Having a tight middle isn't all about looks. It's about function, strength and holding your entire self together. Balance and coordination are based off of your tummy muscles — together, they are the steering wheel of the body. Not only do they help you move, but when they're strong they can lower your risk of injury. Start toning and shaping your core from every angle to make the everyday tasks smoother, safer and definitely more sexy!
Reverse Tabletop to L-Sit: The core isn't just in the front. Reverse your tabletop and activate the glutes by squeezing them to keep your hips lifted. Look up to the ceiling, then drop the hips down and back, sending them between the arms. You'll need to really pull that belly button up and in to glide through without touching the floor. See more here.
Plank Toe Taps: Any kind of suspension training (in other words, exercises that make you bridge your own body weight) are super effective for function. Come to your elbows and bring your feet together, zipping them up through the thighs. Tap one foot out a few inches, nothing crazy. Focus on the core, not the leg motion. Get more details here.
Plank Heel Lifts: While you're there, spread the feet apart about 6 inches, push back through the heels and lift one foot at a time. Even though you're lifting, your hips need to stay square to the mat. Roll your weight into the big toes to help. Get lifted right here.
C-Crunches: This isn't your average crunch. Keep your knees over the hips and pull the chest into the thighs like a magnet. Use the lats, those muscles around the ribs, to control the pull. Push the lower back into the floor and "C" ya later flab! Master this move here.
Crossover Kicks: Target that stubborn lower belly by lying on your back and making those hip flexors work! Raise the legs to your lowest point so your back is still glued to the mat. Cross one ankle over the other, then switch. Exhale on the cross, inhale on the un-cross. Straighten it out here.
Kettlebell Windmill: Challenge those hourglass muscles with a little anti-gravity. Hold the kettlebell or any weight in one hand, stand shoulder-width apart and stick the other arm out to the side. Rotate the torso as you drop the weight as low as possible, squeeze the glutes and obliques to lift up. Boom. See more on this move here.
Tricep Pushup: Thought you could work the core and avoid pushups? Ehh, not really. The tricep pushup requires a lot of trunk strength to complement the work being done by your triceps. Together, you can lift up and down seamlessly. Make sure those elbows stay tight to the body. Get more details on positioning here.
Intensified Plank: Remember how balance and coordination are part of your core strength? Grab a foam roller and challenge both right now! Keep the wrists under the shoulders and press back through the heels. Steady, now. Get more tips on this trick here.
Pushup with Hand Raise: Feel that core change from underneath you as you perform a pushup, then extend one arm out in front of you. Push up again and switch arms. This alternating tripod action will make your body want to shift, but you're too strong to flinch! See Brooke break it down for you here.
Chaturanga Pushup: Tap into your yoga-loving vibes and push out a few of these. You want to drop into a push while simultaneously pushing your head between the hands like a swan dive. Come to an upward dog, return to plank and dive again. Cha-cha your way to strength here.
BOSU Plank Tilts: Ready to go for a ride? Grab a BOSU on either side and plank up. Then push into one side, tilting the BOSU and your body. Switch it up to the other side and don't forget to breathe. Get more details here.
Reverse Crunch: Rock those lower abs into gear with a reverse crunch. Lie on your back, bend the knees, and peel your hips off the floor. Use your arms to assist you and make sure you exhale on the crunch! Tighten up your form here.
Seated Leg Extension: Take some time to strengthen the hip flexors, which are a hidden weak spot for most women (especially moms!). Sit on the floor, legs out in front of you and flex the feet. Lift one leg and draw the knee to the chest, reverse and release. Try not to lean too far back! It's harder than it looks. Check out more details here.
Bicycle Toe Taps: This a beginner's exercise than any advanced fitness pro can use again. Lie on your back and bring the knees into tabletop. Dip the toes down for a tap and switch. Keep the lower back glued to the mat. Get more tips here.
Woodchopper: Work the obliques and get a little cardio in, too! Grab a weighted object (dumbbell, medicine ball, your purse) and stand with feet at shoulder-width distance. Squat and twist to one side. Push out of the squat and swing the weight across your body and above your head, but keep the weight in front of you. Both feet stay completely on the floor! See more on that here.
Bench Leg Raise: You can do this move on any elevated surface. Lie down and scoot your hips to the edge; set your hands underneath for support. Keep the legs together as you lift them up and down — you pick the range of motion! Get some support tips here.
Resistance Band Flutter Kicks: Make your legs do a little more pushing by using the resistance band. Slide your feet into the handles and grab the center of the band as you lie back on the floor. Keep the legs straight and perform the flutter kicks. See more here.