updated 02/11/2013 AT 9:00 PM ET
•originally published 02/12/2013 AT 7:00 AM ET
Kate Upton’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover is very hot – but during her photo shoot in Antarctica, all the model could think about was the freezing cold.
“It was definitely the hardest shoot I’ve ever done,” Upton, 20, tells PEOPLE. “The best as well – Antarctica is one of the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. But I’m from Florida, so it was pretty painful.”
“Everything about the picture is perfect,” Swimsuit Issue editor MJ Day tells PEOPLE. “The light, the background, the suit. It’s different from what we’ve done in past years, and it was an exciting moment for us to have those photos work out.”