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Tummy Tighteners

Forget sit-ups! My yoga teacher shares her favorite moves for core strength and stability.

Yoga is my go-to workout, and vinyasa yoga instructor Alexandria Crow is my go-to guru when I need to realign my body and soul—and when it’s bikini season! Let’s face it: We all want the six-pack abs you see on the magazine covers. But Alex cautions that a totally flat stomach isn’t achievable for everyone—genetics, hormones, and diet all come into play—and it’s not necessarily desirable from a fitness perspective either. “Core strength doesn’t come from your abdomen and it’s not healthy to make that region really strong,” she explains. Instead, when we work together, she focuses on building strength in my obliques and in my back muscles, and the visual results are better than with sit-ups. Here are her favorite moves for building core strength and stability—better stomach definition is a happy bonus.
Forearm Plank
This is an all-over strengthener. It gets every single muscle in your body working all at once. Do it for 30 seconds (or a minute if you don’t feel the burn), twice a day.

  1. Ÿ Interlace your fingers and stack your elbows underneath your shoulders
  2. Ÿ Extend your legs, and keeping your knees straight, push back through your heels
  3. Ÿ Draw your tailbone downward and your belly in and hold (don’t forget to breathe!)
  4. Ÿ If you start to sag, bring your knees down to the floor

Leg Lower and Lift
Giada has a long torso and it’s really hard for me to keep her lower back out of things, so I do a modified version of this move with her, but the goal is the same.

  1. Ÿ Lie on your back with your legs straight up to the ceiling
  2. Ÿ Keep your pelvis on the floor and pay attention to the lumbar curve; your back should curve slightly away from the floor
  3. Ÿ Descend your legs slowly until they are an inch or two above the ground—or until you start to arch your back—hover, and then bring them back up
  4. Ÿ Repeat 5 times

This small movement—you’re only lifting your head and shoulders about two inches off the ground—fires up your obliques, strengthening and defining your core.

  1. Ÿ Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and a block between your legs
  2. Ÿ Place your hands across your chest
  3. Ÿ Lift your right ribs up and across to your left hip, then repeat on the other side, lifting your lefts ribs up and across to your right hip
  4. Ÿ Do two sets of 12

Mini-Locust Pose
Not only is this move good for your spine health, it also improves your posture, which gives the illusion of flatter abs. And, of course, you exude confidence!

  1. Ÿ Lie on your belly with your feet about hip-distance apart and your arms by your side, palms on the floor
  2. Ÿ Keeping your lower body relaxed, lift your chest, shoulders, and head off the floor
  3. Ÿ Inhale on the way up, exhale on the way down
  4. Ÿ Repeat 5 times


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