Personal Trainer: Lesson in waist reduction

Most everyone is tightening their belts these days, and gym memberships often are one of the extras that get sacrificed. If you're willing to take a few moments at home at least three times a week, you can literally tighten your belt over a slimmer waistline with these quick and easy home exercises.

Incline push-up

Personal trainer Marcia Skinner demonstrates proper form.

Thanks to Aspire Personal Training in Medford for providing the equipment and facilities for this photo shoot.

1. Assume a push-up position on a raised surface, such as a box, bench, ottoman or even a stair step. (You can even lean against a wall.) Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head.

2. Keep your abs tight and back straight as you lower your body until your upper arms bend as far as possible at the elbows.

3. Pause and then push yourself quickly back to the starting position. (The lower the surface on which you place your hands, the harder the exercise becomes.) If the incline push-up is too easy, do it the old-fashioned way, with your hands on the floor. Do 12 to 15 repetitions.

Hip raise

1. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

2. Place your arms out to your sides at a 45-degree angle, palms facing up. Keep your core muscles tight; breathe normally.

3. Keeping your back supported, squeeze your glutes and raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

4. Pause for five seconds — squeezing your glutes tightly the entire time — then lower your body back to the starting position. Do 10 repetitions.

Back extensions

1. Lie face-down on a mat and place your hands behind your head.

2. Contract your abs and keep them contracted throughout the exercise.

3. Squeeze your back to lift your chest a few inches off the floor.

4. Lower and repeat for 16 reps.

Pyramid planks

1. Begin in a plank position on the forearms and toes (back straight; neck in neutral alignment).

2. Press your hips up toward the ceiling while staying on forearms (like an upside "V") and gently press heels toward the floor.

3. Hold briefly, then come back to your plank and push up onto your hands.

4. Hold (keep back straight) for a few counts and then press back into a downward dog, stretching heels to the floor and letting your chest sag gently through your arms.

5. Come back into plank, lower down to the elbows and repeat entire movement for three repetitions.

Dips

1. Sit on a chair or bench and balance on your hands, palms flat against the seat. Move your backside forward until it's in front of the step, keeping your legs straight.

2. Bend your elbows and lower down until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Push back up and repeat for 16 reps.

Body-weight squat

1. Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

2. Hold your arms straight out in front at shoulder level, parallel to the floor. Keep your torso as upright as you can for entire movement, with lower back slightly arched.

3. Keep abs tight and lower your body as far as you can by pushing hips back and bending your knees. Keep heels flat on the ground.

4. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position. That's one repetition. Do 15 to 20 repetitions.


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