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Tighten your tummy with these three exercises

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

3 steps to sexier abs

Do you envy the toned tummies of movie stars and athletes? Are you bored with the traditional ab crunches you have been doing since high school? Are you ready to focus on your abs in preparation for the summer bikini season? You can keep doing your routine core exercises, but add these three exercises into your tummy-toning regime to get those sexy summer abs before you hit the beach.

Having the coveted six-pack abs is no easy feat – you have to diet, do daily cardio (and we are not talking a stroll in the park) and perform a challenging series of abdominal and oblique strength-training exercises. However, you can still have a sexy midsection that is taut, strong and toned even without those six-pack ripples. The following three tummy-toning exercises target your rectus abdominus (the abs), transverse abdominus (a deep layer of muscle underneath the abs) and obliques (the muscles that wrap around waist).

1. Belly Button to Spine Posture

Pulling your belly button to your spine while you are standing, sitting or even lying down is one of the most functional ways of working your abdominal muscles. Make "belly button to spine" a daily mantra and practice, and you will train your tummy to be pulled in naturally. When you do this standing or sitting, make sure you keep your back straight. Just imagine a cord pulling your navel back to your spine.

Note: When you do any abdominal exercises, pull your belly button in towards your spine.

2. Pilates T-Stand with Rotation

Pilates T stand

1. Sit on the floor on your right hip with your legs extended to your side, left leg resting on your right leg, and your right arm straight with your right palm on the floor. Your torso and front of your legs should be facing forward.

2. Lift your hips off the floor, your left hip and left hand rising to the ceiling, and support yourself on your right palm and the side of your right foot. Look up towards your left hand. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds.

3. Then slowly rotate your left arm and shoulder forward, turning your left shoulder towards the floor and touch the floor with your left hand. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and return to the T-stand position then lower your right hip back to the ground.

4. Repeat 10 times then switch sides.

3. Downward Dog with Plank downward dog

1. Lay on your stomach on the floor with your elbows underneath your shoulders, neck long and lifted up from your shoulders (don't shrug or sink into your shoulders) and your toes to the floor.

2. Lift your hips, keeping your back straight and bring your body into a plank (you will be supporting your body on your elbows and toes. Keep your belly button pulled to your spine and hold this plank position for 3 to 5 seconds.

3. Lift your rear to the ceiling, bringing your head down, in between your arms, towards the floor, and keep your legs straight. Stay on your toes or flatten your feet to the floor. Imagine someone pulling your belly button towards the ceiling, keeping your abs tight.

4. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds then return to the plank position. Repeat 10 times.

Note: The Downward Dog is often practiced with the palms and feet supporting, instead of the elbows and feet. This modified version does the Downward Dog on the elbows because it a nice transition to and from the plank position.

Because these exercises require your whole body to perform, you will not only get sexy, strong abs, you will also strengthen your upper and lower body muscles.

More information on getting fit & fabulous

Strengthen your core muscles: Abs, obliques, lumbar muscles and more
Celebrity fitness secrets
Yoga for the working girl

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