3 Weeks to a Bikini-Worthy Body
Don't worry — there's still time to get a beach-ready body. We have just the plan: a high-energy cardio and sculpting routine that's guaranteed to boost your metabolism, melt fat, and blast calories. Best of all, you can do it in as few as 30 minutes a day. "By performing total-body strength moves along with high-intensity interval workouts, you'll be able to reshape your body in a relatively short period of time," says trainer Joe Dowdell, owner of Peak Performance Strength and Conditioning Center in New York City.
Do the strength moves in the order given, alternating muscle groups so you won't need to rest for more than 60 seconds between each exercise. Do 10 to 12 reps and two or three sets of each move. Add in the cardio interval workouts on alternate days and follow a healthy diet, and you'll be ready to show off your skimpiest bikini in just three weeks!
Your Fat-Loss Schedule
Maximize your results by following our detailed three-week cardio/sculpting plan. On the weekends, take one rest day or do a moderate-paced exercise of your choice (we've given a few examples) to up your weekly calorie burn.
|Sunday||Ride Bike 1 Hour or Rest|
|Sunday||Run/Walk 1 Hour or Rest|
|Sunday||In-Line Skate for 1 Hour or Rest|
1. Bulgarian Split Squat with Stability Ball
Fitness Focus: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes
- Stand one stride's distance facing away from a stability ball.
- Place top of right foot and shin on the ball. Bend your left knee 90 degrees in 2 counts (keep knee aligned over ankle), then straighten left leg in 2 counts.
- For an added challenge, hold a 4- to 10-pound medicine ball or dumbbells.
- To modify, place the ball against a wall for support.
2. 1 and 1/4 Push-Up
Fitness Focus: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders
- Get into a full push-up position, forming a straight line from head to heels.
- Bend elbows 90 degrees, lowering body toward the floor in 3 counts; push one-quarter of the way back up from the floor, then lower chest back down without touching.
- Push all the way back up to starting position in a count of 3.
- To modify, place knees on the floor.
3. Back Extension on Stability Ball
Fitness Focus: Lower Back
- Lie facedown over a stability ball, hips resting on ball and feet on floor.
- Bend elbows, placing hands on either side of your head.
- Lift chest off the ball, keeping lower body stationary (be careful not to strain your back); lower to starting position.
- To modify, place feet against a wall.
4. 1 and 1/4 Medicine-Ball Pullover
Fitness Focus: Back, Triceps, Abs
- Lie faceup on a bench with feet on floor, holding a 4- to 10-pound medicine ball with arms extended over chest.
- Lower ball toward head in three counts until arms are parallel to floor.
- Return ball toward chest, stopping one-quarter of the way up.
- Lower ball until arms are again parallel with the floor; return all the way back to starting position in 3 counts.
5. Prone Torso Twist on Stability Ball
Fitness Focus: Abs, Obliques, Lower Back
- Start in a full push-up position with palms on floor aligned under shoulders, feet on a stability ball.
- Lower feet until they're grasping the sides of the ball.
- Keeping upper body stationary, rotate your legs and hips to the left in 2 counts; return to center and rotate to the right in 2 counts.
- To modify, place your knees on either side of the ball.
6a. Standing Dumbbell Curl
Fitness Focus: Biceps, Shoulders
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a 3- to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand, arms straight at sides with palms facing forward, and curl dumbbells to shoulders (not shown).
- Fan elbows out to sides and turn palms to face forward so elbows are bent 90 degrees.
6b. Military Press
Fitness Focus: Biceps, Shoulders
- Push dumbbells overhead until arms are nearly straight; rotate palms to face in.
- Return weights to shoulder level, elbows out to sides, then lower to starting position.
7. Alternating Calf Raise
Fitness Focus: Calves
- Stand on a step with heels off the edge, holding on to a wall or bench for balance.
- Press up onto balls of feet. Lower right heel toward ground; hold for 1 count.
- Switch feet and repeat, lowering left heel toward ground, and hold for 1 count.
- Repeat, switching legs with each rep.
- For a challenge, raise one foot off the step and balance on one leg; to increase intensity, hold a 4- to 10-pound medicine ball or dumbbells in front of you.
8. Alternating-Leg Hip Bridge
Fitness Focus: Hamstrings, Glutes, Abs
- Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on floor, hands on floor beside hips.
- Squeeze your glutes and lift hips up in 2 counts until shoulders, knees and hips form a straight line.
- Keeping hips lifted, straighten left leg, then lower hips in 1 count.
- Return left heel to floor and lift hips again in 2 counts.
- Repeat, extending right leg and lowering hips to floor. Switch legs with each rep.
Fast-Track Your Cardio
You don't need to hit the gym for hours in order to blast fat. In fact, shorter, high-intensity interval-based routines can be more effective than longer, slow-paced ones, says trainer Joe Dowdell. "Because you are moving at a high intensity, you'll not only burn more calories during the workout, but you'll also rev up your metabolism for several hours afterward," he notes.
This interval program takes 30 minutes and can be done with virtually any cardio machine or outdoor activity. Use your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) — how hard you're working on a scale of 1 to 10 — as a guideline.
|0:00–5:00||Warm up at an easy pace (RPE 2–3: You’re breathing comfortably)|
|5:00–6:00||Increase intensity to a fast pace (RPE 8–9: You’re breathing hard)|
|6:00–8:00||Lower intensity to a more moderate pace (RPE 5–6: You could hold a conversation with slight effort)|
|8:00–26:00||Repeat interval sequence 6 times, doing 1 minute of high intensity (RPE 8-9) followed by 2 minutes of recovery (RPE 5–6)|
|26:00–30:00||Cool down at an easy pace (RPE 2–3)|
RPE: Rate of Perceived Exertion. How hard you’re working on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the easiest.
Note: Follow this workout by doing 10 minutes of light stretching, focusing on your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.