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5-Minute Pilates Workout: Firm Up Fast

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The Pilates Promise

Tone your entire body, stand taller, and relieve lower back pain with this quickie workout from Alycea Ungaro, author of The Pilates Promise. Doing these four moves not only strengthens your abs and core but also prepares your body for the daily grind, notes Ungaro. "Each exercise puts you in tune with your proper form," she says. When your body is in alignment, you look and feel better.

1. Pilates Push-Ups

Targets: Biceps, Triceps, Chest, Upper Back, and Core

Minutes 0:00-0:30

  • Begin in the up phase of a push-up.
  • Hug your elbows to your sides and bend them straight back, lowering your body until you're about 5 inches from the floor, keeping abs firm, neck long and hips lifted.
  • Hold for a count of 3, then straighten your arms to return to starting position. Repeat

2. Wall Slides

Targets: Quads and Glutes

Minutes 0:30-2:30

  • Stand one pace away from a wall and press your back into the surface.
  • Slowly bend your knees to 90 degrees as you slide your back down the wall. Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Stand up and repeat twice more. Work up to holding for 40 seconds and then 1 minute.

3. Inner Thigh Lift

Targets: Inner Thighs and Glutes

Minutes 2:30-4:00

  • Lie on the floor on your right side, head resting on right hand and legs extended 45 degrees in front of you. Place your left foot on the floor in front of your right thigh and grasp left ankle.
  • Raise right leg to hip height, inner thigh reaching toward the ceiling and foot flexed.
  • Do 8 lifts, then circle leg 3 times.
  • Roll onto your stomach and place your forehead in your hands. Lift legs off the floor and "clap" your heels together 30 times.
  • Roll onto your left side and repeat entire series.

4. Crisscross

Targets: Obliques

Minutes 4:00-5:00

  • Lie on your back with knees bent into chest, hands behind head.
  • Contract abs and lift head and shoulders off the floor. Extend right leg.
  • Keep left knee tucked into chest and bring right elbow toward your knee. Hold for 3 counts; switch sides and repeat.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, August 2006.

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