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The Little Black Dress Workout for Your Big Night Out

author image Andrea Speir
Pilates instructor Andrea Speir is the star of two top-selling DVDs, “Trim, Tighten and Tone” (2014) and “Perfect Pilates Body” (2013). Speir Pilates, her first studio, is located in Santa Monica, CA and fuses classical Pilates with modern cardio and intense circuit training.

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The Little Black Dress Workout for Your Big Night Out
Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

Alright, it’s time to dust off that short little cocktail dress and feel like a million bucks as you enjoy delicious food and drink with friends. To get yourself feeling sexy and svelte for your upcoming party, there are a few exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home. These eight exercises will sculpt your legs and booty for the short dresses, tone your arms for the sleeveless dresses and flatten and define your abs for the tight dresses. Follow along with Speir Pilates instructor Alyssa Mandell Sparks. All you need is a mat or a soft, carpeted area and an eye on the prize.

1. Single-Leg Plie Pulses
Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

1 Single-Leg Plie Pulses

This seemingly simple exercise will strengthen and tone every part of your legs while it sculpts and lifts your booty. Bonus: Working these larger muscles helps improve metabolic function (which you’ll need when you see that holiday cheese plate) and improve circulation and sleep. HOW TO DO THEM: Step your feet out wider than your hips with your feet pointed out. Open your arms to the side and lower into a squat by bending your knees. Pulse your body up and down a few inches. Make sure your knees are opening out wide, using your glutes to keep them in line with your feet. Do 20 pulses on each leg.

Related: A Pilates Instructor’s Secrets to Long, Lean Legs

2. Plie Jumps
Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

2 Plie Jumps

This is such a great (and fun) way to build long, lean, toned legs while also getting an effective burst of cardio. HOW TO DO THEM: Stay in that wide, turned-out position from the plié pulses, but bring your hands to your hips. Bend your knees and lower into squat. Jump up as high as possible, engaging your core. Point your toes as you jump, and land by rolling through the feet (from toe to ball to heel). You never want to land flat-footed. Lower back down into a squat. Do 20 seconds of jumping followed by 10 seconds of rest. Perform three rounds.

3. One-Leg Bridge
Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

3 One-Leg Bridge

This exercise targets the muscles all along your backside, which will give you an instant butt-lift (great for those tight dresses). HOW TO DO IT: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat and hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Extend one leg up toward the ceiling. Roll your hips up, keeping them level. Lower and lift your hips 10 times. Then switch sides, bringing the other leg up. Concentrate on actively engaging (or tightening) your glutes. You want your booty muscles tight the entire time, never releasing as you lower down in your pulse.

4. Swan Dive
Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

4 Swan Dive

This move safely strengthens and elongates all the muscles of the back. It’ll give you that great, sexy, defined look in a low-back dress. It’s also one of the most fun ways to work your back muscles. Always finish this exercise in Child’s pose. It’s a lot of back and core strengthening, and after any spinal extension, it’s good to give your body a moment to round out in a counterstretch. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your stomach with your legs together and your palms under your armpits. Straighten your arms to lift your torso off the ground; the hips remain on the floor. Release and shoot your hands forward, letting your chest dive down as you lift your legs up behind you. Push back up as your legs lower. Remain in the arched-back position and roll back and forth on your belly for 10 seconds.

Related: A 20-Minute Stress-Busting Pilates Routine

5. Push-Up Side Plank
Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

5 Push-Up Side Plank

This is one of the best full-body exercises -- defining and sculpting your arms, shoulders and back, targeting the bra-fat bulge, tightening your core, cinching your waist and even working your legs and booty. HOW TO DO IT: Start in a push-up position. Do one push-up. Once back at the top, turn your body to the right in a side plank, reaching the right arm up toward the ceiling. Hold for five seconds. Return back to plank. Do one push-up. Then turn to the left and hold five seconds. Deepen your focus on the core muscles throughout: Your form is controlled by your abdominals, so no arched, slouched backs! Repeat 10 times.

6. Dancing Triceps
Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

6 Dancing Triceps

Strengthen and tone your triceps so you can show them off in a pretty, sleeveless dress. This exercise also works the muscles deep in your core, improving circulation and defining your back and shoulders. HOW TO DO IT: Sit with your knees bent and feet hip-distance apart. Your hands are behind you with the fingertips pointing toward you. Lift your hips up toward the ceiling and shift your weight back toward your hands. Lift and then lower one leg. As you lift that leg back up, bend at the elbows and lower body. Lower your leg and straighten your arms. Continue this motion for 10 reps on each leg. Go with flow on this: The quick pace will help you get the groove. Concentrate on hugging the elbows in toward each other.

7. Lower Lift
Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

7 Lower Lift

This is the “muffin-top melter” because it directly targets that tricky lower-abdominal region by tightening and toning. HOW TO DO IT: Lie flat on your back with straight legs pressed together and extended up toward the ceiling. Curl up your head and chest, stacking the hands palm over palm behind your head. Lower your legs toward the floor, and then lift them back up. Repeat 15 times. Only lower the legs as far as you can without your back arching or your abdominals popping out. Focus on all the action coming from your lower abs -- right below your belly button.

8. Teaser
Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

8 Teaser

This classic Pilates move is famous for it’s abdominal-shaping abilities. It flattens, chisels and sculpts every single part of your midsection. HOW TO DO IT: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent in toward your chest. Curl up your head and chest. Extend your legs to a 45-degree angle as you curl up and reach for your toes. Lower your upper body part of the way down. Curl back up to a seated V position. Repeat lowering and lifting the upper body 10 times. Keep a round shape in your core muscles, as if there is a bowling ball on your stomach. If your back goes flat or arches, your core doesn’t work and you’ll lose your balance. This one is all about focus!

Related: 19 Ab-Sculpting Pilates Moves You Can Do at Home

What Do YOU Think?
Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

What Do YOU Think?

Do you have a party coming up? Or any other event where you’ll be wearing a cocktail dress? What’s your preparatory workout plan look like? Add these moves into your daily routine and you will be ready for that grand entrance in no time. Remember: Consistency is key! And be sure to join in the conversation in the comments below.

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