Although cardio undoubtedly contributes to a healthier bod, strength training is just as necessary if we want to trim and accentuate our natural curves. If you’re like me and despise pumping iron at the gym or simply don’t have time for it, Thumbtack Personal trainer Kaitlyn Noble recommends trying a Pilates-inspired routine.
That’s because most of the moves focus on the transverse adbominis. For those who aren’t fluent in fitness lingo, that’s the layer that “literally wraps around your torso to hold everything in place and also to stabilize the spine.” We use it to do everything from coughing to lifting our arms, but unfortunately, a lot of popular core exercises don’t focus on this area. Instead, they usually just strengthen the superficial, or “six-pack,” layer.
Noble says, “It’s great to strengthen these muscles as well, but strengthening the deepest layer will give you more dramatic results because it literally acts as a corset, pulling everything in deeper and giving you a more defined waist.”
Pilates moves are not only low-impact, they also focus on spine mobility, articulation, and flexibility. “It will retrain you to hold your body taller and straighter, plus you’ll be so aware of each muscle in your body after you start this style of training,” says Noble. “Not only will you see dramatic aesthetic changes, but this style of training is built for longevity. Too often people find Pilates once an issue arises, but if more people started with a healthy body, we’d see a huge change in our mobility and physical health as we age.”
Ahead, Noble shares five exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home. If you’ve tried and failed at finding the proper workout for a more defined waist, your search ends here.
Lie on your back. Curl your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground and bend your right knee to your chest. Hold the right knee into your chest by actively pulling it in with your hands. The left leg will be straight out from the hip, floating off the ground. Now fluidly send the right leg straight as you pull the left knee to your chest. Go back and forth between your legs for 10 reps per side. Your head stays lifted the entire time.
Pull both knees to your chest with your head, neck, and shoulders remaining off the ground, and hands actively pulling your knees to your chest. Send your arms overhead at the same time that both legs shoot forward, then bend your knees and grab on to the top of your knees again. Flow through 5–10 reps with no pause.
Send your straight right leg above your hip, with your left leg straight and floating above the ground. Grab behind the right calf, with your head, neck, and shoulders curled off the ground. Swiftly kick your legs so they switch places and grab behind the left calf. Switch back and forth between your two legs for 10 reps on each one.
Lie on your back. Curl your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground with your hand supporting the back of your head. Send both legs above your hips to 90 degrees. Let both legs drop toward the ground (only going as far as you can while maintaining control with your core), then dynamically pull both legs above hips again. Repeat 5–10 times.
Keep your hands behind your head and immediately pull the right knee in, sending your left leg long as you crunch the opposite shoulder toward the bent knee. Move back and forth between your two sides for 10 reps on each side.