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Flat Abs Fast: The Core-Strengthening Workout

These belly-flattening exercises work your core from the front, sides, and back for strong, sculpted abs.

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Alex Palombo
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How This Workout Works

How do you create the ideal belly-flattening routine? You start with a short list of exercises that have been proved in the lab and then hand them to a fitness pro to give them a little twist. "These nine moves not only work your core from the front, back, and sides, but they are also adjustable to any level," says Chelsey Korus, an instructor for YogaWorks studios in New York City, who adapted this seriously cinching session for FITNESS.

The synergy of doing a workout that strengthens your entire core also means extra support for your spine and more power when you do everything, including playing tennis and pushing a stroller. All you'll need is a pair of yoga blocks, such as Gaiam's Yoga Essentials Blocks ($21 a pair, gaiam.com) and a towel. Aim to do three sessions a week on nonconsecutive days.

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Bird Dog Gets Down

Targets back, rectus abdominis, obliques, and transversus abdominis

  • Start on mat on all fours, then tuck toes under and press hips back and up as you step back to form an upside-down V; lift right leg behind you.
  • MAKE IT EASIER: Keep both feet on mat.
  • With right leg lifted, shift body forward to come into full push-up position, shoulders over wrists. Hold for one count; return to start. Do 10 to 15 reps; switch sides, repeat. Do 2 to 3 sets.

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Tolasana on Blocks

Targets rectus abdominis, obliques, and transversus abdominis

  • Sit on mat with knees bent and ankles crossed, and place each palm atop a yoga block on either side of hips, fingers pointing forward.
  • Straighten arms and exhale as you contract your abs to lift butt and legs off mat. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Lower.
  • MAKE IT HARDER: From lifted tuck position, try to extend legs midair.
  • Do 5 reps, alternating leg that's crossed on top.

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Side Plank Variation

Targets rectus abdominis, obliques, and transversus abdominis

  • Start in full push-up position with feet together. Grab a yoga block with right hand and rotate body into side plank: Shoulders and hips stacked, balancing on left palm and side of left foot. Extend right arm up.
  • MAKE IT EASIER: Stagger feet.
  • Bring right arm underneath rib cage. Raise arm.
  • Do 10 to 15 reps. Switch sides and repeat. Do 2 to 3 sets.

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Magic Carpet Ride

Targets rectus abdominis, obliques, and transversus abdominis

  • Start on an uncarpeted floor in full push-up position, balancing on hands and toes, arms extended, a folded towel underneath feet.
  • Contract abs and bring knees in toward chest.
  • MAKE IT HARDER: Keep legs straight and lift hips high to bring feet toward hands.
  • Hold for one count, then return to start. Do 3 sets of 10 reps, resting 45 seconds between sets.

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Pass the Block

Targets rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis

  • Lie faceup on mat with arms extended behind head, both hands holding a single yoga block.
  • Curl up to reach arms toward toes, bending knees to place block between feet.
  • Holding block with feet, lower back to mat as you extend arms behind head and legs forward.
  • Reverse motion back to start to complete 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

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Wide-Legged Criss-Cross

Targets rectus abdominis, obliques, transversus abdominis, and inner thighs

  • Lie faceup on mat with hands behind head, elbows bent out to sides, and legs extended directly up, squeezing a single yoga block between thighs.
  • Curl shoulders off floor and rotate torso to bring left elbow toward right.
  • Return to center and repeat toward left.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 20 reps, alternating sides.

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Balancing Act

Targets rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis

  • Lie faceup on mat and bend knees into chest to place a single yoga block atop soles of flexed feet; place arms on floor slightly out to sides and slowly extend legs straight up.
  • MAKE IT EASIER: Do not use block.
  • Without rocking, slowly lift hips a few inches off mat and then lower them.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps.

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Lean Back

Targets rectus abdominis, obliques, transversus abdominis, and inner thighs

  • Sit on mat with knees bent, one yoga block between thighs and a second block and rolled-up towel directly behind butt; place hands behind head, elbows out, and extend right leg diagonally up.
  • MAKE IT EASIER: Keep both feet on mat; use a rolled-up blanket behind you for more support.
  • Lean back a few inches; return to start.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 25 reps; switch legs each set.

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Warrior III Curl

Targets rectus abdominis, obliques, transversus abdominis, and butt

  • Place yoga blocks shoulder-width apart on floor so that blocks are at their tallest. Hinge forward 90 degrees at hips and place palms atop each block, shoulders aligned over wrists; extend left leg behind you parallel to floor with toes pointing down.
  • Contract abs and round back as you bring left knee toward forehead.
  • Do 10 reps; switch legs, repeat. Do 2 to 3 sets.

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What do you think? Review this slideshow!

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helen.gao73 wrote:

It works for all people

4/20/2013 03:25:37 PM Report Abuse
DaniCarey wrote:

I guess this doesn't work for tall people?

1/13/2013 04:13:14 PM Report Abuse

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