1. Pilates Modified Roll-Up
Lie on back with arms overhead and knees bent, feet flat on floor. Exhale as you bring arms over chest. Contract abdominals and squeeze inner thighs together as you curl head, shoulders, and back off floor, bringing ribs closer to hips. Use abs, not arms, to power the movement. Keep chin toward chest as you roll up to sitting position. Sit tall and pull abs in toward spine as you inhale. Exhale, contract abs, and roll back to starting position, trying to feel every vertebra touch the floor. Do 8 to 10 times.
Make it easier: Hold on to backs of thighs.
2. Pilates Single-Leg Stretch
Lie on back with knees bent in toward chest, hands just below knees, toes pointed. Pull abs toward spine as you exhale and raise shoulders off floor. Extend left leg and pull right knee closer to chest. Inhale and switch legs, bringing left knee toward chest and extending right leg. Continue alternating legs 18 to 20 times.
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3. Pilates T-Stand
A. Sit with legs extended to left side with left foot crossed over right. Place right hand on floor beside right hip; rest left hand on left leg. Inhale and use abdominals to lift right hip off floor, sweeping left arm up toward ceiling.
B. Exhale as you slowly sweep left arm forward, rolling torso toward floor and reaching left hand under body. Feel upper back open up. Then inhale and use abs to unfold and lower to starting position. Do 4 to 5 times and then repeat on opposite side.
Make it easier: Bend bottom leg and keep knee on floor.
4. Crunch on Ball
Lie faceup on a fitness ball with knees bent and feet on floor. Mid and lower back should press into ball, and hips should be just off ball. Extend left arm overhead and grasp left elbow with right hand. Then tuck tailbone in and lift hips, feeling lower tummy and buttocks tighten. Exhale as you pull navel in and lift head and torso. Imagine curling the bottom of rib cage and pelvis toward each other. Inhale as you lower, lying all the way back on ball. Do 10 times.
Make it easier: Place both hands behind head.
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5. Heel Tap
Lie on back with heels on top of a fitness ball and arms at sides, palms down. Lift right heel an inch off ball and trace the curve of the ball with heel, lowering right foot and leg to floor. Keep abs tight and hips and back still. Lightly tap floor with heel and then lift leg back to starting position. Repeat with left leg. Continue alternating legs 18 to 20 times.
6. Side Crunch with Ball
Lie on right side with legs extended, left heel on a fitness ball and right leg just behind the ball. Extend right arm on floor in front of you, left hand behind head. Exhale as you lift head and shoulders, squeezing through side of midsection. As you lift, bend left knee and roll ball in, bringing left knee and left elbow toward each other. Lower to starting position. Do 8 to 10 times, then switch sides.
Kneel in front of a fitness ball and place sides of hands on ball, palms facing in. Keeping abs tight, roll ball away from torso, extending arms and lowering hips toward floor. Roll back to starting position. Do 8 to 10 times.
Make it easier: Keep hips over knees.
Adapted from Tone Your Tummy Type by Denise Austin (published by Rodale, which also publishes Prevention)
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