The Wedding Dress Workout: Incredible Arms, Shoulders & Back

Just about every bride I know tries to get into better shape before her wedding so she can look her best on her big day. Unfortunately most of us don't have tons of time to hit the gym so it's important to know how to get the most bang for your limited time exercise buck. Most wedding dresses combined with good shape-wear hide our least favorite parts of our bodies, but they do put our arms, shoulders and back on display. So if you want a surefire and easy way to make a big difference with how you'll look on your wedding day, you must try this simple 30 minute work out that concentrates on toning your arms, shoulders and back!

Complete 10-12 reps for each individual exercise in the routine, making sure that you are using a weight that challenges you!  You should feel the burn on your last 2-3 reps with the last one being a struggle.  If you are able to complete more than 12 reps with your chosen weight, it is not heavy enough.  If you are only able to complete 4 reps with your chosen weight before exhaustion, then it is TOO heavy!  Go through the entire routine once and then repeat an additional 2 times for a total of 3 sets of each exercise:)

If you LOVE this upper body workout, be sure to check out our Sweating For The Wedding 8-Week Full Fitness Program! It has everything you need to get you in the best shape of your life for your special day!

Dumbbell Bicep Curl

1.  Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand at arm's length. Keep your elbows close to your torso and rotate the palms of your hands until they are facing forward. This will be your starting position.
         2. Now, keeping the upper arms stationary, exhale and curl the weights while contracting your biceps. Continue to raise the weights until your biceps are fully contracted and the dumbbells are at shoulder level. Hold the contracted position for a brief pause as you squeeze your biceps.
     3. Then, inhale and slowly begin to lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
     4.    Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Variations: There are many possible variations for this movement. For instance, you can perform the exercise sitting down on a bench with or without back support and you can also perform it by alternating arms; first lift the right arm for one repetition, then the left, then the right, etc.

Lying Triceps Extensions
1. Lie face-up on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and hold them directly above you with your palms facing inward (neutral grip) and your arms extended.
2. Keeping your upper arms stationary and perpendicular to the bench, bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells toward the top/sides of your head. As your inner elbow joints approach 90-degree angles, pause and then smoothly reverse direction by pressing back to full arm extension. Squeeze your triceps at the top of the movement.

Bent Over Dumbbell Row
 1.    With a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing your torso), bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward by bending at the waist; as you bend make sure to keep your back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Tip: Make sure that you keep the head up. The weights should hang directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor and your torso. This is your starting position.
 2.    While keeping the torso stationary, lift the dumbbells to your side (as you breathe out), keeping the elbows close to the body (do not exert any force with the forearm other than holding the weights). On the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a second.
 3.    Slowly lower the weight again to the starting position as you inhale.
 4.    Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

- This exercise is not recommended for people with back problems. 
- Ensure perfect form and never round the back as this can promote back injury.
- Be cautious with the weight used; in case of doubt, use less weight rather than more.

Front Plate Raise
  1.    While standing straight, hold a barbell plate in both hands at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions. Your palms should be facing each other and your arms should be extended and locked with a slight bend at the elbows and the plate should be down near your waist in front of you as far as you can go. Tip: The arms will remain in this position throughout the exercise. This will be your starting position.
  2.    Slowly raise the plate as you exhale until it is a little above shoulder level. Hold the contraction for a second. Tip: make sure that you do not swing the weight or bend at the elbows. Your torso should remain stationary throughout the movement as well.
   3.    As you inhale, slowly lower the plate back down to the starting position.
   4.    Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Variations: You can use dumbbells, barbells, cables or exercise bands to perform this movement.

Hammer Curls

1.    Stand with feet about hip-width apart, abs engaged as you hold medium-heavy dumbbells in front of the thighs.
2.    Turn the hands so that the palms face each other and squeeze the biceps to curl the weights towards the shoulders.
3.    Keep the elbows stationary and only bring the weight as high as you can without moving the elbows.
4.    Slowly lower the weights, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom (e.g., don't lock the joints and try to keep tension on the muscle)

Bench Dips

  1.    For this exercise you will need to place a bench or chair behind your back. With the bench perpendicular to your body, and while looking away from it, hold on to the bench on its edge with the hands fully extended, separated at shoulder width. The legs will be extended forward, bent at the waist and perpendicular to your torso. This will be your starting position.
  2.    Slowly lower your body as you inhale by bending at the elbows until you lower yourself far enough to where there is an angle slightly smaller than 90 degrees between the upper arm and the forearm. Tip: Keep the elbows as close as possible throughout the movement. Forearms should always be pointing down.
  3.    Using your triceps to bring your torso up again, lift yourself back to the starting position.
  4.    Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

   Front Dumbbell Raise

1. Hold weights with arms straight down, palms facing thighs.
2. Slowly lift arms up to shoulder level, keeping elbows slightly bent.
3. Exhale and lower back down.
4. This exercise can also be done with a light barbell, or, if you're using heavier dumbbells, you can alternate arms.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

  1.    Your arms should be down at your side holding the dumbbells, with palms facing your body. You should be holding the dumbbells slightly off your body, as this keeps the tension on the side delts. This is your starting position for the exercise.
  2.    To execute, slowly raise the dumbbells up to around shoulder height. It's important that you do not let your wrists go above your elbows while raising the weight, as this will take the work off the side delts and put it on the front delts.
  3.    Pause at the top of the movement, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  4.    Do not let the dumbbells touch your body, and then raise them for the next rep.

Triceps Kickbacks

  1.    Hold a medium weight in both hands and bend over until your torso is at a 45-degree angle or parallel to the floor (more advanced). Bend the knees if needed and keep the abs engaged to protect the lower back.
  2.    Begin the movement by bending the arms and pulling the elbows up to torso level.
  3.    Holding that position, straighten the arms out behind you, squeezing the triceps muscles.
  4.    Bend the arms back to starting position.

·       Do this exercise one arm at a time if you're using heavier weights or need more support for the lower back.
·       Keep the abs engaged and the back flat throughout the movement.
·       At the end of the movement, your arms should extend along the body, palms facing each other.
·       Try not to swing the arms to get the weight up.

Overhead Press
   1.    Stand upright or sit on a bench with the back straight.

   2.    Hold a dumbbell in each hand at the shoulders with an overhand grip. Thumbs should be on the inside and knuckles facing up.
   3.    Raise the weights above the head in a controlled motion, ensuring that you do not slam the arms upward and stress the elbow joint.
   4.    Exhale as you push upward.
   5.    Return dumbbells to the shoulders.
   6.    Option: Alternate arms instead of both arms at once.

Seated Bent Over Rear Deltoid Raise
  1.    Place a couple of dumbbells looking forward in front of a flat bench.

   2.    Sit on the end of the bench with your legs together and the dumbbells behind your calves.
   3.    Bend at the waist while keeping the back straight in order to pick up the dumbbells. The palms of your hands should be facing each other as you pick them. This will be your starting position.
4.    Keeping your torso forward and stationary, and the arms slightly bent at the elbows, lift the dumbbells straight to the side until both arms are parallel to the floor. Exhale as you lift the weights. (Note: avoid swinging the torso or bringing the arms back as opposed to the side.)
5.    After a one second contraction at the top, slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
6.    Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

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