What it Hits: transcerses abdominis (deep abs) and erector spinae (lower back)
Start facedown on the floor, with your arms and legs extended out front. Raise your head, your left arm, and right leg about five inches off the floor. Hold for three counts, then lower. Repeat with your right arm and left leg. Do up to 10 reps on each side.
Hints: Don’t raise your shoulders too much.
Make it Harder: Lift both arms and legs at the same time.
What it Hits: Glutes and hamstrings
Lie faceup on the floor, with your knees bent 90 degrees, your feet on the floor. Lift your hips and back off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for five to 10 seconds. Lower to the floor and repeat 10 to 12 times.
Hints: Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, and don’t let your spine sag.
Make it Harder: Straighten one leg once your hips are lifted.
What it Hits: Obliques
Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and raised over your hips, with your ankles parallel to the ground, your feet lifted, and your arms extended outward. Rotate your legs to the left side, bringing your knees as close to the floor as possible without touching. Return to the center, then move your knees to the right side. Do 10 to 12 reps on each side.
Hints: Make sure not to swing your hips or use momentum; start the movement from your core and continue to move slowly from side to side. Make it Harder: Keep your legs straight.
What it Hits: Transversus abdominis and lower back
Begin facedown on the floor, propped up on your forearms, with knees and feet together. With your elbows under your shoulders, lift your torso, legs, and hips in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 10 seconds. Raise your right leg a few inches, keeping the rest of the body still. Lower and repeat with your left leg.
Hints: Pull in your belly and don’t let your hips sag.
Make it Harder: Extend the time of the exercise. Each time you lift your leg, hold it for 15 to 20 seconds.
What it Hits: Obliques, transverses abdominis, lower back, hips and glutes.
Lie on your right side, supporting your upper body on your right forearm, with your left arm at your left side. Lift your hips and keeping your body weight support on the forearm and the side of the right foot, extend your left arm above your shoulder. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
Hints: Keep your hips up; don’t let them sag.
Make it Harder: Support your upper body with your right hand, instead of your forearm.
What it Hits: Rectus Abdominis, transverse abdominis
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place hands so that your fingers are by your ears (rather than cupping your head in your hands). Contract the abs and curl forward to lift both shoulders off the floor without tucking your chin to your chest (keep chin pointing up). Hold for two counts and then lower. Do two sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Hints: Keep stomach tight and tucked in
Make it Harder: Grab two cans from the pantry and hold onto to add resistance.
What it Hits: Rectus abdominis, external obliques and internal obliques.
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and hands on the sides of your head. Contract your abdominal muscles as you bring your knees up to a 45-degree angle. Straighten and bend your knees as you alternate crossing and touching right elbow to left knee, then left elbow to right knee. Do two sets of 10 to 12 repetitions for each leg.
Hints: Make sure to keep a straight back.
Make it Harder: Do the entire motion in slow motion.