21-Minute Ab Makeover
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Fitness

21-Minute Ab Makeover

This super-effective workout routine designed by Susan Moran-Perich, vice president of Power Pilates in New York City, combines cardio and pilates to beat belly flab.

The Routine

The routine: Do all of the core exercises, followed by two minutes of cardio. Repeat the sequence three times; it'll take about 21 minutes.

What you'll need: An exercise mat and a jump rope (optional).

1. Single-Leg Stretch

Minute 0:00-1:00

Strengthens abdominals, stretches, hip flexors

  • Lie faceup, knees into chest, abs engaged.
  • Lift head, place left hand on right knee, right hand at right ankle, and extend left leg 45 degrees.
  • Pull right knee into chest while reaching left leg out and up.
  • Switch legs and hands.
  • Do 20 reps total, continuing to alternate legs.

2. Double-Leg Lower/Lift

Minute 1:00-2:00

Strengthens abdominals

  • Lie faceup, abs engaged.
  • Place hands under the bottom of your spine.
  • Lift head and extend legs over hips.
  • Lower legs toward floor for 3 counts, then lift up for 1 count.
  • Do 10 reps.

3. Saw

Minute 2:00-3:00

Strengthens obliques, stretches back and hamstrings

  • Sit with legs a bit wider than mat, arms out to sides at shoulder height, abs engaged, back straight.
  • Twist to the right for 3 counts, reaching your pinky finger past your pinky toe, keeping butt on floor.
  • Return to center; twist to the left.
  • Do 3 reps on each side.

4. Sidekick

Minute 3:00-4:00

Strengthens abdominals, hips, hamstrings

  • Lie on your right side along the back of the mat, with legs, hips, and shoulders stacked.
  • Lean on your right elbow and bring legs to the front corner of the mat. Kick left leg forward twice, then swing leg behind you in a sweeping motion.
  • Do 10 reps; switch sides and repeat.

5. Double-Leg Stretch

Minute 4:00-5:00

Strengthens abdominals, stretches lower back and hip flexors

  • Lie faceup, head lifted, knees into chest, abs engaged.
  • Straighten arms overhead, in line with ears, while extending legs 45 degrees. Keep legs still and head lifted as you circle arms wide to your sides, then hug knees back into chest. Do 5 slow reps, then 5 faster reps.

6. Cardio Burst

Minutes 5:00-7:00

  • Jump rope, jog in place, or do high knee or butt kicks.
  • Repeat full sequence 2 more times.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2007.

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