The Swimsuit-Ready Workout
The target: Your thighs, hips, and abs
Grab a dumbbell with both hands and hold it by its ends next to your chest. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart [A]. Step forward with your right leg, and lower your body until your front knee is bent at least 90 degrees and your rear knee nearly touches the floor. As you lower your body into the lunge, rotate your torso toward the same side as the leg you're using to step forward [B]. (For example, if you step forward with your right leg, rotate to your right.) Reverse the movement to return to the starting position, then repeat by lunging forward with your right leg. Alternate back and forth.
If that's too hard: Perform the exercise the same way, but without using a weight.
Assume a push-up position with your arms completely straight. Position your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles [A]. Lift your foot off the floor and raise your knee as close to your chest as you can without allowing your lower back to round. (Your lower back should remain naturally arched from start to finish.) Reverse the movement back to the starting position and repeat with your other leg. Alternate back and forth as quickly as you can. (It'll seem almost as if you're running or "climbing" up a mountain.)
If that's too hard: Perform the same movement, but place your hands on a bench, couch or other sturdy object instead of the floor. This reduces the amount of your bodyweight you have to support.
Stand holding a pair of dumbbells just outside of your shoulders, with your arms bent and palms facing each other. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent [A]. Dip your knees [B] and then press the weights straight over your shoulders until your arms are completely straight [C]. Then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat. Make sure to get your legs into it: The point is to have your thighs help you push the weights up.
Grab a pair of dumbbells, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Bend at your hips, keeping your lower back naturally arched (don't round it!), and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang at arm's length from your shoulders [A]. Pull the dumbbells to the sides of your torso, by raising your upper arms, bending your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together [B]. Pause, then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms and your sides [A]. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and squat down as you place your hands on the floor in front of you, shifting your weight onto them [B]. Kick your legs backward so that you're now in a push-up position, with your arms straight [C]. Quickly bring your legs back to the squat position [D]. Jump up as high as you can. Land [E], reset and repeat the entire movement.
If that's too hard: Simply do a body-weight squat, instead of the squat thrusts.
If that's too easy: Do a push-up after you kick your legs back.
Find out how to customize this workout for your fitness level
Learn more about The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises and where to buy the book
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