‘Tis the season to amp up your workout routine—whether you’re out to impress your boss during a work event or stockiling Tinder dates for a last-minute New Year’s Eve kiss, you want to look awesome at all of the holiday events filling up your iCal.
But thanks to the busy nature of December, it can feel like your gym time is getting sliced in half. While fitting a full-body workout into your week is always clutch, incorporating targeted moves to accentuate your best assets will reign supreme this month. We handpicked the must-do exercises you need to include in your routine depending on what you’re wearing. You’re welcome!
Mini-dresses were made for long, lean legs and an incredible derrière. These exercises practically guarantee legs for days.
Refine your thighs with a dumbbell squat.
A Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells by sides. Push hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat, reaching weights on either side of shins.
B Press through heels to return to the starting position and repeat.
Begging for a core buster? Hold the dumbbell in front of your chest to get those abs firing. If your knees are wobbling or caving in, get rid of the weights and just focus on keeping your knees in line with your pinky toes.
Lateral step-ups are a girl’s best friend when it comes to obliterating inner and outer thigh fat.
A Stand beside a low box or bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at arms length, hanging by your sides. Place one foot onto the box or step, while your other foot is firmly planted on the floor.
B Press heel of foot into the box and drive upward until your supporting leg becomes completely extended. Finish with your trail leg on the box or bench. Step down with the trail leg to return to starting position.
Not enough sweat for you? Hold a heavier weight in the hand of the side that’s being lifted and keep the hips in line the entire time. (Love this move? Probably because it’s The Lower Body Exercise That Sculpts It All.)
Deadlifts: A little scary, a lot worth it. Sculpt your butt and hamstrings with this introductory version so you can focus on your form.
A Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and palms facing thighs.
B Keeping spine naturally straight, brace abs in tight and hinge forward from hips, reaching dumbbells towards feet until chest is about parallel to the floor (avoid going below shin level to prevent back from rounding). Engage glutes to raise torso back to the starting position and repeat.
Unlike a squat, this is a hip-centric exercise meaning that your hips should initiate the movement before your knees bend. Only lower as far as you can keep your lower spine straight. Avoid any back rounding at all costs!
You’ve worked hard all fall to look smoking in your body-con dress—finally, it’s time to show off the results. These toning moves will help you take it to the next level before your upcoming fête.
Burn off Thanksgiving belly fat with mountain climbers.
A Start in the push-up position with your arms completely straight and directly beneath your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
B Squeeze your abs, lift one foot off the floor and bring your knee up towards your chest while keeping your body in as straight of a line as possible. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement with your opposite leg.
Not only are these effective in getting your heart rate pumping to melt away extra calories, they’re also a version of a dynamic plank, which means you’ll get a major ab workout. Don’t forget to keep your hips in line with your shoulders!
Dead Bugs are an awesome option when you’re too busy binge-watching The Affair to hit the gym.
A Lie faceup with arms fully extended along sides. Bring legs to tabletop position, knees bent and lower legs parallel to the floor.
B Brace core and reach left arm up and behind head while right leg straightens but doesn’t touch the floor. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.
Score an extra challenge by lowering the arm and leg on the same side to really isolate your obliques. (And try these 9 Core Exercises That Get You Closer to Six-Pack Abs.)
Saddlebags, be gone! Black Friday isn’t the only day you can score a two-for-one deal: Incorporate a band row paired with a reverse lunge to tone your upper back and your booty at the same time.
A Anchor resistance band and stand with feet together, facing in toward anchor, holding ends evenly.
B Step right leg back into a rear lunge, bending both knees about 90 degrees as elbows bend behind body, pulling ends of bands by sides (focus on squeezing shoulder blades back and together as arms row). Return to start; repeat on opposite side.
Keeping it casual for a much-deserved hot chocolate with your girls? Look so amazing in your jeans even Khloe Kardashian will be jealous.
Sliding lunges are a great way to work in the descent portion of the movement, where typically the most muscle fibers are torn and are then rebuilt stronger.
A Stand tall with one foot on a sliding disc. Rest the hands firmly on your hips and set your feet shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.
B Slide the foot that’s on the disc backward and lower your hips so that your other knee is bent to 90 degrees. Pause, then reverse direction back to starting position.
Try the lazy-girl version by throwing a washcloth on the kitchen floor and get sliding while your cookies bake in the oven.
Tighten your tush with single-leg glute bridges.
A Lie faceup with elbows bent at 90 degrees by sides, feet flexed, and heels on top of step (bring hips close enough to step that knees line up over hips). Extend left leg as straight as possible to ceiling.
B Tighten abs and press elbows down into the floor to lift hips, driving left heel up towards ceiling. Lower hips to floor, only lightly tapping the ground before lifting back up. Complete all reps on the first side, then switch legs and repeat to complete the set.
Check to make sure your hip bones are even to truly isolate one bun at a time.
Get your zen on while melting your inner thigh fat with a yoga-inspired chair squat.
A Start in a squat position, legs hip-width apart. Arms are extended next to ears.
B Jump out into a wide squat and bring arms down so hands almost touch the ground. That’s one rep. Continue repeating the movement.
Isometrically holding a squat is a great way to hone your technique and score some major sculpting points. (These 10 Exercises Will Prime Your Arms for Tough Yoga Poses—and help you look awesome in that cute tank you pair with your jeans!)
Show off your sleek, sleeveless number with toned arms and a killer back to really stun your party guests.
Score a back like a ballerina with seated cable rows.
A Sit at a low-pulley cable station with a V-handle attachment. Place the feet securely on the platform and grab the handle with both hands using an overhand grip. Using your legs (not your back), sit back with arms fully extended supporting the weight.
B Keeping your torso stationary, drive your elbows past your sides and pull the cable attachment towards the waist. Pause and squeeze shoulder blades together at the top of the row before returning to the starting position.
Be sure to roll open your shoulders before you get moving—having your shoulders rounded can actually damage the shoulder joint over time.
Develop definition in your shoulders by tacking dumbbell overhead presses into your workout.
A Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand just above shoulder height with your palms facing forward and arms bent.
B Press one dumbbell up over your head without moving the other dumbbell. Stay tall with your chest up and shoulders back. Return to starting position to perform on the other side.
Don’t want to look like the amazing hulk? Keep the weight on the lighter side and add another set into your routine. Always make sure to squeeze your core and butt—it’ll help avoid having a cranky lower back. (Find out How to Pick the Right Size Dumbbells for Your Workouts.)
Say adios to extra arm jiggles with a tricep pull-down.
A Facing an adjustable cable machine, grab the rope attachment from the high setting with a thumbs-up grip. Bring your elbows to your sides so that your forearms are parallel to the floor.
B Extend your forearms straight down while twisting the rope inward so that your knuckles face the floor when your arms are fully extended. Pause, then return to the start position.
Maintain a proud chest during the full range-of-motion to make the most out of this movement.
Fit and Flare Midi Dress
Trying out a fit-and-flare tea dress for the first time? Nip in your waist line and carve out your calves with these go-to moves.
Rotational side planks define your waist by forcing your core to stabilize during a dynamic movement.
A Start on floor in side plank position, body balancing on left palm and sides of feet, right foot staggered in front of left; bend right elbow and place palm behind ear to start.
B Rotate torso to bring right elbow up to touch inside of left elbow. Reverse motion back to start position. Switch sides; repeat.
P.S. The slower you go, the more work your abs have to do. (We’ve got more Abs-olutely Amazing Core Exercises for a Flat Stomach.)
Midi dresses tend to cover up your thighs, so give your calves (and your killer heels) a chance to steal the spotlight with a simple calf raise.
A Stand on the balls of one foot with your knee slightly bent. Hold onto a chair for support if needed.
B With your toes pointed forward, flex your calf to raise your body up as high as you can. Pause, then lower to return to the start position.
Exercise the same amount of control while lowering and raising as you do when your co-worker surprises the office with donuts. (Who are we kidding? Exercise more control than that.)
Between deadlines like whoa and a never-ending gift list, you’re totally stressed out. Put that anxiety to use with rotating power slams.
A In a kneeling position, hold a medicine ball with both hands at hip height. Keeping chest up, bring the ball to the outside of one hip.
B Twist torso as far as possible, bringing the ball up and above opposite shoulder. Slam it to the ground, then catch it and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
A flat back is a necessity when you’re doing this. Tone down this move by holding onto your medicine ball the entire time. It’s a little easier on your knees while guaranteeing spinal safety.
Rock Your Holiday Dress with Exercises for Every Style