December 3, 2023

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The Ultimate Wedding Workout Plan

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.

According to holistic nutritionist Sally Pansing Kravich, your wedding fitness routine should start at least six months before tying the knot in order to avoid any unhealthy routines. “Do not do the last-minute super training, starvation, and goal setting of getting into a dress that is possibly too small,” she explains. “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.” But that’s not all!

Ahead, Kravich, along with fitness expert Sarah Louise Rector and holistic health specialist Kimberley Carruthers, share their wedding workout tips and secrets, including a 12-month wedding workout timeline for every type of bride.

Meet the Expert

  • Sally Pansing Kravich holds an M.S. in Holistic Nutrition and a Ph.D. in holistic healing and nutrition. She is also 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. She is also the 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.

The Best Pre-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. Instead of trying to control every small detail, however, enjoy this time and focus on attainable changes you can make to look and feel your healthiest.

More specifically, to help you meet your fitness goals, here are a few pre-wedding workout tips, as highlighted by Rector.

Start Small

“If [working out] 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.”

What’s more, think of your workout as your designating “me time”—a special moment where you can get both your body and mind right. “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,” Rector adds.

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. Since many wedding dresses show off your upper body, it’s also helpful to engage in exercises that tone your back and arms. The AKT program, for example, 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

It is absolutely 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,” Rector notes.

The Ultimate Wedding Workout Plan

“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.” With this in mind, we put together a timeline of workouts and nutrition tips to help you look and, most importantly, feel your best before walking down the aisle.

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12 Months Out

With one year until the big day, you’ve got enough time to gently transition into a workout routine. Though motivation will be high, and you may be eager to jump into a fitness plan, it’s recommended that you start working out slowly by incorporating low-impact movement into your daily routine. For example, 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.

Like rushing into a workout without warming up, rushing into a workout with strenuous movement sequences will shock the body and produce counterintuitive results.

Learning to stretch will also set you up for success. For instance, 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.

9 Months Out

The best workout is one you actually enjoy doing, so start experimenting with different fitness techniques to find what you like. Our best piece of advice? Try a wide range of options and see what aspects you like and dislike about each. You can even let the process guide you to other workouts with the same foundations. For example, if a high-octane approach fuels you, consider joining a spin class or run club. If deep, intentional movements are more your style, however, give barre or reformer workouts a go.

6 Months Out

This is the time to get on an exercise schedule that you will stick to for the next six months. More specifically, you should try to block out around an hour to focus on both cardio and strength exercises. Whether it is 45 minutes of HIIT and 15 minutes of strengthening or 10 minutes of cardio and 50 minutes using weight machines, finding a routine that works best for you will set you up for success.

“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. Carruthers further notes that squats are her go-to exercise as they work the entire lower body—including hamstrings, glutes—and quads, and can be done anywhere.

Lastly, don’t forget about your core. “This is where my secret weapon comes into play—The Pilates Five Sequence,” Carruthers 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.

A resistance band or dumbbells are great tools for strengthening at home or at the gym.

From a nutrition standpoint, this halfway point is the time to focus on clean eating. “Eliminate all sugar, sodas, and white flour products,” says Kravich. Also, increase your intake of non-carbonated flat water, and add in a supplement like “B complex, probiotics, fish oil, amla, spirulina, and biotin,” shares Kravich. “These will support your skin, hair, nervous system, and brain.”

Logan Weaver / Unsplash

5 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. In addition to the cardio options mentioned above, Rector also highlights that brides should add some upper-body toning using light weights. “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 further recommends using light hand weights (around two to three pounds) to tone up and sculpt your arms versus higher weights that build muscle mass. “I have some great five-minute arms exercises on my on-demand platform that work absolute wonders,” she adds.

As for nutrition and wellness, Kravich says now is the time to start getting monthly facials and leaning into dry brushing to help your body 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.

2 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.”

As for workouts, continue with your full-body cardio and strength training four to five times per week, including the Pilates Five to work your core. It’s also a good time to add in Rector’s suggestion of a cardio dance class, as 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.

Be sure to also 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.

Logan Weaver / Unsplash

1 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.”

1 Week Out

With one week to go, you should see the benefits of your workouts and healthy eating. Most importantly, be proud of all you have accomplished! Continue with your workouts four to five times this week, but don’t burn yourself out, says Rector. If you feel stressed, switch up a HIIT class for a yoga session.

Nutrition-wise, consider adding calcium-rich foods, such as salmon or leafy vegetables, into your dinner or take 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

Congratulations, 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, as well. “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.