Trying to tone your tummy for swimsuit season? We can help! The secret to a fat-blasting workout is doing the moves correctly. To learn how to get the most from the time you spend exercising, we asked fitness guru Kathy Smith for her savviest secrets on taming that tummy bulge as well as getting a better overall workout. Incorporate these tips into your get-fit routine and you’ll be saying sayonara to belly fat, jiggly arms and thick thighs in no time.
1. Wake up your waist-whittling workout by introducing a stability ball. To find the correct position for doing crunches on a stability ball, sit on the ball and roll down until your hips and lower back are resting on the ball. As your abs get stronger, position your hips higher on the ball and farther from the floor. For more of a challenge, move your feet closer together, eventually working up to having your knees touching.
2. Make a “house for a mouse.” Here’s how it works: Lie facedown with your pubic bone and ribs “glued” to the floor. Now contract your abs so that you pull your belly button up and away from the floor. The tiny space you’ve created near your navel is the mouse’s house. Continue breathing while you hold this position for 10 seconds. Work up to holding it for a full 30 seconds, and do this move three or four times each week. Even though the movement is small, you’re working the transverse abdominus — the lower muscles of the belly that, when toned, will give you a sexy, flat stomach. Incorporate the house for a mouse into your other exercises as well. Whether you’re standing up or lying down, concentrate on pulling your abdominals up and in. The payoff: You’ll be building your core strength while also working other areas of the body.
3. Bothered by back pain when doing crunches on the stability ball? A simple change in position can make lower-back discomfort a distant memory. Concentrate on squeezing your buttocks and pulling your hips toward the ceiling. This movement flattens out the lower back and prevents too much of a curve. Also try this technique if lower-back pain pops up when you’re doing yoga or Pilates moves that require you to lie facedown on the floor.
4. To ensure you’re hitting the targeted muscles while doing squats, sit back with your weight in your heels — you should be able to wiggle your toes and lift them off the floor as you squat. Also, to make sure that you’re squatting low enough to really work your thighs and butt, practice squatting over a chair so that your butt just hovers above the seat.
5. When doing lunges, there should be enough distance between your front foot and your back foot so that your front knee doesn’t jut out over your foot. For most people, spacing feet about three feet apart is just right. Also, be sure to lower your body until your front knee forms a 90-degree angle with the floor. Another tip: Keep your weight in the heel of your front foot to fire up your glutes and shape your butt as you lunge.
6. Take lunges to the next level by placing your front foot on an unstable surface, such as a BOSU Balance Trainer or a Dyna Disc, as you do your lunges. The wobbly surface ups the difficulty — and the payoff — because you’ll have to work your abs and core muscles to help maintain your balance. If you don’t have a BOSU or Dyna Disc, substitute a firm pillow.
A Better Upper Body & A Toned Tush
7. Get ready to go sleeveless by doing biceps curls. To get the most out of each rep, keep your elbows pinned against your sides and press your shoulders back and down. Bonus: Turn biceps curls into an ab-toning workout by doing them while sitting on a stability ball.
8. If you only have time for one exercise, make it the push-up, which is tops for sculpting your arms and chest. Just by changing the placement of your hands, you can vary the workout. To hit the triceps, position your hands directly under your shoulders and rotate about 30 degrees so that your fingers are pointed outward. Your elbows should brush your waist as you go down. To target your chest, place your hands wider than shoulder width with your fingers facing forward. Do as many of each kind as you can.
A Toned Tush
9. When climbing stairs, put your whole foot on each step and focus on placing your weight in your heels to engage your glutes. For extra butt-blasting, climb the steps two at a time.
10. You may have tried hip lifts before, and they can be safe and effective — if you keep a couple of things in mind. The correct position: lying on your back with your feet flat on a low bench or a step. As you raise and lower your hips toward the ceiling, squeeze your butt muscles at the top of the move. Move slowly and be sure that in the up position your knees, hips and ribs are all in a line and your body weight is resting on your shoulder blades, not on your neck, as you lift. Do 8-12 repetitions. Too easy? Do this move with one leg raised. Build up to 8-12 reps on each side.