“Your abdominal muscles support your body, so having a strong core is essential,” explains Warner, who agreed to share—and demonstrate—some of her favourite moves in a set of exercises exclusively designed for Best Health readers. She’s the proof they work—just check out these photos: What a body!
All six moves target your core muscles, including your rectus abdominis (front), internal and external obliques (side), transversus abdominis (interior) and erector spinae (lower back). Some will also tone your arms and legs.
Equipment: You will need a mat or large towel and one dumbbell (three to eight pounds, depending on your fitness level—beginners should start the program without using the weight).
Warm up your core: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Draw your arms up to prepare to “shadow box”—with your elbows tucked into your sides, and your hands in fists at shoulder height. Take right arm diagonally across body, punching toward the left side, and alternate sides for a few minutes. “This is a good way to connect with the muscles you are going to be working,” says Warner.
Stretch to cool down: Complete this workout by doing about five minutes of core stretching: Lie on your back, bring your knees into your chest, then drop them to the right side of your body while you extend your arms to the left side at shoulder height. Hold, and then switch sides. Repeat.