The Best Exercises for Your Wedding Dress Style

You’re the blissful bride-to-be, and life just couldn’t get much better. Your family and friends have joined you and your betrothed in all of your excitement for what lies ahead. But between the late nights at the computer searching for DIY inspiration, meetings with the caterer, and seating schematics, did you forget to take care of you?

If so, you’re not alone, especially as the wedding draws closer — the last couple months leading up to the big day tend to be the most stressful. This makes it the perfect time to re-energize your fitness plan to make sure you look and feel amazing for your wedding day. FitnessGlo, the online fitness community for women, just launched a new "Busy Bride" program that makes it easy to fit exercise into your daily routine, with a preset schedule of classes designed to prep brides eight weeks prior to their wedding.

The award-winning fitness experts at FitnessGlo offer these tips and a few of their favorite exercises targeted for each of the most popular dress styles to ensure you'll be feeling strong, confident and full of energy on your big day.

Your Dress: Strapless or Halter
You Want: Sculpted Arms and Shoulders

strapless wedding gown
Left to right: David's Bridal; Mia Solano

Strapless and halter dresses show off your arms, shoulders and upper back, so you’ll want to stick to a regular regimen of upper body exercises leading up to your wedding day. Expert trainer Jeffrey Scott recommends adding these three exercises into your routine 3-5 times a week.

Exercise #1: Lateral Raises

This is an excellent exercise for achieving beautiful, sculpted shoulders. Starting in a standing position with your weights at your side, lift arms out to the side in a “T” position and stop at shoulder height; pause a moment to hold, then return down to the starting position. Use 5-8 pound weights and repeat this movement in 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Exercise #2: Bicep Curls

Start in a standing position with weights at your side and palms facing forward. Lift upward and bring the weights to the front of your shoulders, pause a moment to squeeze, and then slowly return to the starting position. Use 8-10 lb weights and repeat this movement in 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

bicep curls start position
Photo courtesy of FitnessGlo
bicep curls
Photo courtesy of FitnessGlo

Exercise #3: Triceps Push-ups

This exercise will tone the triceps, shoulders and chest! Start in a plank (push-up) position either on your knees or on your toes. Position your hands directly under your shoulders. As you lower yourself down, your elbows should skim the side of your rib cage. Keep shoulders down and core braced as you lower and press back up to the starting position. Repeat this movement in 3 sets of 6-10 repetitions.

Jeff’s top trainer tip“Keep your core braced and neck in alignment with your spine for all exercises. Don’t be afraid of using weights that are between 5-10 pounds — you will not get bulky. You will get lean, toned and will look amazing in your dress!”

Your Dress: Column or Sheath Dresses
You Want: Toned Thighs

sheath wedding gowns
Left to right: Oscar de la Renta; Elizabeth Fillmore

This classic, slim-fitting silhouette highlights all of your beautiful curves, so you’ll want to work every muscle group from head to toe with alternating cardio and strength drills. Celebrity master trainer Amy Dixon suggests doing these simple moves every other day during the last eight weeks before your big day:

Do each of the following exercises in a “superset” format by alternating between cardio and strength for one minute each with a 30 second recovery between each drill. Run through all 6 exercises 2-3 times.

3 Cardio Drills (1-minute each)

Running Butt Kicks: Run in place at a hard-to-breathless intensity while driving your arms and kicking your heels up until they touch your butt. 

Alternating High Knee Jogs: Run in place at a hard-to-breathless intensity while driving your arms and lifting your knees up in front of the body to hip height. 

Lateral Speed Skaters: Step to the side with your right foot, then place your left foot behind your right foot while keeping your hips squared to the front. Bend both knees, hinge at the hips with a flat back and reach your left hand across the body touching the floor, if possible. Alternate sides and add a hop. This should be done at a hard-to-breathless intensity.

3 Strength Drills (1-minute each — set of light dumbbells needed)

Alternating Reverse Lunge Hammer Curl to Narrow Shoulder Press: Start with feet together, standing tall and holding heavy (8-12 pound) dumbbells. Take a step back with your right foot, bending both knees to a 90 degree angle while simultaneously bending both elbows to complete a hammer bicep curl (palms facing toward each other). Hold in the lunge position and extend both arms upward, pushing the dumbbells directly above your shoulders with your palms still facing in. Return the arms back to shoulder height, step the right foot back towards the left foot and extend your arms back long to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. 

Standing Weighted Russian Twist: Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, holding one heavy (8-12 pound) dumbbell on its ends. Arms should be bent at 90-degree angles. Bring the dumbbell to the outside of the right hip while pivoting with the left leg. Rotate through the core and bring the dumbbell to the outside of the left hip while pivoting with the right foot. Repeat this twisting motion with dynamic force. To modify, keep your arms close to your body and to push it harder, extend your arms long during the rotation from hip to hip. 

weighted russian twist
Photo courtesy of FitnessGlo

Triceps Push-up with Alt. Renegade Row: Get into a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, legs extended long, and hips level with the shoulders, holding two heavy (8-12 pound) dumbbells in your hands. Complete a tricep push-up, bringing your chest towards the ground and bending your elbows straight back and hugging your ribs.  Push back up to the top of the push-up, and complete a renegade row with your right arm — squeeze your shoulder blades together while lifting your right arm. The elbow should drive straight back, hugging your ribs, as you rotate your hips. Return the arm back to the ground softly. Repeat the push-up and complete a row with your left arm. Alternate sides.

Amy’s top trainer tip: “To add variety and motivation to your next workout, try making yourself a new music playlist (or try one of these exclusive expert-curated lists from FitnessGlo) and see if you can push yourself just a little bit harder during the chorus of each song.”

Your Dress: A-line
You Want: A-list Abs

a line wedding dresses
Left to right: Ellis Bridals; Mary's Bridal; Marchesa

This stunning style emphasizes your waist, so brides choosing A-line styled gowns should consider high-intensity workouts combined with core exercises. You’ll want to dance the night away knowing you’ve put the work in. Fitness trainer Alex McLean recommends these two moves to create rockstar abs in no time:

Exercise #1: Walking Plank

From a straight arm plank (push-up) position, with your shoulders over your wrists, sit back in your heels to fire the back of the body. Walk your hands back out until you're back in the starting plank position. The body should stay still and remain in a straight line as you move. Repeat this movement 4-8 times, alternating right and left hand lead.

For added challenge, do the same movement while walking your hands to the side (think 3 and 9 o'clock). Walk the right to 3, left to 9, then return to the starting position. Repeat this movement 4-8 times, alternating right and left hand lead.

Maintaining your strong plank, walk the right hand under the left arm, return the hand to the starting position. Here, the body will rotate slightly, but should remain in a straight line. Repeat on the left a total of 4-8 times.

Exercise #2: Side plank hip drop

Start in a side plank position. Arms can be bent or straight, and legs can be bent, straight or one of each. Lower the hips toward the floor. As you lift the hips, rotate the torso toward the floor. Repeat 4-8 times before switching to the other side.

side plank with hip drop
Photo courtesy of FitnessGlo

Alex’s top trainer tip: “Be sure to include exercises where the core has to keep the body still and maintain posture, like the plank in your pre-wedding fitness routine. Then, building onto the plank, include exercises where the torso has to move in different directions, similar to daily life — for example, try the movement of tying your shoe: the core leans to the side, then rotates before slowing down the forward movement to get to the shoe. These types of movements are the most effective in toning the core.”

—The Experts at FitnessGlo:

Jeffrey ScottAmy DixonAlex McLean

About the FitnessGlo Team of Instructors:
FitnessGlo features some of the most highly-regarded, certified fitness instructors in the country who are dedicated to nurturing and challenging members, as well as creating a supportive environment. The FitnessGlo instructors are a dynamic group of acclaimed fitness experts, award-winning athletes, and master trainers who have been featured in numerous television appearances (including The Today Show and Exercise TV), have sold millions of fitness DVDs worldwide, and have been honored with various health and fitness accolades. Their diverse experience allows for a variety of workout options and their energetic approach is designed to inspire members to get moving now. To read full bios of FitnessGlo instructors, visit