Ladies, we are getting a jump on spring-cleaning, and the first thing to go is the standard crunch. I'm not saying that it's a bad exercise, but if it's your only ab sculptor, you're doing yourself a real disservice. Regular old crunches compartmentalize your strength, working mainly just the rectus abdominis (six-pack). To create a nice curve in the waist, a flat front and hip-line definition, it's key to work the transverse abdominis. This muscle acts as a girdle andyep, you guessed itcinches in your entire middle. But that's just part of the formula. It's also important to kick up your cardio and eat healthy, well-balanced meals. When you put it all together, you'll get the core you crave.
One thing you'll notice: All four of these exercises involve the plank. That's because when you get into this position, every single muscle in the core has no choice but to work. And when they all do, you're on your way to total tightening. Go through this series six times a week, pairing it with 30 minutes of cardio. You'll see a major difference in no time.
Do all moves on the left side first, then repeat on the right.
Start by kneeling; step left leg forward, coming into a kneeling lunge, with both hands on the floor to the right of left foot (A). Lift left leg out to back left corner of the mat, straightening right leg so right toes are on the floor, and press into a plank (B). Return to "A." Repeat 30 times.
Sit on left hip with right leg extended straight out to side, left hand on the floor, right hand straight up in the air (A). Lift hips, coming into a side plank with right foot on the floor and left leg bent with left foot flexed behind you (B). Lower back to the floor and repeat 30 times.
Start in plank, with body in a straight line from head to heels. Bring left foot forward, tucking left knee in as close to chest as possible (A). Return left foot to the floor, then repeat motion with right leg (B). Continue alternating legs in a moderately paced running motion. Do 30 reps.
Start in plank with legs open wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned to the right. Make a fist with right hand and tuck it into chest (A). Bend left knee, bringing it forward and across body while dropping right hand back to the floor (B). Return to "A." Repeat 30 times.
Every day, you get the chance to start over, using the next 24 hours as a new cycle of awareness. Examine your exercise and eating choices to see how they've positively or negatively affected your body. If you blew it, simply work to make healthier decisions the next day.