You don’t have a love-hate relationship with side flab—you want it gone. Here, the moves that help you nix it for good.
I have to admit that ever since I gave birth to my son, Timothy, my midsection has changed—my sides are a little softer than I’d like. I think some of that has to do with not being able to perform certain yoga moves on my belly while I was pregnant.
Our first instinct when working on our abs and waist is to concentrate on our front, but to truly firm up our entire midsection, we need to focus on our back, too. Have you ever noticed how chiseled swimmers’ abs are? It’s because they are mostly prone in a pool, using their core in a 360-degree way.
These aquatic-inspired poses strengthen your oblique muscles and transverse abdominis, improving the whole package. When my son is playing on the floor, I make it a point to lie down next to him and do these moves. He sometimes even jumps on my back, which adds extra resistance. (Thanks, Timothy!)
Start by lying on your belly with arms extended overhead and legs long behind you. On an inhale, lift your right arm and left leg at the same time. Exhale and lower limbs down, then inhale while lifting opposite leg and arm. Continue switching arms and legs for 8 slow reps per side, then hold both arms and legs in the air and alternate lifting them quickly, 8 times per side, as if you were really swimming. Lower down and rest for a few seconds. Repeat the entire sequence.
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Photo: Alex Beauchesne; Styling by Karen Shapiro; Hair and Makeup by Angela Huff for Mark Edwards Inc
Next, lengthen your arms back by your waist, palms facing in. On an inhale, lift your upper body and legs. Hold for a count of 5 deep, full breaths, then lower back down. Rest for 1 breath before lifting up again. Repeat 3 times.
Kristin McGee is a leading yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. Find her favorite moves and latest inspiration at health.com/kristin.