You've picked the date, found the perfect wedding venue, and have the dress narrowed down to your top three. Now it's time to nail down your wedding workout plan to help you feel and look your best for your big day.
Ideally, your wedding fitness routine should start at least six months out, says holistic nutritionist Sally Pansing Kravich. “Do not do the last-minute super training, starvation, and goal setting of getting into a dress that is possibly too small,” she says. “Start ahead of time with a healthy diet and exercise program that will give you strength, flexibility, glowing skin, and energy that makes you feel fabulous inside and out.”
Ahead, Kravich, along with fitness expert Sarah Louise Rector and holistic health specialist Kimberley Carruthers, share their wedding workout tips—including a 12-month wedding workout timeline.
Meet the Expert
- Sally Pansing Kravich holds an M.S. in Holistic Nutrition and has completed graduate Ph.D. studies in holistic healing and nutrition. She is the author of Vibrant Living-Creating Radiant Health & Longevity.
- Sarah Louise Rector is an internationally recognized fitness expert and CAFS certified trainer based in Los Angeles, and founder of the on-demand fitness program The SLR Life.
- Kimberley Carruthers is a certified celebrity Pilates instructor, lifestyle wellness coach, personal trainer, and holistic health specialist based in Los Angeles.
Wedding Workout Tips
Planning your wedding is an exciting time, but it can be easy to get stuck on thinking everything needs to be perfect. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in that. Instead, enjoy this time and focus on changes you can make now to look and feel your healthiest. Here are a few tips to help you meet your goals:
“If it seems daunting to you, start out small and don't overwhelm yourself," Rector advises. "Start with a 10-minute full-body workout and, before you know it, you will have the ability and strength to do a full-hour session without having to drag yourself through the process." Consider your workout your “me time” that benefits not only your body but your mind, too. It also could be fun to work out with your bridesmaids as you can all hold each other accountable. She continues, “A workout session should feel like self-care to you and always have you finishing with a smile, a sense of accomplishment, and a huge confidence boost."
Mix Cardio and Strength Training
Your workout plan should consist of cardio—Rector loves dance aerobics, but HIIT (high-intensity interval training), Pilates, or spin classes are also good options—and strengthening exercises. As many wedding dresses show off your upper body, also focus on exercises to tone your back and arms. The AKT program offers dance, yoga, Pilates, and strength-training intervals all in one epic jam session.
“On your wedding day, it's all about the way you hold yourself to show off the fabulous dress you've always dreamed about,” says Rector. “I love strengthening exercises that create stronger and leaner muscles that not only aesthetically curate a healthy figure, but also a sense of elegance.”
Target Your Core
In addition, it is important to incorporate exercises like squats or lunges to strengthen your legs, and core exercises to sculpt your waist. “To perfect your silhouette, target the curve of the waistline by incorporating some fun core exercises, such as side planks and dance cardio moves with oblique twists,” she says.
Wedding Workout Plan Timeline
“Preparation, organizing, and sticking to your schedule are key to being successful,” says Carruthers. “Full-body workouts are known to be the most dynamic way to get into shape.” Below, a timeline of workouts and nutrition tips to help you look and most importantly, feel your best before walking down the aisle.
12 Months Out
With one year until the big day, you've got enough time to gently transition into a workout routine. Motivation is high, and you may be eager to jump into a fitness plan, but shocking the body with strenuous movement sequences is counterintuitive. Like rushing into a workout without warming up, you risk debilitating soreness or injury that will only delay results. Start slowly by incorporating low-impact movement into your daily routine. Walks are a great way to do this. If you're taking the dog out, be intentional about gradually increasing the distance, speed, or frequency of the walks to build both muscles and stamina.
Learning to stretch will also set you up for success. Try melting into a yoga practice several times a week. This will not only help tired muscles recover faster and prevent injury, but can help with your headspace as you tackle wedding-related tasks. Sky Ting Yoga offers live Zoom classes and a library of practices online.
Nine Months Out
The best workout is one you actually enjoy doing, so start experimenting with different fitness techniques to find what you like. We all know the hardest part of a workout is starting, if you already love what you're doing you can concentrate your energy on completing the class—not using up all your resources to get going in the first place. Try a wide range of options, and see what aspects you like and dislike about each. Let the process guide you to other workouts with the same foundations. If a high-octane approach fuels you, consider joining a spin class or run club. If deep, intentional movements are more your style give barre or reformer workouts a go.
Six Months Out
This is the time to get on an exercise schedule that you will stick to for the next six months. Try to block out around an hour, so you can focus on both cardio and strength; however, you can determine how much of that time is spent on each type of exercise.
“A combination of light cardio and body-toning moves are great and can be done every day as long as you always listen to your body,” Rector explains. Whether it is 45 minutes of HIIT and 15 minutes of strengthening or 10 minutes of cardio and 50 minutes using weight machines, the important thing is to get some movement in.
Carruthers gives the following cardio options to incorporate into your routine:
- 30-minute jog, run, or fast walk
After your cardio workout, it's time to strengthen and tone your body. Carruthers says squats are her go-to exercise as they work the entire lower body, including hamstrings, glutes, and quads, and can be done anywhere. Alomoves offers online programs with categories from HIIT and Pilates to strength training and breath work.
A resistance band or dumbbells are great tools for strengthening at home or at the gym.
Lastly, don’t forget your core. “This is where my secret weapon comes into play—The Pilates Five Sequence,” she says. This series of mat pilates exercises work to strengthen and sculpt the core and consists of a straight-leg stretch, double-leg stretch, single straight-leg stretch, double straight-leg lower lift, and crisscross.
From a nutrition standpoint, it is time to focus on clean eating. “Eliminate all sugar, sodas, and white flour products,” says Kravich. Increase your intake of non-carbonated flat water, and add in a supplement. She adds, “Take B complex, probiotics, fish oil, amla, spirulina, and biotin. These will support your skin, hair, nervous system, and brain.”
Four Months Out
At this point, you should continue with your full-body workouts, ramping it up to four or five times a week of cardio and toning exercises. And in addition to the cardio options mentioned above, add in some upper-body toning using light weights, says Rector. “Focus on a mix of slow and controlled moves to target the biceps, triceps, shoulders, upper back, and decolletage for definition and strength,” she shares.
She also recommends using light hand weights (around 2 to 3 pounds) to tone up and sculpt your arms versus higher weights that build muscle mass. Do exercises including overhead arm presses, extended weighted slow-paced arm circles, bicep curls, and reverse arm extensions. “I have some great five-minute arms exercises on my on-demand platform that work absolute wonders,” she adds.
From a nutrition and wellness standpoint, Kravich says now is the time to start getting monthly facials and dry brush your body to help eliminate toxins. Continue to avoid white flour, sugar, and sodas, and start drinking green juices three times per week. “A glass of fresh veggie juice will make your skin glow and give you the added energy you need when under fire,” she explains.
Two Months Out
“With only two months to go, this is when your stress level will likely be at an all-time high,” says Carruthers. “During this time it is very important to focus on your stress level and maintenance.”
Continue with your full-body cardio and strength training four to five times per week, including the Pilates Five to work your core. It is also a good time to add in Rector’s suggestion of a cardio dance class—this is a great way to get your heart rate up, burn calories, and release happy endorphins. “I know from training brides the pressure that they feel to look perfect on their big wedding day. That's why I highly suggest this type of fun cardio workout, as opposed to boot camp or drill sergeant type training,” she says.
When it comes to dance cardio, you can come up with your own moves (think dancing around in your living room to your favorite playlist!) or look for cardio dance classes online or at your gym.
Continue with your clean diet of avoiding white flour, soda, and excessive sugar, and cut down on or eliminate alcohol as well. Drink antioxidant-rich green juice five times a week, and continue with your supplements as mentioned above. “At this point, the skin could use a detox, so take liver cleansing herbs,” Kravich advises. “Liver cleansing herbs contain dandelion, turmeric, milk thistle, artichoke, and beetroot. You can take a few individually or in a blend.”
In terms of wellness, Kravich says to book a massage for stress relief and to continue with your facials and dry brushing. Also, make sure you are getting plenty of rest. “Listen to a meditation app at night before sleep,” she suggests.
One Month Out
Only one month to go! You should continue exercising four to five times per week as instructed above, but at this stage, Carruthers says to mix up your routine with a kickboxing class or a tai chi workout to help alleviate stress. “This is not the time to overdo it and cause yourself an injury,” she shares.
Continue to avoid excess sugar. alcohol, and processed foods, drink your green smoothies, and take your supplements. “Determine your food needs, Kravich says. "If you need more brainpower, eat eggs and salmon. If you need more strength and stamina, eat red meat. If you need to calm your tummy, eat plant-based foods."
One Week Out
With one week to go, you should see the benefits of your workouts and healthy eating. Be proud of all you have accomplished! Continue with your workouts four to fives time this week, but don’t burn yourself out, says Rector. If you feel stressed, switch up a HIIT class for a yoga session.
Consider adding calcium-rich foods, such as salmon or leafy vegetables, into your dinner or taking a supplement. “When we are stressed, there is a tendency to not sleep well, so it's important to take calcium at bedtime for a good night's sleep,” says Kravitch. “After all, we do need our beauty rest to replenish as this will affect the look of your skin!”
Day of Wedding
You made it! The hard work has paid off. You may have a few wedding-day nerves, as expected, so, if you have time and want to exercise, a 10-minute run or dance cardio session may be the perfect way to release some of that energy, says Rector. "All the hard work has been done, so this little session should be the self-care you need for your wedding morning."
Don’t forget to fuel up with healthy food to keep your energy high! “Have avocado toast on Ezekiel bread with some lemon on top. This will keep your tummy and brain full,” says Kravich. “During hair and makeup, drink green juice and eat fruit to keep it light.”
Enjoy this wonderful time and be proud of all you have accomplished in the last 12 months. And even after the wedding and honeymoon have passed, continue with these healthy habits to maintain that newlywed glow.