Here at the Wedding Crafts Academy, we believe that beauty comes in all sizes. But for those of you what to tone up for your wedding day, we bring you a guest post by Kathrin Spinnler, Pilates instructor and blogger at www.kathrinspinnler.com
You stare at the photo of the perfect bride. The gentle outline of muscles on her tanned back are in stark contrast to her elegant white dress as she floats down the aisle. You flip to the next photo and she smiles up at you, standing tall next to her groom. The sleeveless gown shows off her well-defined arms. With a pang of joy you realize … she’s you!
You open your eyes to face reality. The big day’s fast approaching and you’ve got a million things to do: flowers, band, dress, cake … You want that fantasy to come true, but there’s no time for lengthy workouts. How can you squeeze that in among everything else?
Effective exercise doesn’t have to take long. Here’s a short 10-15 minute sequence you can do in the weeks leading up to your wedding day. Although it’s a whole-body workout, the focus is on the upper body and posture muscles. Complete it 4-5 days a week for best results.
Before You Start
Let’s go through two basic principles to make sure you exercise safely. If you have a medical condition or injury, please consult your physician or an exercise professional before proceeding.
- Abdominal Connection
When you exercise, you need to keep your belly button slightly drawn in towards your spine. This activates the deepest layers of your abs, which is an important posture muscle and keeps both your back and your organs protected. Simply exhale and draw in your stomach to feel this muscle tighten. If you struggle to achieve this, put a hand on your stomach and cough. You’ll feel the deep abdominals contract.
- Neutral Spine
Our spine is meant to be slightly curved. That’s why ‘neutral spine’ doesn’t mean ‘flat back’. When you lie on your back, try to feel a slight gap between your lower back and the mat. During exercise, use the abdominal connection to keep your body in this position. If you feel discomfort in your lower back, press it down into the mat to create a slightly more supported position.
Lie on your back and put your hands behind your head, elbows out to the side. Keep a neutral spine and your abs drawn in strongly towards you. Curl up straight, reaching your nose towards your knees. Return down and repeat 10-20 times. Once this gets easier, you can do the same exercise with your legs up in the table top position.
Side Curl Up
Lie on your back and put your hands behind your head, elbows out to the side. Keep a neutral spine and your abs drawn in strongly towards you. Curl up and twist your upper torso to one side. Return down, switch sides. Once this gets easier, you can do the same exercise with your legs up in the table top position. Repeat 10-15 times each side.
Start kneeling with your forearms on the mat. Stretch out one leg and then the other until you’re in the full plank shape. Try to stay use your abdominal engagement to keep a neutral alignment and keep your shoulders down. If you feel your lower back engaging too much, lift your hips slightly.
To make this exercise easier, you can keep your knees on the ground. To make it harder, you can lift one leg up every time you exhale, alternating legs. In the most advanced version, you lift one arm up every time you exhale, alternating arms.
Sit neutral with your legs straight in front of you and your band around your feet. If this position is uncomfortable, you can sit on a box or book, or slightly bend your knees. Exhale, bend your elbows behind you until your hands are at your waist. Inhale, return to the starting position.
Start kneeling with your forearms down on the mat. Lift your hips up until you’re in a triangle position. The heels can stay up. Hold this position.
In the progression, you are on your hands instead of forearms. Bend your elbow until your head almost touches the mat, then stretch your arms back out.
Start kneeling in a neutral spine, with your body pitched forward and your arms behind you. Pulse them up and down for 30 seconds, keeping them as high as possible. Without taking a break, keep them high and clap them together and apart for another 30 seconds. It’s ok if your hands don’t touch.
Sit in a comfortable position and grab your band slightly more than shoulder width apart. Try to stay neutral as you lift your arms over your head and behind you. You should feel a stretch in your chest. If not, move your hands closer together on the band. Then, return the arms back to the front.
Sit on the floor with your legs in a V position. If you’re uncomfortable, you can sit on a box or some books. Twist your body to face your right leg, then lean over it to stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Finally, lean straight to the front to feel your inner thighs stretching strongly.