Whether you’re on the hunt for a super-supportive sports bra or an oh-so-sexy lingerie set, finding a #flawless, designed-to-fit bra can feel like the ultimate struggle. Maybe you’re spilling out on the sides, maybe getting in and out of the bra feels like a workout in itself, or maybe the bra that claims to be supportive leaves you feeling like you’re going to get hit in the face with a boob mid-run.
“Finding the perfect bra is never easy,” says Christi Marraccini, certified personal trainer and head coach at Tone House in New York City. “But these workout moves can help. They all target ‘bra sensitive’ areas along with other areas of the body, so all bras will become the perfect bra.”
So stop shopping (at least for a few minutes) and start sweating. Marraccini recommends these eight moves that’ll leave you feeling tough, toned, and ready to strut in that new racerback, strapless, or super-sexy bra. Pick two to three movements and incorporate them into any workout that’s lacking an upper-body focus (like running or cycling), or add to an upper-body workout for an additional challenge. Complete the movements for one minute each, and aim to do one to three rounds. (Speed up your progress towards your weight-loss goals with Women’s Health’s Look Better Naked DVD.)
Where you’ll feel it: Your back
How to do it: Start standing with your feet hip-width distance apart and a slight bend in the knees, holding each end of an anchored resistance band in each hand. Fully extend your arms with your palms facing each other, then pull your arms back until your hands are by your torso, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Then return to the starting position. Maintain a long neck, keeping your shoulders down and back the entire time.
Why it works: “This movement will help tone your upper back muscles—the area where your bra straps or sports bra straps lay on your back,” says Marraccini. “This will help improve your posture and, in turn, will help prevent your straps from digging in.”
Where you’ll feel it: Your back
How to do it: Start in a pushup position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your feet hip- to shoulder-width distance apart. Grab the handles of the anchored resistance band in each hand facing the anchor point. Raise one arm straight out so your bicep is by your ear, using the other arm to support yourself. Pull your arm back until your hand is slightly past your shoulder. Try to keep the shoulders and hips square to the ground and still throughout the entire movement, then repeat with the other arm. (Want to make it harder? Hold both handles in one hand.)
Why it works: “This move is great for hitting the area on your back where the band of your bra sits,” says Marraccini. “It will help create a smoother fit, so the band line is completely seamless.”
Try these pushup variations when you want to mix things up:
Where you’ll feel it: Your chest
How to do it: Start facing away from the anchor point of the resistance band, holding the band handles in each hand. In a staggered stance, press your arms straight out in front of you until your arms are fully extended. Control your arms coming back in. To make it harder, hold both handles in one hand and do one arm at a time. Be sure to keep the bands above the elbows at all times.
Why it works: “This movement will help strengthen the muscles above the breasts, making them stronger and giving you a bit of a lift,” says Marraccini.
Where you’ll feel it: Your shoulders
How to do it: Start on your forearms in a plank position with a nice flat back. Place one hand down at a time, pushing yourself to a push-up position. Return to forearms one arm at a time. Repeat the movement switching lead arms, and avoid excess movement in your hips, keeping your core engaged the entire time.
Why it works: “This movement is great for building shoulder strength,” says Marraccini. “Since you’re changing levels as you’re doing a push-up, you’re able to target your shoulders by challenging your range of motion, leaving you with toned arms to show off in any bra.” (Get more amazing arm exercises here.)
Where you’ll feel it: Your chest and shoulders
How to do it: Start in a low pushup position with one hand directly under your shoulder and the other extended straight out to the side. Pressing through your hand, shift your weight to the other hand, keeping your chest close to the floor. Continue shifting side to side for one minute. For a modification, come down to your knees.
Why it works: “This is great for targeting those ‘armpit wrinkles,'” says Marraccini. “The side-to-side movement works wonders to tone the chest and shoulder area.”
Where you’ll feel it: Your upper body
How to do it: Start standing with feet hip- to shoulder-width distance apart and a slight bend in the knees, holding the medicine ball at hip height. Squeezing the ball together the entire time, raise it above your head and then slam it down. Keep your core engaged and avoid excessive arching and rounding in the lower back.
Why it works: “Ball slams will work all the upper body ‘problem areas,’ as well as your core,” says Marraccini.
Where you’ll feel it: Your chest
How to do it: Use something that will allow you to glide on the floor, like a towel or a set of Valslides. Starting in a pushup position with one hand on the sliding object, lower yourself down as you extend one arm straight overhead. Push yourself up bringing your extended arm back in, and return to your pushup position. Repeat on the other side. Try to keep the body in a straight line with your core engaged throughout the entire movement.
Why it works: “This move targets every muscle surrounding your breasts,” says Marraccini. “Strengthening those will give your breasts a natural lift.”
Where you’ll feel it: Your core
How to do it: Start on the ground, lying flat on your back with your arms and legs fully extended. Keeping your shoulders and heels off the ground, curl up into a cocoon, trying to maintain balance at the top of the movement. Return to the start position. To make it more challenging, hold a weighted object in your hands throughout the movement, like a medicine ball or dumbbell.
Why it works: “This move will really challenge your core,” says Marraccini. “It won’t help improve the fit of your bra, but it’ll help make sure you look really good in it!”
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