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Legs, Thighs & Butt: Workouts for Buff Brides

We've organized our best workouts for your legs, thighs, and butt by wedding dress type (because no bride who's planning a wedding has time to tone muscles she's not showing off). Find your perfect dress and get the workout that'll help you shape up in time for your wedding day.

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Jupiter Images
All gowns available at Kleinfeld/
All gowns available at Kleinfeld/
All gowns available at Kleinfeld/
All gowns available at Kleinfeld/
Chris Fanning
Susan Pittard
Jupiter Images Unlimited
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Bottom's Up

Unless you've chosen a tea-length dress or a gown with a super-high slit, you might not have given much thought to toning your legs and thighs for the big day. And if your butt is going to buried in miles of tulle by your princess gown, chances are you've long abandoned lunges and squats. But if your dress is moderately form-fitting, your lower half will be on display (guess which side faces the crowd when you're saying your I Do's?).

If you're planning to wear a mermaid, sheath, trumpet, or any other butt-hugging silhouette, you'll want to add the following moves to your regular exercise regimen. And maybe go buy a smaller garter.

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The Best Moves for Sheath Dresses

Designed to snugly hug your curves, sheath dresses can make a petite bride appear taller and a fuller-figured bride look more proportional. Appropriately, this style is sometimes referred to as a column dress -- but when's the last time you saw a column with hips?

These hip and outer-thigh exercises can help you trim and tone your way into this sleek style:

Get It Done Fast with a 10-Minute Hips Workout

Extra Moves to Help You Slim Down Everywhere Else

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Best Moves for Trumpet Dresses

Here's a gown that calls for a stellar lower half. Trumpet dresses tend to be fitted right to the bum, softly flaring out beneath it. It's a sophisticated and elegant style -- especially when it highlights a toned butt and sleek outer thighs. The key here is lifting and toning pretty much everything about your rear view.

Your Plan: Love Your Lower Body in 4 Moves

3 Squats That'll Tighten Up That Tush

Our 10 Favorite Butt-Lifting Moves

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Best Moves for Mermaid Dresses

Even more figure-fitting than trumpet gowns, mermaid dresses typically are ultra-fitted to the body, right down to the knee, with a dramatic flare reaching down to the ground. It takes a pretty tight bottom circumference to make this style work, as evidenced by the number of super-hot celeb brides that have walked this sexy style down the aisle: Christina Aguilera, post-Bridget Jones Renee Zellweger, and most recently, Anne Hathaway in Bride Wars.

These moves will ensure you look amazing from every angle in this style:

Dangerous Curves Ahead! Hip, Thigh, Waist Whittlers

Kickbox Your Way to Leaner Hips

8 Pilates Moves Ideal for Lower Halves

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Best Moves for Tea-Length Gowns

Adorable, retro, and making a comeback, this sweet, fashion-forward style is typically cut to about mid-calf, making it a good choice for informal or beach weddings or for brides with already-amazing gams.

Celebrity Trainers' Moves for Super-Sexy Legs

How to Avoid Bulky Calf Muscles from Squats and Lunges

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Must-Do Move: Outer and Inner Thigh Toner

No matter which dress you choose, you'll want to add this move to your routine. It works as hard for your bachelorette party skinny jeans as it does your trumpet gown.

  • Stand holding the back of a chair. Press your shoulder blades back and down.
  • Come up onto the ball of your left foot, and lift your right leg.
  • Keeping your abs pulled in, bring your right leg across your body, in front of your left.
  • Now, swing it back out to the right, keeping your toes flexed and your toes turned out. Use momentum to swing through your leg as you fire through your left glutes.
  • Do 10 reps. Be sure to keep both hips facing forward.
  • Come onto the right leg and repeat for 10 more reps, again making sure your hips are facing forward.
  • Flex your foot as you use momentum to swing your left leg and fire through your right glutes.
    Take a breather, then do a second set.

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Must-Do Move: Butt-Boosting Lunges

Check the tag on your mermaid-style dress: If it's missing the following instructions, you can thank us after your big day.

Curtsy Lunge & Lunge with Lift

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms at sides.
  • Lunge diagonally forward with your right foot, crossing it to the outside of your left leg, bending both knees 90 degrees.
  • As you lunge, curl dumbbells toward your shoulders.
  • Straighten legs, then lift your right knee and bring it in toward your chest as you lower arms.
  • Lunge back diagonally with right leg, crossing leg behind body and to the left, bending both knees while curling weights toward shoulders.

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Must-Do Move: The Leg Shaper

This move is a nice departure from lunges and squats, but it doesn't work on your under-butt jiggle as much as it offers a strong (yee-ouch!) hip-to-knee tightening. Of course, you may be soon subjected to a public garter removal, so you should get used to pain now.

The Single-Leg Circle

  • Lie back on the mat with your arms by your sides and your palms facing down.
  • Begin by pointing with your left foot, as if reaching out with your toes toward the ceiling, and rotate your leg slightly outward.
  • Inhale, and trace a circle on the ceiling with your left leg, moving your whole leg, but keeping your hips still. Don't lift your left hip off the floor.
  • Trace the circle on the ceiling 5 times in a clockwise direction. Repeat in a counter-clockwise direction.

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The Love-Your-Legs Cardio Plan

Too stressed to stop at the gym? Any trainer will tell you: Just take a walk. Grab your fiance, Fido, or just your iPod and take a spin around the neighborhood or the local high school track. No time for that either? Add 20 minutes to your next trip to the mall: Do two laps around each level at can't-chat-now-I'm-late speed before running your errand.

The 20-Minute Treadmill Hill Workout

Walk Your Way to Great Legs!

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Last-Minute Help: Smart Shapewear

Even the sveltest brides we know opted for industrial-strength undergarments beneath their satin wedding-day sheaths. Here's what to consider when it comes to shapewear that really works:

Briefs & Bike Shorts: Better Butt Shapers

Slimming Skirts & Shorts for Sleeker Hips & Legs

Shapewear to Tighten Your Tummy and Thighs

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Wedding Photo Advice: Showing a Little Leg

Brides everywhere will caution you, waving their albums as evidence: Photographers tend to capture parts of your body never intended to be on display (as you're hiking your dress up to descend the stairs, while you're bent over to slip on your heels, as you're fiddling with your Spanx...). It's absolutely OK to ask your camera guy or gal to keep her shutter silent when it comes to your dress's underpinnings. But just in case, wouldn't you rather know you're still showing a great side of yourself?

Originally published on, April 2009.

Hurray! No-Treadmill Workouts

Our Top Thigh Exercises

Slideshow: 3 Moves to Great Legs

PLUS: Secrets to Looking Gorgeous in Your Wedding Photos

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