The following workout routines (with variations for both gym and home workouts) were developed by Bonne Marano, a certified personal trainer in New York City, to help you get strong and look great in your wedding gown. Please remember, when you try this or any other new fitness regime: safety first! If you’re not sure you understand an exercise please seek out a qualified fitness professional who can check your form in person.
In the Gym
First, warm up the chest with a few sets of pushups:
The set-up: Start by lying flat on the floor face down, hands are shoulder width apart. Cross your ankles and bend your knees. Line up the neck and spine all the way down to your knees. A variation in the set-up would be to extend the legs straight so the weight is on your toes rather than your knees.
The movement: Exhale and push your body up extending the arms straight without locking the elbows. Tighten your abs, inhale and lower your body toward the floor, bending from the elbows and bringing the chest almost to the floor. Repeat 12 to 15 times.
Then do three sets of each of the following exercises. Be sure to adjust the suggested weights based on your personal ability.
Smith Machine Incline Press
The set-up: Set an incline bench with an angle of 30 degrees or less inside a Smith machine. Place one 5 to10 pound plate on each side of the machine. Lie face up on the bench. Grasping the bar, unlock it and extend your arms so the bar is just above armpits.
The movement: Press the handles upward until your arms are fully extended. Squeeze the chest at the top of the movement and slowly lower to start position.
The set-up: Attach handles to the high pulleys on the cable machine. Place the pin on 15 pounds on each side. Stand in the center of the two pulleys, one leg in front of the other in a lunge position (front knee aligned with the front ankle). Tilt the torso forward slightly and make sure to keep your chest up, shoulders down and elbows slightly bent. Begin with your arms extended, parallel to the floor.
The movement: Pull the handles toward your chest as if you were about to wrap your arms around someone. Hold for a count of two and open the arms to start position. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
Start by warming up the chest with two sets of pushups as explained above, 12 to 15 repetitions. Then do three sets of each of the following exercises. Be sure to adjust the suggested weights based on your personal ability.
Dumbbell Bench Press
The set-up: Lie face up on a flat bench with an 8 to 12 pound dumbbell in each hand resting near your shoulders.
The movement: Press the dumbbells upward in an arc over your chest until your arms are fully extended. Squeeze the chest at the top of the movement and slowly lower the weights to starting position. Repeat12 to 15 times per set.
Incline Bench Flye
The set-up: Lie face up on an incline bench with a 5 to 8 pound dumbbell in each hand, with the arms fully extended and palms facing each other. (If you don’t have an adjustable bench, you can create an incline by stacking two bedroom pillows on a flat bench.)
The movement: Slowly lower the weights out to your side, trying to maintain a slight bend in the elbow throughout the movement. When you feel a good stretch in your chest, squeeze your pecs and bring the dumbbells back to the starting position. Repeat 12 to 15 times.
The set-up: Lie face up on a flat bench with one 12 pound dumbbell in both hands, arms are fully extended with a slight bend in the elbows.
The movement: Lower the arms over the head, forming a semi-circle or arc motion. When you feel a stretch in the upper part of the back (like the shoulder blades are expanding) bring the arms over the chest. Repeat 12 to 15 times.
Workout copyright of Bonne Marano. Photo Credit: Tom Rauner.