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Strengthening Exercises

Add a little weight to your workout routine for fast, fab results.

You’ll see immediate body benefits with strength-training exercises. Here’s a roundup of our favorites for quick body tightening results.

Swimming (Warms up shoulders)
Put your feet together with the weights in your hands. Relax your shoulders and arms. “Swim” your shoulders backward ten times, and forward ten times. When your right shoulder’s up, your left shoulder’s down. When your right shoulder’s forward, your left shoulder’s back. Get a full range of motion to open and warm up your shoulders. Resist bending your elbows. Relax your arms so you isolate rotation in your shoulder. Repeat 10 times in each direction.

Lateral Raises (Strengthens shoulders and arms)
Lift your hands up with your knuckles facing forward to make a 90-degree angle, with your elbows at your sides. While maintaining this position, lift your elbows out to your sides at shoulder height. Then lower them back down. Lift 20 times. Advanced: Balance on one foot, switch sides and do another set.

QUIZ: How Physically Active Are You?

Field Goal (Strengthens rotator cuff, arms, muscles and shoulders)
With your arms in the up position of lateral raises, lift your arm from elbows to hands and bring your hands palm-side forward above your elbows. During the movement, your elbows remain in line with your shoulders. Repeat 20 times. Don’t let your shoulders scrunch toward your ears. Advanced: Bring your knee in line with your hip. Do 20 times. Then switch knees and do another 20.

One-Arm Row (Strengthens arms and upper back)
Place your left foot forward and your left arm supporting yourself on your left leg (or a sturdy chair if you need additional support). While keeping a straight line form the top of your head to your tailbone, use your back muscles to lift your right elbow. Barely rub against your side when lifting toward the ceiling. Stretch all the way back down. Resist rocking from side to side. Isolate by only using your right arm. Repeat 50 times. Advanced: Do 100 at each side.

WATCH VIDEO:

Obliques (Stretches and strengthens oblique muscles)
With weight in hands and feet together, lift the right weight as high as you can toward your right armpit, by bending your elbow toward to ceiling. Simultaneously lower the left weight with your straight arm toward your left ankle. Switch by lowering the right and lifting the left. Keep your chest lifted and look straight ahead. Curve your spine from side to side to increase movement. Repeat 20 times each side. Advanced: Do 100 times on each side.

Ballet Squat (Strengthens entire leg and buttocks)
Open legs to second position in ballet, with feet pointed to the sides. Your knees should remain over your ankles when you lower yourself. Place weights in both hands below you chin. Keep arms straight but relaxed. Lower yourself as far down as you can (comfortably). Stop with your thighs parallel to the ground. When straightening up, keep your knees slightly bent (and don’t lock them). Keep a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone, so you don’t lean forward. Lower 25 times. Advanced: Stay at the lowest point and swing weights between hands 20 times.

Side Leg Lift (Strengthens legs and buttocks)
With your feet together and toes pointed forward, place weight in your right hand. Rest it on the side of your right leg. Lift your right knee as high as you can, with your left hand on your waist. Lower back to the other knee and repeat, 25 times.

MORE: Exercise & Your Appetite: The Truth

French Curb (Strengthens bicep muscles)
Place weight in your right hand. Take your left hand and put it palm-side down on your right quad, slightly above your knee. Place your right elbow over and on the outside of your left wrist. Straighten your right arm all the way toward the ground and curl all the way up. Do 25 times each side. Advanced: Use both weights in your right hand and do 12 times with each arm. No weight: Do 50 times each side.

Tree Hug (Strengthens arms and chest)
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Raise your arms to the side. Raise your arms to the ceiling, keeping your hands above your shoulders. Lower the weights to the ground. Tap your elbows and come back up. Pretend you’re hugging a tree. Do 50 times. Advanced: Lift your legs in the air with your feet directly above your hips, while doing usual version.

You’ll see immediate body benefits with strength-training exercises. Here’s a roundup of our favorites for quick body tightening results.

Swimming (Warms up shoulders)
Put your feet together with the weights in your hands. Relax your shoulders and arms. “Swim” your shoulders backward ten times, and forward ten times. When your right shoulder’s up, your left shoulder’s down. When your right shoulder’s forward, your left shoulder’s back. Get a full range of motion to open and warm up your shoulders. Resist bending your elbows. Relax your arms so you isolate rotation in your shoulder. Repeat 10 times in each direction.

Lateral Raises (Strengthens shoulders and arms)
Lift your hands up with your knuckles facing forward to make a 90-degree angle, with your elbows at your sides. While maintaining this position, lift your elbows out to your sides at shoulder height. Then lower them back down. Lift 20 times. Advanced: Balance on one foot, switch sides and do another set.

QUIZ: How Physically Active Are You?

Field Goal (Strengthens rotator cuff, arms, muscles and shoulders)
With your arms in the up position of lateral raises, lift your arm from elbows to hands and bring your hands palm-side forward above your elbows. During the movement, your elbows remain in line with your shoulders. Repeat 20 times. Don’t let your shoulders scrunch toward your ears. Advanced: Bring your knee in line with your hip. Do 20 times. Then switch knees and do another 20.

One-Arm Row (Strengthens arms and upper back)
Place your left foot forward and your left arm supporting yourself on your left leg (or a sturdy chair if you need additional support). While keeping a straight line form the top of your head to your tailbone, use your back muscles to lift your right elbow. Barely rub against your side when lifting toward the ceiling. Stretch all the way back down. Resist rocking from side to side. Isolate by only using your right arm. Repeat 50 times. Advanced: Do 100 at each side.

WATCH VIDEO:

Obliques (Stretches and strengthens oblique muscles)
With weight in hands and feet together, lift the right weight as high as you can toward your right armpit, by bending your elbow toward to ceiling. Simultaneously lower the left weight with your straight arm toward your left ankle. Switch by lowering the right and lifting the left. Keep your chest lifted and look straight ahead. Curve your spine from side to side to increase movement. Repeat 20 times each side. Advanced: Do 100 times on each side.

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