Mollie Martin by Mollie Martin

Confidence is the most attractive quality a person can possess, more so than being a certain size. So instead of focusing on how you look in that little black dress this holiday season, focus on how you feel! Here are some great exercises to help you feel ready to conquer the holiday season in your little black dress.

Instead of the typical circuit with the same reps and weights, begin the circuit without weight for a 10-rep warm-up and get comfortable with the exercises. Remember that form is the most important part, so if you can’t complete the action then stop. Never hesitate to ask an ACE Certified Personal Trainer to spot you. Once you have mastered the movements, set up your stations as follows:

Round 1: 60% of your max weight for 8 reps

Round 2: 70% of your max weight for 6 reps

Round 3: 80% of your max weight for 4 reps

Round 4: 90% of your max weight for 2 reps

Equipment needed: dumbbells, resistance bands, bench, stability ball, optional weighted vest.

Overhead Sumo Squat Press

This will tone the glutes, inner thighs and anterior deltoids, great for those strapless dresses! Starting position: Stand with your feet as wide as possible at a 45 degree angle; make sure that your knees stay aligned with your toes. Pull your shoulder blades down and back, and lower the weights to shoulder height. By bracing your abs and other core muscles to stabilize your spine, you will protect your lower back from arching. Movement: Drop into a wide-stance squat position (mechanics are similar to regular squat by hinging at the hips first), lowering your body to a comfortable depth or until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your body weight rests on your heels. As you stand up, push the weights up and over your head. Repeat.

Attached RB Rotations

These are great exercises to target the external obliques, rhomboids and biceps. Starting position: Start with an attached resistance band, taut and parallel to the floor. Hold onto handles with both hands at a 90 degree angle at the naval facing the base of the band. Assume an athletic stance with knees slightly bent, core engaged and shoulders back with rhomboids activated for a tall posture. Begin by twisting to the right and push out arms to increase the lever length and difficulty. Count one second per movement and return to starting position. Repeat on other side. Use a heavier band or cable weight each round.

Elevated Bridges

These are small movements but will isolate the glutes, hamstrings and lower back muscles. Starting position: Feet positioned on the edge of a bench or short ledge at a 45 degree angle. The narrower your feet are, the harder the stabilization will be throughout your body. When you add weight each round, position it directly on top of the hips or keep your arms off the ground for another progression option. Begin with your glutes on the ground and your hands holding the weight in place. Engage your glutes and hamstrings and push upward as high as possible. Hold for 2 seconds then return to starting position.

Explosive Incline Push-ups

Don’t forget about your chest muscles and biceps! Starting position: Hands on the edge of a bench and body in prone push-up position. Lower your chest in between hands and explode up and off the bench; catch yourself back into a low push-up position while keeping your neck aligned with your spine. Challenge yourself by rotating through regular, wide and narrow grip push-ups to target different muscles across the chest and biceps. Use a lower bench or box, or for a heavy progression put your feet on an incline and hands on the ground.

Single Leg Dead Lift

This is a great exercise to shape the entire posterior chain of the body (glutes, hamstrings, calves) as well as the tibialis anterior (shin muscles) and even the erector spinae and multifidus running up along your spine. Starting position: Begin the exercise by standing firmly on one foot with arms straight overhead and free leg slightly bent off the ground. Before you begin moving, find your center of gravity and engage your core, as it greatly helps produce stability. Slowly begin raising your free leg as you drop your chest into a flat, tabletop position. Keep your arms above your head for more of a challenge, or reach for the ground if you need more of a stretch through the hamstrings. Be sure to keep your knee of your planted foot slightly bent and avoid an uneven tilt in the hips and back.


For a great workout throughout the rectus abdominus (abs), lower back and glutes, roll out as far as possible on the stability ball. Starting position: On your knees (you may use a pad or mat for comfort) with fingertips touching the edge of the stability ball. Begin by engaging the glutes to support the lower back and keep the body taught. Slowly begin to lower body by rolling the ball out with your hands; keep neck neutrally aligned with your spine. Continue to lower until your body into a flat board or until you cannot go any further. Hold the position for 2 seconds before returning to starting position.

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