The Healthy Bride: Recipes for a Toned Back + a Tropical Treat

Fitness expert Jen Raymond shares 3 back blasting bridal workouts, plus a bonus exercise!

A toned back brings better posture and more confidence when walking down the aisle, especially if you choose to go with the trending backless wedding gowns we're seeing everywhere. Here are a few of my favorite exercises to help ensure you look and feel fit from every angle. You'll need a pair of dumbbells and a stability ball.

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1. Stability Ball Back Extensions

This works your erector spinae (lower back muscles), which not only strengthens the low back but also works the glutes and the hamstring muscles, making for a better backside.

Lie facedown on a stability ball and position the balls of your feet on the floor and your heels on a wall to hold your body in place. Your upper thighs should be over the ball, leaving enough room for you to bend at the waist. Keep your back flat, inhale as you bend slowly at the waist without rounding your back. Go down as far as you can without losing form. Slowly raise your torso back to the initial position as you exhale and hold for two seconds at the top.

Trainer Tip: Keep your spine in a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone. Add weight, as you get stronger!

2. Upright Row

The bent over row works your back in general and also lots of synergist muscles for a more bang-for-the-buck workout. This move will strengthen the back and pull the shoulders back for better posture as well.

Start with a pair of dumbbells and your feet hip width apart. Bend at the waist, keeping a flat back and slight bend in the knees. Hold the dumbbells out in front of you, engage your abs, and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring the weights to the sides of your chest.

Trainer Tip: Keep your elbows in and pointed upward.

*Kick it up a notch with a Renegade Row: Place two dumbbells on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Start in the top position of pushup position with your hands on the weights. Row one weight up towards the side of your body while balancing on your other hand and feet. Repeat on the other side.

Trainer Tip: Keep your body tight and in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.

3. Seated Reverse Flyes

This move targets the upper back and the shoulders creating a defined upper back and working the abs as well.

Grab a set of dumbbells and sit on the end of a flat bench with your knees together. Place the dumbbells in front of your feet. Lean over as far as you can go. Grasp the dumbbells with your palms facing inward and pick them up off the floor. While keeping your arms slightly bent and rotating at the shoulders only, slowly raise the dumbbells up, following a semi-circle path. Raise them as high as they can go, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pause, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.

Perfect Protein Tropical Treat: Lemon Coconut Protein Balls

This easy-to-make, easy-to-eat treat is perfect for winter. Pop 2 after your workout!

Ingredients:

½ cup almond flour

2 scoops vanilla protein powder

1 ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (set aside ½ cup)

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil (melted)

1 tablespoon organic honey

dash of vanilla

sprinkle of sea salt

Directions:

Put all ingredients except ½ cup of coconut into a food processor or mix by hand thoroughly.

Gently toast the ½ cup coconut over low/medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat once it is golden brown (Be careful, it can burn quickly!)

Using a spoon, scoop out mixture and roll into a ball. Finish by rolling in the toasted coconut. Place in the refrigerator to set.