Photo: Physique 57By Corrie Pikul
The Move: Swivel Chair
"This was one of our go-tos for getting our own abs back into pre-pregnancy shape," says Tanya Becker, a founder of Physique 57, a boutique fitness class that combines ballet, Pilates and isometrics. She and co-founder Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi both used this move to trim down after giving birth, and they now recommend it to women with weak abdominal muscles due a recent baby, a not-so-recent baby or 9 months of nights at your desk.
1. Stand a forearm's distance away from a waist-high sturdy piece of furniture, with your feet, knees and thighs together. Lightly place your hands a bit wider than your shoulders on the furniture.
2. With your upper body facing forward, rotate both feet and hips to point toward your right hand. Lift your heels and bend your knees over your toes, lowering your body five or six inches.
3. Bend deeper and pulse down and up. Remember to keep your abs engaged, your posture lifted with your shoulders stacked over your hips and your tailbone pointing toward your heels.
Reps: 15 slow pulses and 30 quick pulses
Bonus: From the same starting position, tuck your hips forward and back 30 times to target your glutes and the hard-to-reach lower abs.
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Photo: Physique 57The Move: Folded L
"This is a fantastic seat exercise that relies less on upper-body strength and places a deeper focus on your core," says Becker.
1. Place one forearm over the other on your piece of furniture and lean forward so that your head rests on them. Walk your feet back so that they're directly under your hips.
2. Soften both knees and then draw your right heel up toward your seat, pointing your toes.
3. Lift and lower your right leg about two to three inches.
Reps: 45 seconds to one minute on each leg
Bonus: Extend your leg to sculpt your hamstring and create an extra challenge for your core.
Photo: Watch It Now/Pop PhysiqueThe Move: Relevé
In a study from the University of Louisville, people perceived women who were standing up straight to be thinner than those who were slumping--even when the slouchers weighed 20 pounds less on the scale. Train yourself to stand straighter with this move from Jennifer Williams, a former professional ballet dancer and creator of the fitness program Pop Physique.
1. Stand with your heels together and your toes pointed out. Place your arms in a circle in front of your chest with your palms facing your body.
2. Slowly lift up on to the balls of your feet.
3. Exhale and pull your belly button in and up--as if it's tracing the capital letter "L." Hold for two counts.
4. Keep the torso lifted as you slowly lower your heels. Pretend that an invisible force is making it difficult for you to come down and you need to work against the resistance.
5. Pause for two counts, then repeat.
Reps: One to two minutes (or 15 counts of eight)
Bonus: Lift and lower your arms when you rise up and down.
Photo: Watch It Now/Pop PhysiqueThe Move: 2nd-Position Plié
You'll quickly feel this in the seat and the thighs, but to maximize the stomach-flattening, focus on keeping the abdominal muscles engaged, says Williams.
1. Step your feet two and a half feet apart (or wider than your hips) and turn out your toes.
2. Place your hands on your hips and roll your shoulders back.
3. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
4. Tuck your tailbone under and pull the abs in and up, tracing the letter "L" with your belly button.
5. Pulse down one inch, up one inch (that's one rep). Keep the moves small and controlled and the back straight and tall.
Bonus: Lift one heel up a few inches for two counts, then lower and lift the other heel.
Photo: ThinkstockThe Move: Standing Oblique Strengthener
Chicago-based health and fitness coach Traci D. Mitchell loves this move because it's simple, effective and doesn't require any special equipment (or much floor space).
1. Plant your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Grab a heavy object, like a gallon of water.
3. Tighten your core and lift the object with both hands, keeping your arms straight out in front of you.
4. While keeping your hips stable, slowly move the object to the left, then to the right (that's one rep).
Reps: Three sets of 20
Bonus: When facing forward between twists, do one squat.
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Photo: Physique 57By Corrie Pikul