If there’s one time in your life you want to look your absolute best it’s, naturally, your wedding—a day when there will be more photos taken of you than ever before. You’ll likely be looking back on these wedding photos for decades to come, so you might as well feel proud of the bod you’re flaunting.
Of course, a wedding workout is not as easy as lifting a few weights the day or two before your nuptials. As any fitness trainer will tell you, proper planning—often far in advance of your big day—is key to be in your desired shape on a specific date. “A lot workout time into your schedule and extra sleep so you can recover from working out is essential,” says Mark Jenkins, a celebrity trainer who has worked with the likes of Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott and Brandy.
If your pressed for time (and what bride or groom isn’t) intensity is what really matters. “Stay present as you train and really try to feel the exercise in the target muscle as opposed to just getting the workout over with,” Jenkins adds. “Rest only as long as it takes to recover and try to complete your workout 2 min shorter every time to train.” Bottom line: Challenge yourself but have fun and enjoy the process.
To help you get in tip-top shape for your big day, here are some tried-and-true wedding workout tips from America’s top trainers.
Incorporate strength training
Little else compares to strength training when it comes to getting a strong, toned body, according to Chris Ryan, C.S.C.S and founder of Chris Ryan Fitness. Some science 101 though: toning requires building muscle in order to burn fat. “The more muscle you can build the more fat you burn and the more toned you look,” he says. He recommends focusing your wedding workout on functional movements with a variety of resistances—kettlebells, dumbbells and resistance bands are some great tools, as well as your own body weight at challenging positions and angles.
Suspension trainers like TRX are awesome tools that put your body under various tension in a multitude of ways, but work your core and butt in nearly every movement one way or another, explains Ryan. “Easy functional movements like squat pulls, tricep extensions and bicep curls are great but also options like inverted pull-ups and single leg suspended squats are there if you're more advanced,” he says. “And remember, any movement can be made harder or easier with body positioning and keep the reps in the 10-15 range to make sure you are getting a great workout and that form on point.”
Pick up pilates
Pilates offers a great way to strengthen and lengthen at the same time. “By working in controlled movement patterns, you can work on centering your core and overall body position and mechanics,” says Ryan. “Pilates works your whole body and offers little pounding or pressure on the joints or ligaments, making it a great alternative for beginners to get a great workout as well as seasoned athletes looking for an alternative to the weight room.” But don’t be fooled—this is definitely not an easy workout when done right.
Love running? Amp up your wedding workout jogs by incorporating some springs. “Sprint workouts rip up your core like no other and work on your whole body from your lungs to your arms, abs and legs,” says Ryan. “The best way to get a good sprint workout in is head to a track or soccer field and work on safely building speed over the course of the workout.” He suggests building from five reps on your first workout to 10-15 reps over several workouts and increasing speed while decreasing your rest between intervals. “This will leave you with an amazing new toned body you never thought possible.”
Allow yourself to destress
With wedding planning there comes a lot of stress, which ups your body’s levels of the hormone cortisol, which is the best thing when you’re trying to tighten and tone for your wedding. “While doing HIIT training, weight lifting, cardio and other forms of exercise are great they can also be a hindrance if you are too stressed out,” says Ben Boudro, C.S.C.S., owner of Xceleration Fitness in Auburn Hills, Michigan. “Remember, when we workout we stress our bodies and we actually increase the amount of cortisol in our bodies (temporarily), so every once in awhile we need to take a little break.” A great way to take a "breather" and still keep your metabolism high is hot yoga. “The heat will help you with sweating your ass off improving your lymphatic system and flushing out the toxins in your body,” Boudro adds.
Pound the water
According to Boudro, water is the most underrated part of weight loss. Drinking enough water should be an important part of your wedding workout plan. “People often think that it's not that vital and will only make you look bloated, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth,” he says. “It does the opposite of bloating and instead helps you burn more calories, boosts your energy level, allows for nutrients to be delivered to your muscles, prevents dehydration, etc.” That last one—dehydration—is certainly something you’ll want to prevent in the weeks and days leading up to your wedding. Boudro recommends keeping a water bottle with you at all times so you make sure to hydrate. “Break it down and make it simple: if you have a 32 oz bottle you need to drink four of those bottles per day.”