Get Swimsuit-Ready

Summer is almost here, which means that sunny days spent poolside in our swimsuits are right around the corner. Just in time to help us get into bikini-ready shape, Liz Hilliard and Clary Hilliard Gray of Charlotte-based workout studio Hilliard Studio Method (shown above) have debuted a transformative 20-minute beach body workout video and shared some quick and easy moves and tips—that will turn this possibly anxiety-inducing moment into an opportunity to feel more confident about our swimsuit-clad selves than ever before.

According to HSM’s mother-daughter co-founders, you can start looking five pounds lighter without even breaking a sweat. This can be achieved simply by standing up straight. “Your posture can have a dramatic impact on the way your body looks in a bathing suit, and on your health,” they advise. “When you slouch, you can cut off valuable oxygen flow to your muscles, reduce your flexibility, and cause back pain by putting your body in poor alignment.”

To look slimmer and taller, be aware of your posture and make it a priority every day, the HSM ladies say. To straighten up, pull your shoulder blades together at your back, roll your shoulders down your back to make your neck long, and pull in your abdominal muscles for core support and a flattened tummy. Over time, this will become your “new normal.”

Their other no-exercise-required advice? Drink plenty of water, and cut out the sugar. In addition to keeping you hydrated on hot summer days (particularly if you’re engaging in physical activities or having a few “adult beverages” on the beach), water flushes your body of waste and toxins, and drinking a glass of H2O before each meal will make you feel satiated faster. To mix it up, Liz and Clary suggest adding lemon or berries for a bit of flavor and an antioxidant boost.

As for sugar, HSM’s co-founders don’t mince words about the importance of eliminating it from our diets and being vigilant about checking the labels on processed foods to make sure it doesn’t sneak back in. If going cold turkey sounds intimidating, they recommend taking it slow. “Even those with the biggest sweet tooth can cut their sugar by doing it gradually. Put half the amount of sugar as you normally do in your coffee, working your way down to none; half that handful of M&Ms you eat after dinner, also working your way down to none,” they advise. “Soon you won’t be missing it and you will feel and look much healthier.”

Now, for the fun part: getting in shape with a few simple moves and minimal equipment. First off: a plank pushup series that lets you use your own body weight as resistance to achieve strong arms, a healthy back, and flat abs. Here are the steps:

  • Come to all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your elbows slightly bent.
  • Walk your knees back so that your hips drop in line with your knees. Stay on your knees for a modified plank hold. To advance, tuck your toes and extend to straight legs. Make sure your back is flat and not dipping low. Gaze slightly ahead of your fingers to keep your spine properly aligned and pull your belly button up and in toward your back.
  • Hold this position as long as you can, up to 60 seconds, taking breaks as needed. Don’t forget to breathe!
  • Walk your hands wider than your shoulders for pushups. On either knees or straight legs and toes, bend your elbows and hover your chest down to elbow level and then push back up to straight arms. Complete 10 pushups.
  • Plank run for 30 seconds by pulling your knees into your chest. Keep your back flat and your hips low, and expect to start to sweat!
  • Side plank and work your waist and challenge your balance by placing your right hand under your shoulder and your knee under your hip as you open your chest and stack your shoulders and hips. To advance, extend the bottom right leg long and straight and lift your left leg in the air. Hold this for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 pushups, another set of plank runs, and a left side plank hold.
  • The icing on the cake, and where you’ll really change your body, is to complete a final round of 10 pushups and a 60-second hold.

Next, to make sure your backside looks great in your bathing suit, perform the following moves:

  • Lie with your back, head, and shoulders on a mat or soft surface with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Press your heels into the ground and lift your toes toward the ceiling.
  • Tuck your tailbone up and under so your lower back feels rounded. Lift your hips up to a bridge and feel your backside from your hamstrings to your gluteals squeeze.
  • Start to gently tuck your hips up an inch 20 times with control squeezing at the top.
  • Shift your weight to the left and extend your right leg to 45 degrees.
  • Tuck up an inch 20 times.
  • Keeping the hips lifted and the left leg isolated, sweep the right leg up to 90 degrees and hover back down to 45 degrees 10 times slowly and with control.
  • Hold the right leg low at 45 degrees and finish with 20 tucks. Place both feet on the floor to modify throughout.
  • Take a break between sides and repeat the same thing on the left side.
  • After completing both legs, you can advance with another set when you are ready with high heels. Walk the feet closer to the body and press into the balls of your feet to raise the heels.
  • Repeat the same moves as you did before and get ready to feel the burn and see the results!