moves for Dresses with Sleeves

Sleeves -- be they bell, cap, off-the-shoulder, or full-length -- are a sweet detail that can make your wedding dress uniquely your own (most dress shops or tailors can add them to just about any strapless gown). Plus, sleeves can offer support to a gal who has, um, little in the way of holding up her dress, or offer a little extra coverage for brides with conservative families. And what looks awesome peeking from beneath sweet cap sleeves? Toned biceps! Here's how to get 'em.

Must-Do Move: Dumbbell Curls

Working Out at Home? Try This Chair Routine

7 Moves for Jiggle-Free Arms

Advanced Chair & Dumbbell Moves for Beautiful Biceps

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Extra Moves for Backless Dresses

It's a standard photographer's shot in most wedding albums: Mom (or Gram, or one of your bridal party gals) zipping or buttoning you into your dress pre-ceremony. Additionally, your guests will spend more time looking at you from this angle than any other, assuming they're seated behind you and your groom during the I Do's. If your dress is basically backless, you'll want an arsenal of exercises that tone not only your triceps -- the back top third of your arms -- but also your full back and shoulder blades.

Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Back Exercises

Complete Pilates Routine for a Beautiful Back

Grab a Ball for This Upper-Back Toner

The Lunge-Hinge (to Target the Lower Back)

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Extra Moves for a Detailed Back

Lattice straps and open-work lace are popular styles for gowns and can look gorgeous when they highlight a toned, sculpted back. But as both styles press in on your skin (that's how they keep your dress up!), the last thing you want poking through those intricate criss-crossed straps is back bulge. Here's how to beat back fat and get a gorgeous silhouette in this type of gown.

Be Gone, Bulge! Simple Back-Toning How-Tos

Resistance Band Moves for a Sexy, Sculpted Back

8-Minute Better-Back Workout

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Extra Moves for Higher-Neck Dresses

Almost every gown will put your shoulders front-and-center, but if your gown features a cowl neck or a boatneck style, your shoulders become the main attraction. Get chiseled shoulders, triceps, and a long, slender neck with these simple moves.

The ABCs of Sexy Shoulders

So Long, Jell-O Arms!

3 Moves for Sculpted Shoulders

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Extra Moves for Dresses with Straps

Spaghetti straps, halter tops, wide-strapped V-plunges, single-shoulder swashes...there are as many wedding dress strap styles as there are exercises to tone the areas they'll show off. Sculpt sexy shoulders (front and back) and arms with these workouts.

Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, April 2009.

The Arm Toner That Sheds Pounds (Grab a Jump Rope!)

3 Moves for Sleek Shoulders

The Complete Tank-Top Toned Workout

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