Group 1: Rocket + Knee-Cross Crunch
Blame it on low riders and skimpy tops, but lately women everywhere seem to be lamenting the roll of jiggle that bulges over the waistline or bra strap. The solution to belly and back fat? This combo routine from Ellen Barrett, creator of the Pick Your Level: Weight Loss Pilates DVD (that's her below), which pairs high-energy plyometric exercises with core-toning Pilates moves. "You'll sculpt your entire midsection from every angle while burning fat," she says. Do it two or three times a week and your whole torso will be leaner in just 30 days.
How It Works: Do each plyometric/Pilates combo in the order given, taking 10 seconds to rest between each series. If time allows, repeat the sequence twice.
Fat Blaster: Rocket
Stand with feet together, knees slightly bent and abs engaged with arms at your sides. Jump up as high as you can, using your arms for momentum, and land softly with knees slightly bent. Do 10 reps, pausing briefly between each one.
Core Toner: Knee-Cross Crunch
Stand with feet together. Raise left arm overhead and place right hand on hip (not shown). Keeping your torso upright, exhale and touch right knee and left elbow together across the body. Inhale and return to start. Repeat 10 times. Switch sides.
Group 2: Plyo Shuffle + Wrap Twist
Fat Blaster: Plyo Shuffle
Stand with feet hip-distance apart, knees bent and arms at sides with elbows bent. Step out to right with right foot, straightening right leg. Keep left foot planted and lean forward slightly. Hop to right, landing on right foot; hop to left, landing on left foot. Continue, alternating sides for a total of 20 times.
Core Toner: Wrap Twist
Stand with feet wide apart, toes turned out to corners. Extend arms by sides, palms forward. Standing as tall as possible, exhale and twist torso to the left without moving hips. Place right hand on left side of waist. Inhale and hold. On next exhalation, repeat in opposite direction. Continue alternating sides, 20 times total.
Group 3: Lateral Jump + Side Imprint
Fat Blaster: Lateral Jump
Stand with feet together, abs engaged and arms bent by sides. Bend your knees and lean forward slightly from the waist. Jump to the right, landing with knees slightly bent. Pause, then jump to the left. Repeat 20 times total.
Core Toner: Side Imprint
Stand tall with heels together and toes turned out slightly. Extend left arm overhead and place right hand on your waist (not shown). Keeping torso upright, exhale and lower left elbow to the side while raising left knee. Repeat 10 times. Switch sides.
Group 4: Single-Leg Plyometric + Trunk Spiral
Fat Blaster: Single-Leg Plyometric
Stand with knees bent, torso tilted forward and elbows tucked into sides, abs engaged. Lifting right foot so you're balancing on left leg, tighten abs and jump up as high as you can, landing on left foot with knee slightly bent. (If you need help balancing, hold on to a wall for support.) Repeat 10 times. Switch sides.
Core Toner: Trunk Spiral
Stand with heels together and toes turned out slightly. Extend both arms overhead and bring palms together. Keep legs straight and squeeze your glutes. Exhale, scooping your belly as if zipping a pair of pants, and rotate your upper body clockwise in a circle about the size of a hubcap. Inhale and hold at the top. Repeat 10 times clockwise. Change directions and repeat.
Group 5: Jump Squat + Vertical Cat
Fat Blaster: Jump Squat
Stand with arms by sides, feet together and abs engaged. Bend your knees slightly and lean your torso forward. Jump your feet wide into a low squat, planting them, as you land, with toes turned out slightly and hands on thighs. Jump feet back in and stand up, landing with knees soft. Repeat the move 10 times.
Core Toner: Vertical Cat
Stand with feet wide apart, toes pointed out slightly. Extend arms to the sides at shoulder height, palms forward and fingertips touching. Scoop your belly, pushing arms forward and tucking your tailbone under, forming a rounded spine. Inhale and release to start. Repeat 10 times.
Group 6: Jump Lunge + Standing Saw
Fat Blaster: Jump Lunge
Lunge forward with your left leg, keeping your torso upright and abs engaged. Jump up, switching legs mid-air and landing with right leg forward and left leg back, knees bent. Try not to let your front knee go past your toes. Repeat 20 times total, alternating lead legs each time.
Core Toner: Standing Saw
Stand with feet wide apart, toes turned out slightly. Extend arms to the sides at shoulder height, palms forward (not shown). Twist your torso to the left and touch right hand to left toes, bringing left arm behind you. (If necessary, bend your knees slightly.) Return to center and repeat on opposite side. Do 20 reps total.
Workout Safety Tips
Plyometrics are a great way to burn calories, build muscle, and even improve bone density, but they are high-impact moves, which can be trouble on fragile joints. Protect yourself by keeping the following pointers in mind:
- Always land with your knees slightly bent, and try to "stick the landing" (hold the position) when you come down.
- Mind your middle. To help increase your power and maintain your balance, remember to tighten your core as you jump.
- Wear the right shoes. Shock-absorbing footwear like running shoes can help your body handle the impact of the jumps.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2007.