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Pilates: The Secret to an Amazing Body

Pilates is the workout to turn to for a flat tummy. A 2008 study found that Pilates mat exercises engage and strengthen the deeper ab muscles responsible for a sleek, flat stomach. But Pilates isn’t just about whittling your waistline: It can also give you exceptional whole-body toning and graceful posture, plus make your daily activities (like hoisting groceries) easier to do.

Swan dive

For triceps, shoulders, lower back; stretches abs, chest

Lie on your stomach, stretch your arms overhead, point your toes, and lift your arms and legs about 6 inches off the ground. Hold for 1 count, imagining your legs being pulled out and back, away from your hips. Next, circle your arms out to the sides and behind you. Exhale and reach your arms toward your toes, palms facing in (shown). Hold for 1 count, then bring arms back to starting position and relax entire body to ground. Repeat 6–8 times.

Side incline with a twist

For triceps, biceps, core, waist

Lie on your right side with forearm directly under shoulder, hand perpendicular to your body, and legs stacked. Engage your abs and the right side of your waist, lifting your hips so your body forms a straight line from head to feet. Extend your left arm toward the sky, staying engaged through your core (shown). Now scoop your left arm in front of your body and reach under the space between your chest and the ground, twisting only from the waist up. Come back up; repeat 4 times, then lower body to the ground. Repeat on the opposite side.

Charlie’s Angels abs

For triceps, lower abs, inner thighs, hips

From a seated, feet-forward position, lean your upper body back while contracting your abs. Straighten arms, interlacing all fingers except your index fingers. Lift knees, forming a tabletop with shins. Keep arms pointing forward and circle knees to the right, down, to the left, and up (shown); reverse direction. (If this is too challenging, place palms on floor behind you for support.) Complete 4 circles in each direction. Maintain a 120-degree bend in knees, straightening out as you circle through the 6 o’clock position. Continuously contract abs to protect lower back. Repeat 2–4 times.

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