Photo: ThinkstockBy Corrie Pikul
Flatten Your Middle
When you slouch, you tilt your pelvis forward, pooching out the tummy and giving the appearance of a thicker midsection. These isometric exercises will help you learn how to strengthen your abdominal and gluteal muscles, says Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. "They act like guide wires to keep you from pressing your pelvis forward and arching your back," he adds.
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Glute Squeeze: Firmly contract your glutes and thighs while standing upright and still. Hold for 10 seconds (remember to breathe!), then relax. Repeat 10 times.
Ab Brace: While standing motionless, tighten your abdominal muscles as if you were anticipating a punch to the stomach. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Do ten of these. They'll smoothe out the appearance of a potbelly while toning and strengthening the abs, Bryant says.
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Photo: ThinkstockLengthen Your Torso
Reaching your full height adds vertical inches while subtracting horizontal ones, says Jennifer Kries, a Pilates master teacher and a fitness and integrated wellness expert. But after spending most of our time bent over laptops, smart phones, and vertically challenged companions (be they children, friends or pets), standing up straight with our shoulders back can almost feel exaggerated. Improve your posture (and avoid puffing out your chest) with this move.
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Shining the Heart Open: For this exercise, stand tall with your heels together and your toes apart in Pilates "tripod stance." Squeeze your inner thighs, quads and glutes. With your hands hanging by your sides, turn your palms to face out so that the pinkie finger is glued to the outer edge of your thigh. This opens the chest and shoulders while strengthening the triceps and upper back, Kries says. Hold for one minute or three deep breaths. Repeat 3 times.
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Photo: Courtesy of Power PlateVibrate Your Muscles into Shape
The Power Plate, found at more than a thousand gyms, rehab clinics and medical centers across the country, has a vibrating platform that causes deep, involuntary muscle contractions 25 to 50 times per second, according to the company. Holding a pose on the Power Plate engages the muscles significantly more than standing on steady ground, says Will Caton, a certified personal trainer who devises Power Plate workouts for celebrities (without dropping names, let's just say that Caton had one of his clients at "hello"). One study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that regular static exercises on the Power Plate strengthened women's legs as well as moderate resistance training did.
Power Plate Squat: Stand on the vibrating plate with your feet hip distance apart and bend your knees until your thighs are perpendicular to the ground. You want to make the muscles burn, Caton says, so hold still for a minute and a half (we felt it after just 30 seconds). Stand up, step off the plate and shake out your legs. Do this 3 times.
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