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The Summer Slim-Down Workout

  • Denise Crew

    Tighten and Tone

    Hone all your bikini zones — upper arms, abs, butt, and thighs — and then some with this high-octane workout. The key is to alternate each of these shapers with 30 seconds of cardio, says trainer Holly Rilinger, who created this Summer Slim-Down plan for FITNESS and who draws big crowds to her outdoor training camp and Spinning classes at Flywheel Sports in New York City. "Your heart rate stays elevated the whole time, so you're burning plenty of calories as you build lean muscle," Rilinger says. Beginners can march in place between sets; exercise pros can do high knees or jumping jacks. Complete the circuit twice and aim for two to three sessions each week.


  • Lower-Body Blast

    Targets shoulders, arms, butt, and legs

    • Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms at sides.
    • Lunge backward with right leg, bending both knees 90 degrees.
    • Skipping in place, lift right knee to hip height and come up on ball of left foot; simultaneously swing left arm over head. Return to backward lunge.
    • Do 12 reps. Switch sides and repeat.
  • Hip Trimmer

    Targets shoulders, chest, arms, abs, butt, and legs

    • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands clasped in front of chest, elbows out to sides.
    • Lunge left leg out to left side, bending left knee about 90 degrees while keeping right leg straight; left knee stays in line with left toes.
    • Push off left heel to return to center, then lower into a squat.
    • Return to start and repeat on opposite side to complete 1 rep. Do 12 reps.
  • Dip and Crunch

    Targets shoulders, triceps, abs, and obliques


    • Sit on floor with knees slightly bent, heels on floor and hands by hips, fingers facing forward.
    • MAKE IT HARDER: Sit on edge of a chair with palms on seat beside hips and scoot butt forward off seat.
    • Bend elbows 90 degrees behind you, or as far as you can go without resting on floor.
    • Straighten arms while lifting right knee toward chest. Lower heel to floor and repeat dip-and-crunch combination.
    • Do 12 reps, alternating sides.


  • Belly and Booty Firmer

    Targets abs, obliques, butt, and hamstrings


    • Lie faceup on floor, knees bent with heels on floor and arms at sides. Extend left leg toward ceiling, foot flexed.
    • MAKE IT EASIER: Keep both feet on floor.
    • Lift hips, squeezing glutes. Hold for 1 count, then lower.
    • Keeping left leg raised throughout, crunch up, reaching hands toward left foot. Return to start.
    • Do 12 reps. Switch sides and repeat.


  • Plank Tap

    Targets shoulders, abs, obliques, hips, and legs


    • Lie on left side, hips and legs stacked and left elbow aligned under left shoulder, with forearm on floor.
    • Extend right arm toward ceiling and lift hips, forming straight line from head to heels.
    • MAKE IT EASIER: Keep right hand on hip.
    • Tap left side of hip to floor for 1 count, then lift back up to side plank.
    • Do 12 reps. Switch sides and repeat.


  • Russian Twist

    Targets chest, abs, and obliques


    • Sit on floor with knees slightly bent, arms extended in front of you with hands together.
    • Lift legs until shins are parallel to floor, feet together, and lean torso back about 45 degrees.
    • MAKE IT EASIER: Keep feet on floor.
    • Holding legs here, twist torso to left together with arms. Return to center and twist to right to complete 1 rep.
    • Do 12 reps.


  • Thread the Needle

    Targets shoulders, chest, abs, and obliques


    • Get on floor in full push-up position, arms extended with hands aligned under shoulders and legs extended behind you.
    • Bring left knee across body toward right elbow. Return to start, then lift right hand out to right side to tap floor.
    • MAKE IT HARDER: Do quickly, like mountain climbers.
    • Switch sides, bringing right knee to left elbow and tapping left hand out to left side, to complete 1 rep.
    • Do 12 reps.


  • Head-to-Toe Toner

    Targets chest, biceps, abs, butt, and hamstrings

    • Stand with feet together, arms at sides, knees slightly bent.
    • Hinging forward from waist, bring arms toward floor under shoulders while lifting left leg straight behind you, body forming a straight line from head to left heel.
    • As you return to standing, lift left knee to hip height and bend elbows directly behind you, bringing hands by ribs. Lower arms and right leg to return to start.
    • Do 12 reps. Switch sides and repeat.
  • Denise Crew

    Melt + Trim Cardio

    The secret to supersizing the slimming power of this plan? Don't skimp on your usual cardio; whether you walk, kickbox, or do Spinning, stick to it three times a week. Even better, Rilinger says, is to skyrocket your calorie-burn every minute by occasionally turning up your intensity, and she shows you how with a couple of ingenious drills she gives her clients. Or use your tunes to pump up the pace: The move-tivating playlist here alternates songs with steady rhythms and ones with fast beats that nudge your speed.

    Cardio Option 1: Just Beat It!

    Download this 31-minute high-low intensity playlist, created by Deekron, a DJ and the producer of, to groove and lose.

    Warm up
    "Feel Inside," Mary J. Blige, featuring Nas (5:07)
    "You da One," Rihanna (3:20)
    Speed up
    "Good Feeling," Flo Rida (4:06)
    "Out of My Head," Lupe Fiasco, featuring Trey Songz (3:24)
    Speed up
    "Part of Me," Katy Perry (3:35)
    "Feel So Close" (Radio Edit), Calvin Harris (3:27)
    Speed up
    "Runaway Baby," Bruno Mars (2:27)
    Cool down
    "Show Me Everything," Tindersticks (5:29)


  • Denise Crew

    Cardio Option 2

    Fat-Frying Pyramid

    You can do this routine outside or on a cardio machine, going from a walk to a jog to a run, picking up speed every minute. (40 minutes total)


    Time Speed Intensity (Scale of 1-10)
    Warm up 5
    5 mph, or similar pace on elliptical 5-6
    5.5 mph 6
    6 mph 6-7
    6.5 mph 7-8
    7 mph 8
    7.5 mph 9
    7 mph 8
    6.5 mph 7-8
    6 mph 6-7
    5.5 mph 6
    Repeat sequence, starting at 5 mph  
    Cool down  
  • Denise Crew

    Cardio Option 3

    Gym-Machine Lean Routine

    0:00-10:00: Warm up 10 minutes on a 0 incline.

    10:00-30:00: Go at a moderate pace and increase the incline by 0.5 every minute until you hit a 10.0 incline. (You can walk or jog or do the elliptical, but keep the speed constant.)

    30:00-40:00: Cool down for 10 minutes on a 0 incline.

    Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2012.