3 Keys To Building The Best Bikini Body Workout Plan

Oct 25, 2023
Mark Carroll


Are you ready to build your bikini body? Amazing! But let me guess. You are also feeling overwhelmed. Where do you begin to train for this goal? There is a sea of insane amounts of information on social media, often with very conflicting points of view. Despite feeling super motivated to work towards your goals, you may still be trying to figure out what bikini body workout plan to follow.

Wait! Are you also thinking I see so many women speaking about a “bikini body”… what is that? And is it an appropriate goal for you or just a term you have often seen used lately? Let me explain! 

Firstly, what is a bikini body exactly? It depends! For myself, I train women who compete in bikini competitions. Just as you think of “bodybuilding” as big muscular men being judged on their physiques. A bikini competition consists of women who want to look their absolute best for the desired competition requirements. What does this involve? 

A bikini competitor should have the required muscle mass to give their physique the shape judges want. 

They should have low body fat to reveal their muscle mass and definition. 

However, their body fat should not be too low, and their muscle mass should not be too much. The goal is shape! It is a competition that has specific looks the judges are marking for. Oh, and do not forget, unsurprisingly, that the glutes are also a crucial component! Glutes as well as muscles like their quads, hamstrings, and shoulders! 

That’s great and all. But what about women who want to train hard and build their best bodies, whether it’s for themselves to feel fantastic at the beach or on a holiday? 

Here’s the thing! You do not have to compete to want to have the goal of building your best bikini physique. Many of my clients are women who want to look and train like a bikini competitor, with zero interest in getting on stage and competing. This is awesome as well. 

Building YOUR perfect bikini body is subjective! You do not need judges marking you on your physique. You can be the judge and train for you! 

This blog is for women who want to build muscle shape in their physique and feel confident. Whether it’s to compete, go to the beach and feel amazing, or train the house down. Let me show you how to do it successfully. Here’s how I create my programs.

Why do we want to lift weights for a bikini body? 

Before we dive into creating the workout plan, I want to touch on why we worry about a resistance training workout plan. Why lift weights? 

The cool thing about lifting weights is it directly influences the muscle you are training. By training your quads, you are telling your body, “I want to grow you.”

When training for fat loss and eating in a calorie deficit, you cannot choose directly where to lose fat mass. But you CAN directly choose where you build muscle from! 

Often, when working with clients, I have women tell me they want to look like a specific previous client. Often, they will send me photos as their inspiration. And say, “She has the body I aspire to have; how do I get skinny like that?”.

But what they often do not realise is that the clients who have the glutes, the muscle definition and shape when they are lean, have it due to their muscle mass.

Muscle gives you curves! Muscle gives you the shape you want in your desired places. This is why lifting weights and an effective program matters so much! Because it is you directly choosing what muscles you want to develop. Resistance training is the critical base for your bikini body. Hence, why we prioritise it.

Factors to consider when creating an effective bikini body workout plan

A workout plan does not just consist of randomly picking a few exercises and hoping for the best. It is about strategy and knowing what our goal is. When creating the best plan for a bikini client, I want to focus on a few key steps that we will go through. 

1 – Correct exercise selection for the goal 

2 – How to structure the week of training to distribute the exercises 

3 – Understanding the specific rep ranges required for the training goal

Get these three steps correct, and you will be on your way to building the best bikini prep workout plan, leading to amazing results!

Step 1 – Understanding the exercises for each key movement pattern

Building the best workout plan for a bikini body first requires us to understand what areas of the body we want to develop. Remember, it is not just about building as much muscle as possible. But instead, building muscle in the right places gives the physique more shape where we need it. 

This means muscles like the glutes are crucial for the lower body to stand out, and the upper body having a well-developed set of shoulders can make the waist appear visually leaner. 

We also want a balanced physique, which means muscle in all areas, but we can still have a priority focus. This is why it is essential to train your whole body to some degree while focusing more on critical areas as needed. Keep in mind though, when initially building your training base, focusing on whole-body development is always an ideal strategy. The more you advance, the more you can worry about focusing on specific problem areas down the line.

There are so many exercises to choose from in the gym, but how do you know which is best for your goals? A sure way to do this is to focus on ensuring you are choosing an exercise for each key movement pattern.

By doing this, we can ensure we target all the necessary muscle groups. We don’t need to target every movement pattern in every workout, but focusing on the big key ones will be ideal for laying the foundation for your future shape. It’s all about base building your bikini body!

Let’s look at key movement patterns for the lower body and upper body areas that we want to target over the week of training. I like clients to use the movement pattern and a few exercises for each movement.

Lower Body Movement Patterns

Hip hinge – Romanian deadlifts, back extensions, good mornings

Knee dominant – squats, split squats, lunges

Thrust – hip thrust, glute bridges

Knee flexion – lying and seated leg curls 

Abduction – seated machine abductions, cable straight leg abductions, banded abductions

Upper Body Movement Patterns

Vertical push – overhead barbell press, dumbbell shoulder press, lateral raises

Horizontal push – flat bench press, push-ups, pec deck

Vertical pull – lat pulldowns, chin-ups, pull-ups

Horizontal pull – seated row, barbell bent over row, chest-supported dumbbell rows

Spinal flexion – crunches, rope crunches, reverse crunches

This only covers some of the exercises out there! But it is a fantastic starting point for you. Our goal should be to ensure we perform 1-2 exercises for each movement pattern over a training program. 

Feeling a little overwhelmed? I know! That is a lot of exercise. Don’t stress! it’s simple once you have a framework to put it all together! We will get to this! 

Step 2 – Putting the exercises together

You might now be asking, “​​How do we put these exercises all together?” Our next step is understanding how to incorporate the exercises into your training week. We do not want to do all of the exercises in a single workout of course, or you will spend 3 hours in the gym each session….Not what we want! 

We want to divide the training volume over our week. 

A great starting point is to create what we call a training split

A split is a simple way to distribute your exercises over the week.

When building a bikini body workout plan, I love breaking up the total amount of exercises into“lower body” and “upper body” days. 

Lower body = glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves 

Upper body = shoulders, back, chest, biceps, triceps, abs

Example Workout Plan for Lower Body

How would this look?

For the “Lower Body” workout plan, we will choose one exercise for each key movement pattern. 

For example, using our previously mentioned exercise criteria, we will want one exercise for each of these movements. 

  • Hip hinge 
  • Squat 
  • Knee flexion
  • Thrust
  • Abduction 

An example workout using this framework for choosing one exercise from each of these would be:

1. Romanian Deadlift (hip hinge)

2. Walking Lunge (knee dominant)

3. Seated Leg Curl (knee flexion)

4. Glute Bridge (thrust)

5. Seated abduction – banded or machine (abduction)

Simple right? Now, we have the basics of a great bikini body workout. 

Despite the overwhelming nature of endless exercise choices, we can simplify things! Just by focusing on ensuring we choose an exercise for each movement pattern, we can easily create an intelligent workout that covers all our lower body needs. 

Example Workout Plan for Upper Body

What about the upper body?

Simple! We can use the concept I showed above with the lower body workout plan and create the workout again with one exercise for each upper body movement pattern. 

Upper body movement patterns include: 

  • Vertical push
  • Horizontal push
  • Vertical pull
  • Horizontal pull
  • Spinal flexion

An example upper body workout would look like this:

1. Seated Dumbbell Overhead Shoulder Press (vertical press)

2. Push-ups (horizontal press)

3. Lat Pulldown (vertical pull)

4. Seated Row (horizontal pull) 

5. Rope Crunches (spinal flexion) 

Again, easy! You have created an effective upper-body bikini workout plan covering all our fundamental movement patterns. Remember! A bikini body does not mean you need massive muscle mass; therefore, doing 5 different exercises per muscle group in a workout is unnecessary.

The goal is to target all the key muscle groups! This is where you begin to create shape to your physique!

Training At Home?

If you’re training at home, you can adjust your bikini body workout plan at home. Simply choose the exercises available at your home gym!

Weekly Training Split

Now, what about the training split? How does this then look as a weekly workout plan?

With the example workouts created, let me show you a weekly training split to disperse the training volume further:

Monday – Lower Body 1 

Tuesday – Upper Body 1 

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Lower Body 2 (a similar workout structure but different exercises)

Friday – Upper Body 2 (same as above) 

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Rest 

We have 4 days of weight training a week, plus 3 full rest days. You do not need to lift weights or train every day! In fact, rest and recovery are essential to building muscle.

This is a great starting point for your bikini workout plan! 

So far, we have covered the essential exercises to choose from. We looked at how to create a workout with those exercises. Then, finally, we saw how to put it all together over a training week! 

We are getting close to having the best workout plan for your bikini goals! Almost there!

Step 3 – Choosing rep ranges for the exercises

How many reps should we be lifting? Great question! Yes, choosing the correct exercises for our goal is important, but that’s just one component. We also need to lift sufficient weights to build muscle. So, how many reps do we need to be doing? 

The most straightforward answer is that there is no one specific rep number, which is a must, or that you cannot deviate from. Muscle building can come from an extensive range of reps. 

Reps as low as 3-5 have been shown to produce the same muscle mass as reps in the 10-12 range, and all the way up to 25 reps have been shown effective for hypertrophy! 

What does this all mean? A lot of different rep ranges will all work and do the job! You have plenty of options! 

Great! But which one should YOU be doing?

Primarily, I target a middle ground. The cons of very low reps are that you must always use very heavy weights. Performing just 3-4 reps is only suited to some exercises. Low reps = more weight needs to be lifted! Sometimes a great thing, sometimes not. 

For example, 3-4 reps on a squat is fine, while 3-4 reps on a crunch is not so ideal. The cons of really high reps are that if you are doing a set of say, 30 reps on the squat, by the end of the set, the exercise feels less like resistance training and more like a cardio workout due to total body fatigue. 

Ideally, we want to localise the fatigue as much as possible to the desired muscle group to optimise building muscle in that area. We don’t want our weight training to turn into cardio.

This is why a rep range of around 5-15 is a great place to be for the most part. 

A really easy way to choose the appropriate reps for an exercise is to choose slightly lower reps for your more significant compound exercise like a squat, Romanian deadlift, or pull-ups. Compound exercises are what we refer to as “multi-joint” movements, meaning more than one joint is performing the movement. Think of a push-up where the shoulder and elbow joint are required to execute the pushup. 

In contrast, an isolation exercise is when only one joint is required, such as doing a biceps curl. Choose a slightly higher rep range for isolation exercises such as leg curls, lateral raises, and direct arm work. Please note this is not a fixed rule, but rather a good starting point to get you going. 

The key takeaway here should be that very low reps and high reps can both work to build muscle. For various reasons, choosing a more middle-ground approach of 5-15 reps is the most logical and straightforward.

Over time, regardless of whether we are performing 5 reps or 15 reps, we should be striving to increase the weight we can achieve for those desired reps. We always want to get stronger, no matter what the rep range looks like. Progressing load on the bar is what will ultimately lead to muscle growth. 


The best bikini workout plan will always start with choosing the correct exercises for the goal. A house builder needs to select the correct tools for the correct job. Same thing here! Resistance training is also about choosing the appropriate tool (exercise) for the right training goal. We want to ensure we are ticking all the boxes of what you aim to develop. 

A bikini physique does not need a considerable amount of muscle mass but rather just enough in the key places to give you more shape when you are lean. Muscle mass = curves! 

An effective bikini prep workout does not require an unlimited amount of advanced and unique methods, or endless training volume in one area. Rather, a nice balance of exercises for most of the body, plus a slightly greater emphasis on the glutes and shoulders is what’s needed.

Once you have the chosen exercises, creating your bikini workout plan over the week becomes more achievable by utilising a training split of both lower body-focused and upper body-focused days. 

Dividing the training volume further creates a simple structure for creating an effective program and helping you choose the correct exercises for the week. 

Then, finally, you can use a variety of reps to grow your muscle mass. This makes hypertrophy training enjoyable, as you have many options to choose from to reach the goal. I suggest you aim to have most of your sets within 5-15 reps for simplicity! 

Oh, and remember, always strive to add some weight to each exercise every few weeks! Strength gains predominantly tend to lead to muscle gains over time!

Congratulations! You now have the key initial steps to building your workout plan to develop your best bikini body. Whether you aim to get on stage one day, or just train like a boss in the gym because you love it!

Ready to transform your body and achieve that dream bikini look? Start your journey today with our Bikini Body Workout Series. Click here to get started and unlock your full potential!

Good luck,