The midsection can be the toughest area to sculpt, especially if you’re sitting on your keester all day at work. Julie Erickson — owner of Endurance Pilates & Yoga in Arlington, Mass., and creator of Barre Boston — recommends the following exercises:
Criss Cross: Targets the obliques
With your hands supporting the weight of your head, rotate your ribcage to the right with both shoulder blades off the mat. Lift higher as you move through center and to the other side. Legs move in and out, straight from the hips, and the movement is slow and controlled, lifting higher and twisting more every time. Complete 20 total twists.
Neck Pull: Targets lower abs
Sitting with your legs extended, slightly apart and strongly grounded to the floor; lift your torso to straighten the spine, sitting as tall as possible. Reach your upper body away from your legs, keeping the legs still and the back straight for as long as possible.
When your back cannot stay straight, scoop your belly in and lower the upper body carefully to the mat with control. Lift your head, keeping the weight of the skull supported by your hands and curl up and over the legs, crown of the head reaching to the knees. Stack back up to the start position from the bottom to the top of the spine. Repeat 10 times.
Barre Boston Booty Lift: Targets tush, glutes and hamstrings
Stand upright and balance on one leg, holding onto a chair or barre for support. Place a ball or towel behind the bent knee and pull your heel as close as possible toward your tush. Without arching the lower back or leaning forward, stretch the front of the thigh down and point the bent knee to the floor.
Draw the pubic bone up toward the belly button to activate the lower part of the rectus abdominals and to flatten any “pooches” in the lower belly. Your knees should be level. Squeeze your bottom and lengthen more through the front of your leg to take tiny pulses back. Repeat 20 times.
Single Leg Kick: Pulls the shoulders back to open heart and hips
Start by lying on your belly. Bring your elbows under your shoulders and pull the shoulder blades in closer to your spine to open your chest. Pull the belly, front of hips and ribcage off the floor, and press your pubic bone into the floor to find a deep stretch through the front of the body.
Keep this opening and squeeze the bottom, stretch the right leg super long and bend your knee, engaging the hamstring without disturbing the upper body. Pull your heel as close to the bottom as possible without shifting and switch sides, alternating 20 pulls of the heel to the bottom.
Tricep Dips: Opens the chest and works the upper back and back of arms
Have a seat with your legs squeezing together and your feet flat on the floor. Hands are behind the hips, fingers facing forward. Lift your bottom off the floor and pull your lower belly muscles in.
Pull your shoulders back and down, engaging the rhomboids — muscles in your mid-to-upper back — and lats, and lower your bottom to just barely touch the floor, keeping the shoulders and torso in place and just bending at the elbows. Repeat 20 times to start and then add another 20 to target the back of the arms.