With the summer heating up, it’s time to get in shape FAST! The best way to show off your physique is to flatten out your stomach. Here are some excellent moves to do either at home or in the gym.
This is the sort of move that looks so wonky, you sure hope your roommate doesn’t catch you doing it — unless she also gets to see you look stellar in a bathing suit, in which case she just may pull up a chair.
- Sit tall on the edge of a sturdy chair (or step with four risers) and place your hands on the edge with your fingers pointing toward your knees.
- Tighten your abs and bring your toes 2 to 4 inches off the floor. Lift your butt off the chair.
- Hold this position for as long as you can — aim for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Lower yourself down and repeat.
- Continue this exercise for 1 minute.
The Side Crunch
A deceptively difficult move, the side crunch tests your balance while it teases your oblique muscles. (It worked my hips in a way I’ve not felt in a while, too.)
- Kneel on the floor and lean all the way over to your right side, placing your right palm on the floor.
- Keeping your weight balanced, slowly extend your left leg and point your toes.
- Place your left hand behind your head, pointing your elbow toward the ceiling.
- Next, slowly lift your leg to hip height as you extend your arm above your leg, with your palm facing forward.
- Look out over your hand while bringing the left side of your rib cage toward your hip.
- Lower to your starting position and repeat 6 to 8 times.
- Do two sets of 6 to 8 reps, and then switch sides.
A machine- (and accessory-) free Pilates move that afterwards always makes me think 1) “Uh, we sure sounded like we’re doing Lamaze,” and 2) “Wow.”
- Sit tall on the mat with your knees bent by your chest and your hands at your sides.
- Lie down with your knees bent and your palms facing down.
- Exhale and raise your head and shoulders off the mat.
- Vigorously pump your arms 6 inches up and down, reaching with your fingertips.
- Inhale for 5 pumps, then exhale for 5 pumps. Be sure to curl your chin in toward your chest.
- Do 100 pumps, or 10 full breaths.
- Try to keep your lower back pressed in toward the floor and keep your lower abs pulled in toward your spine. You should keep your abs engaged this way throughout the workout.
Opposite Arm and Leg Raise
Done during my workout warm-up, this move makes me feel longer, steadier, and seriously balanced. Thanks, core!
- Begin on all fours, aligning your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders.
- Raise your left arm to shoulder height and your left leg to hip height.
- Hold for 2 counts, reaching forward with your fingers and back with your heels.
- Repeat this exercise on the opposite side.
- Do 15 to 20 reps, alternating sides.
- For a bigger challenge, touch your opposite elbow to your knee as you pull your arm and leg in.
The Prone Plank
A super-simple, do-anywhere move that zips up your abs a la Ms. Stefani. (Fingers crossed.)
- Get into a full pushup position with your palms on the floor beneath your shoulders.
- Hold here for 30 seconds, with your abs contracted and your arms and legs extended and your head aligned with your spine.
- As you build strength, hold this position longer, up to one minute.