Sculpt them sleek and sexy with these six easy tricks.
It takes only a few key exercises and a handful of minutes a week to shape and maintain a solid core, says Jennifer Williams, a former professional ballet dancer and pilates instructor who’s the abs maestro behind this cinch-in-ablink workout.
Jennifer borrowed the best of ballet and pilates to turn her super effective technique into the US-based Pop Physique studio chain. Thanks to her background, Pop Physique’s barre routines are rooted in the classics (as in the familiar plies and pulses), but each workout has a sexy edge to it (you’ll bend and twist in new ways).
“It’s modern and fun,” she says. It’s also just the creative approach your tummy needs to stay sleek. The classes are typically an hour long and will work you head to toe. But for this session, she has picked six focused moves that work magic on your abs.
The trick to maximising each move’s ﬁrming power, Jennifer says, is to focus on two very important things throughout every single rep: posture and breath. When it comes to your posture, lift up with your abs and back muscles. “And always pull your tummy in,” she explains. “Never push it out.” As you exhale, draw your belly button towards your spine.
On top of saving your abs, this workout will also lift and round your butt and tighten your thighs, she says. You’ll use a small, soft ball for four of the six moves, or even a rolled-up towel. By holding it between your thighs or behind your knee, you have to squeeze your legs to keep it in place, which activates muscles that would otherwise be sleeping through certain moves, Jennifer explains. You can think of it as extra-credit toning for each exercise.
Meanwhile, the ball can also make the moves easier: “Use it to prop yourself up if you need lower-back support for the ﬂoor work,” she says. (Having trouble sitting tall for a set of Slow Punches? Place the ball behind your lower back rather than between your thighs.)
After just one workout, your abs and booty will really feel it. In a week, you’ll be walking taller and with a little more conﬁdence. Keep it up and everything will ﬁt – and zip – better.
Do each move in order for the reps indicated. Repeat the circuit two to three times. You can do this routine three days a week on alternate days.
YOU’LL NEED: A small, slightly squishy ball and a mat, if necessary.
To get a little more out of this move, squeeze the ball to activate your shoulders and biceps.
1 PLIE BEND
Works abs, obliques, butt, inner thighs, calves
Hold ball and stand with feet wide and toes turned out 45 degrees. Raise ball overhead, squat and lift left heel to start [a]. Keep arms straight and bend torso to the left, so that ball is over knee [b].
Slowly pulse ball up 5cm and down 5cm. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps. Switch sides and repeat.
2 EXTENDED LIFT
Works abs, butt, inner thighs
Hold ball, and stand with heels together and toes turned out 45 degrees. Extend arms forward at chest height, and raise left leg to hip height.
Bend knee slightly, point toes, and rotate leg inwards to start [a]. Straighten left leg, then pulse leg up to touch ball [b] and lower to start position. That’s 1 rep. Do 8 reps. Switch sides and repeat.
3 OBLIQUE TILT
Works obliques, butt, hamstrings
Hold ball, and stand with heels together and toes turned out 45 degrees. Bend right knee, drawing foot towards butt, and place ball behind right knee (squeeze ball tightly). Point toes, and bring ﬁngertips behind head to start.
Rotate orso to the right as you aise right knee, drawing elbow towards knee [shown]. Slowly pulse knee up 5cm and down 5cm. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps. Switch sides and repeat.
4 PLANK DIAGONAL
Works shoulders, chest, abs, butt, inner thighs
Start on ﬂoor in plank on palms, with feet together. Draw right knee towards chest [a], then extend leg back and out 45 degrees [b]. That’s 1 rep. Without lowering foot, repeat. Do 4 reps. Switch sides and repeat.
5 SLOW PUNCHES
Works abs, obliques
Sit on ﬂoor with knees bent and ball pressed between thighs, holding backs of thighs. Round lower back, tuck pelvis, and squeeze glutes and inner thighs to start.
Slowly extend left arm forward, rotating ﬁst palm down at eye level [shown]. Switch sides and repeat. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
6 SCISSOR KICK
Works abs, butt, inner thighs
Lie face up on ﬂoor with legs extended over hips, and arms by sides with palms down. Cross right leg over left to start. Then switch legs.
Slowly lower legs to 45 degrees, continuing to scissor them [shown]. Scissor legs back to start position. That’s 1 rep. Do 4 reps.
“Start each move slowly, then increase your pace. It will amp up the intensity and calorie burning,” Jennifer says.