8 One-Minute Better Body Tricks
1. Do a Kegel while you crunch.
Contract your pelvic-floor muscles—the ones that you use to stop the flow of urine—as you lift and lower. “This will help you recruit more of the entire abdominal group and make the muscles work harder,” says Michele Olson, Ph.D., a professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama.
2. Close your eyes on the ball.
"Doing abdominal moves on a stability ball with your eyes closed is extra challenging," says Nick Martella, a fitness trainer at Sky Athletic Club in Rockville Centre, New York. "Because you don’t have a focal point,
your body senses that it’s in an unstable environment and your core muscles have to work harder to stay balanced."
3. Target your belly during strength-training breaks.
That minute between weight sets is valuable workout time. Take advantage by filling it with ab moves. You won't have to do crunches at the end of your workout (when you may be tired out), and it'll keep your heart rate elevated, upping your calorie burn.
4. Bump up the resistance.
"To sculpt any muscle you need to add resistance, and since your arms are extended in this exercise, it's more difficult," says Ellen Barrett, founder of buffgirlfitness.com and star of the new video Crunch: Fat-Burning Pilates (Anchor Bay, $9.95). Grab a pair of dumbbells or a medicine ball. Lie back with knees bent, feet flat. Extend arms straight back so that your biceps are next to your ears and dumbbells are about an inch off the floor. With abs tight, slowly crunch up and down, keeping arms stationary. Do two sets of 15 lifts.
5. Slo-mo your moves.
"Take four counts to lift and two to lower," says Peter Francis, Ph.D., a professor of exercise and nutritional sciences at San Diego State University. "Research has shown that abdominal-muscle activity is significantly greater when lifting than when lowering," he explains. "When you slow down the upward phase, you spend more time in the most beneficial part of the exercise." At this rate, you should be able to do only about 10 crunches per minute.
6. Lunge day and night.
First thing in the morning and last thing before bedtime, do five rear lunges (step back and lower until front thigh is parallel to floor) on each leg and then do five squats, suggests Lawrence Biscontini, a Reebok master trainer and group fitness manager for Wyndham's Golden Door Spa in Puerto Rico. You'll definitely notice the difference in your rear view: "This one-minute addition to your day adds up to 300 lunges and 150 squats per month. That's a lot of leg and butt toning," he says
7. Tighten your tush while you wait.
Make use of your downtime -- standing in line, sitting in the car or waiting in the doctor's office -- by squeezing and releasing your gluteal muscles for one minute, suggests Biscontini. "And when you're finished, draw your navel toward your spine for 30 seconds to work the deep abdominal muscles."
8. Give your triceps an extra boost.
"After finishing a set of overhead triceps extensions, hold the weight up with elbows slightly bent. Squeeze your elbows in toward your head 12 to 15 times as an extra push for the backs of the arms," suggests Liz Neporent, a FITNESS advisory board member and creative director at Plus One Fitness in New York City.