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Yoga & Pilates for Abs

The following yoga and Pilates-based exercises target the abs and back while also building flexibility and improving your balance.

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Step forward about 4 feet, bending your right knee and lifting your arms parallel to the floor, shoulder blades relaxed, palms down.  Turn right foot slightly to the right and the left foot out to 90 degrees, aligning both heels.   Exhale and bend the right knee over the ankle, shin should be perpendicular to the floor, thigh parallel to the floor.  Press the left leg straight, pressing outer heel firmly into the floor.  Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute and switch sides.  Repeat 2-3 times

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Lie face up and bring legs up, keeping them straight and together.  Lift head and shoulders off the ground, pulling in the abs (don't let them bulge out) and bringing hands next to thighs.  Lower the legs as much as you can while keeping your back on the floor and press hands up and down, counting with each press.  Inhale for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts and repeat until you hit 100, lowering your legs once again halfway through.  

Leg Circles
Lie face up on the floor and raise right leg straight up over hip, toe pointed.  Keeping abs tight and torso stabilized slowly circle leg clockwise 5 times, making big circles without moving your torso or hips (only the leg moves).  Repeat 5 times counterclockwise and switch legs.  Repeat 2-3 times on each leg.

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Tree Pose
Stand with feet planted, arms at sides and body in alignment (ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over ankles).  Inhale and bend the right leg, pulling the heel up until it rests on the inside of the left thigh.  Get your balance and hold this position, then slowly push arms overhead, palms touching each other.  Press the knee back without moving the hips.  Hold this for 30 seconds then switch sides. Repeat 2-3 times

Lie face down on mat with elbows resting on floor next to chest.  Push your body off the floor in a pushup position with body resting on elbows or hands. Contract the abs and keep the body in a straight line from head to toes.  Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat as many times as you can.  For beginners, do this move on your knees and gradually work your way up to balancing on your toes.

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Side Hip Flexion and Extension
Lie on your right side with head supported on the right hand, legs straight and in front of you about 30 degrees.  Lift the left leg, flex the foot and press it forward for 3 counts, then point your toe and swing leg back for 2 counts.  Do not move any other part of your body (keep torso and hips tight and in place, moving only the leg).  Repeat 5-8 times and switch legs.

The Workout
Do this workout 3-4 non-consecutive days a week
Perform each exercise for 2-3 sets of 5-8 repetitions or as indicated

Perfect Form Pointers:
Keep body stabilized throughout the movement
Don't swing or use momentum
Make sure abs are pulled in tight throughout each movement

Warm up with 5-10 minutes of cardio 
Do this workout in addition to an upper body, lower body workout and regular cardio exercise for best results.
Lowering your calories can help you lose more body fat

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