5 Workout Moves That'll Get You Ready for Strapless/Backless/Any Summer Dresses

Sundresses out, guns out.

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(Image credit: Getty, design by Monica Park)

As we put the finishing touches on our summer bods (whatever those are)—or panic-Google "how to get ab and arm definition in three days," then give up because McDonald's Monopoly is around the corner—now is the time to address the issue of armpit overhang. And any other upper-body bits you might like to tighten up before you must put on a strapless chartreuse bridesmaid's dress for your college roommate's wedding in June or any other of the material-light clothing the sleepless vibes of summer call for.

Below, five sculpting moves courtesy of Carrie Dorr, founder and Chief Barre Officer of Pure Barre.

1. Pushup to Side Plank

Begin in a straight arm plank. Bend elbows lowering into a pushup. Straighten your left arm as you open your chest toward the right, reaching your right arm toward the ceiling into a side plank. Repeat 5-7 times on right side, then 5-7 times on left.

What it does: Strengthens biceps, triceps, deltoids, and pectoral muscles; improves shoulder joint stability through rotator cuff engagement. Meanwhile, the plank tones the abdominal wall, especially the internal and external obliques.

What it means in terms of fashion: You're gonna like the way you look in strapless and halter necklines (and anything with bare arms, honestly). Also hellooo, more bare midriffs than Kendall.


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(Image credit: Christian Vierig)

2. Wide 2nd with Towel

A. Begin in a wide 2nd position, left foot flat, right on toes. Rotate your chest to the right, holding a rolled-up towel with your arms straight.

B. Keeping the towel tight, bend elbows wide, then extend arms back out. Repeat 10 times.

C. Keep arms straight and lift them up and down a few inches. Repeat 10 times.

Repeat moves B and C, then switch legs, rotating your chest to the left.

What it does: Move B tones the corners of the chest (think that annoying roll near the armpit), while Move C strengthens the deltoids and triceps.

What it means in terms of fashion: A smoooooth expanse from shoulder to shining shoulder.

3. Crabs with a Kick (Editor's note: LOL)

Sit with your hands fingers-forward and your arms straight. Bend your elbows. Extend your left arm and right leg, keeping your right arm bent. Replace your right foot and repeat 10 times on same side, then 10 on other.

What it does: Strengthens the triceps, with the deltoids and pectorals assisting the movement. The whole body works in coordination to produce the balance needed with opposite arm and leg extending.

What it means in terms of fashion: Arms: Michelle Obama. The rest of your bod: Michelle Obama in bronze Versace at her final state dinner.

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(Image credit: Getty)

4. Tricep Extension in Lunge with Towel

A. Lunge with left leg bent, right leg straight, chest hinged forward. Hold the towel behind your back with arms straight.

B. Keeping the towel tight, bend elbows a few inches, then return to straight arms. Repeat 10 times.

C. Holding arms straight, slowly lift arms up a few inches then back down. Repeat 10 times.

Repeat moves B and C three times, then switch legs.

What it does: Targets the triceps, while the lunge strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles.

What it means in terms of fashion: You'd look HOT in a bandage dress, if that is what you wanted to wear.

5. Walking Plank

Lower to your forearms in a plank. Place your right hand down, then your left, elbows wide. Lifting to a straight arm plank, return back to a forearm plank by lowering the right forearm, then the left. Lead with right arm 10 times, then 10 with the left.

What it does: Improves shoulder stability; strengthens biceps, triceps, and deltoids; tones the abdominal wall, the back of the trunk, and the gluteal muscles.

What it means in terms of fashion: Wanna go splitsies on this?

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Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at Marie Claire. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.