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Fitness experts share which exercises they rely on to work their core. By Melissa Romero

Sure, the current weather doesn’t exactly scream, “Bathing suit weather!” But it’s never too early to start getting in shape for summer, right?

In our never-ending pursuit of six-pack abs, we turned to the pros for some advice. While they all say crunches alone won’t result in the flat tummy we so desire, there are certain exercises that can put you on the right track. Read on for exercises that local personal trainers promise will work you to your core.

Bosu-Medicine Ball Spider-Man

Perform for one minute with or without pushup.

Get in plank position, with your hands gripping the Bosu ball and your feet on top of a medicine ball. Slowly bring your right knee to your elbow. Release and repeat on the other side.

This tongue-twister of an exercise is one of Chris Perrin’s favorites. “I love doing core exercises on an unstable environment like a Bosu or Swiss ball,” he says. Doing so targets more of your core muscles “as your body fights to regain stability.”

Mountain Climber

15 reps for beginners, 30 for intermediate, and 50 for advanced.

“Not only does this exercise work your core,” says personal trainer Errick McAdams, “but it also works as cardio.” Keep your hips low and drive your knees to your chest while keeping your core tight.

The Plank

3 sets of 10 for 20 breaths each

Chances are your plank form needs some work, says Josef Brandenburg of The Body You Want in Georgetown. Remember, you should feel it in your core, not your neck, shoulders, or lower back. Once all of your joints are aligned, start breathing. Says Brandenburg, “Hold your plank for breaths, not for time.” (Check out our five plank variations to up the ante.)

The Bicycle Crunch

Two to three sets of 20 to 30 reps on each side.

How does Nike personal trainer Deanna Jefferson get those rock-hard abs? The bicycle crunch. “The key to a bicycle crunch is being sure one leg is fully extended and focusing on bringing your shoulder—as opposed to your elbow—toward the opposite knee for the ultimate contraction,” she says. Why it works: It targets all of your core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, which are the deeper ab muscle fibers.

Bonus: The Alphabet

The alphabet is one of our favorite ways to end a workout. Lie on your back and place your arms at your side (for extra support, place your hands under the small of your back). With your legs in the air, trace the entire alphabet (or your full name). As your legs move, it’s your core that will be doing all the work.

Posted at 11:54 AM/ET, 03/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Work every muscle to the bone with this seriously tough calorie-burner. By Melissa Romero
This gym-friendly holiday workout will blast away calories and fat after a day of eating holiday cookies and egg nog. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Last week we shared the 2013 No-Gym Holiday Workout. This time, we’re putting that treadmill to good use with a second fat-blasting workout provided by personal trainer Errick McAdams. Fair warning: It’s a tough one, so get ready to sweat. 

Warm-Up
1-mile run on the treadmill. 

Round 1

15 lat pull downs (Always pull bar down in front of head and choose a weight that makes the last three reps challenging, but not impossible.)

15 pushups (from the knees if necessary)

15 bodyweight squats

45 jumping jacks

Perform three sets

Round 2

Run half mile on the treadmill at a faster pace than your mile

Do two sets of round one at 12 reps per exercise and 36 jumping jacks

Round 3 

Run a quarter mile on the treadmill at a faster pace than the half mile

Do at one set of round one at 10 reps per exercise and 30 jumping jacks

Finish

Stretch

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 12/19/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Torch major calories this holiday season without ever stepping foot in a crowded gym. By Melissa Romero
Get ready to torch major calories this holiday season with personal trainer Errick McAdam's no-gym, high-intensity workout. Photograph via Shutterstock.

The holiday season is in full swing—and so is the potential to pack on the calories. Blame it on the countless holiday parties tempting us with delicious desserts, cocktails, and hearty winter comfort foods. But how are we supposed to make time for the gym when there’s so much to do before the year ends? We don’t have to, thanks to personal trainer Errick McAdams’ no-gym holiday workout. You may have to venture outside for this calorie-busting workout, but the two-part warm up will have you working up a sweat in no time.

Want to keep it indoors? Consider swapping the sprint portion for 15 seconds of jumping rope instead.

Warm up
30 jumping jacks
15 burpees (without push-up or jump)
Perform 3 sets.

Warm Up Part 2
20 high-knees in place.
20 butt kicks in place
Perform 2 sets.

The Workout
15-second sprint: Run as fast as you can while counting to 10 in your head. Stop running at 15.
Do 5, 10, or 15 push-ups depending on fitness level. (Regular push-ups or push-ups on your knees.)
Perform 10 sets.

Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 12/12/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Get your heart pumping and work on speed with this outdoor workout. By Melissa Romero
Meridian Hill Park offers a great set of stairs to perform the Up and Over workout, but any stairs will do. Photograph via Flickr user NCinDC.

Sometimes all you need is a good set of stairs to work up a sweat. Add a jump rope to the mix and you’ve got a heart-pumping routine, says personal trainer Errick McAdams. Earlier this year McAdams wowed us with his Meridian Hill Park workout. This time around, he has another one that can be performed anywhere with a set of stairs. McAdams recommends starting at the main stairs of Meridian Hill Park on 16th Street, but feel free to modify the workout to your location.

Equipment: Stairs, jump rope, and yoga bricks.

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Posted at 02:25 PM/ET, 07/10/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Squeeze in one of these quick calorie blasters during your next vacation. By Melissa Romero

Between all that grilling and hours by the pool, how do you find the time to exercise during the July Fourth weekend—or any vacation, for that matter? Easily, thanks to this handy guide of super-quick workouts. All of them take less than ten minutes and serve as a perfect excuse for indulging in seconds of barbecue guilt-free.

Totally Armored by Laurent 
Total time: 5 minutes

Photographs via Shutterstock.

Before you bare arms in your bathing suit, give them a quick tone with personal trainer Laurent Amzallag’s workout.

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Posted at 01:20 PM/ET, 07/03/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Torch major calories and burn fat in just four minutes. By Melissa Romero
A new study shows that the four-minute Tabata workout burns 13.5 calories in one minute, making it five times more effective than a traditional cardio workout. Photograph via Equinox.

We’ve long been proponents of the Tabata workout, which somehow leaves us sweating and aching in just four minutes. In fact, a new study proves that the Tabata workout is five times more effective than engaging in traditional cardio. Participants who performed a sequence of 20 seconds of squat jumps and 10 seconds of rest eight times burned 13.5 calories per minute.

If you’ve yet to try Tabata, we’ve got you covered. Read on for various Tabata workouts you can do on your own or at local fitness studios and gyms—and be prepared to feel the burn.

Bike: Tabata at Biker Barre 
Biker Barre claims this class will leave you breathless—and we can attest to that after trying it out one night. Expect plenty of sprints and hills for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest in this high-energy, fast-paced cycling class.

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Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 06/26/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Get strong arms in just three simple exercises with personal trainer Laurent Amzallag’s workout. By Melissa Romero
You can get toned arms in a three-step workout that takes less than five minutes of your time. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Last week we shared local personal trainers’ favorite arm exercises, from pushups to pullups. This week, trainer Laurent Amzallag has put some of his favorite arm-toning exercises—tricep dips and bicep curls included—into one super-quick strength session. Tack it onto your next workout and feel the burn.

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Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 05/15/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
A workout that burns fat, requires little equipment, and takes less than ten minutes? Sounds too good to be true. By Melissa Romero
High-intensity interval training has been proven to burn fat quickly in a short amount of time. Photographs courtesy of the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Journal.

A workout recently published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but we busy Washingtonians may appreciate that it takes just seven minutes, requires barely any equipment, and works the entire body. Now there really are no excuses.

Using high-intensity circuit training, the workout is designed for ultimate fat-burning while performing 12 exercises for 30 seconds each. The fitness trainers who created the workout note that it’s not the best way to gain “absolute” strength, power, or endurance—but if you’re crunched for time, it will serve you well.

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Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 05/10/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
DC fitness experts share the secrets to getting muscular arms the natural way. By Melissa Romero
A recent report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that arm lifts were the most popular plastic surgery procedure in 2012. Personal trainers say it's possible to get toned and muscular arms with the right exercises. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Blame it on Michelle Obama: The most popular plastic surgery of 2012 was the arm lift. Last year 15,000 US women went under the knife to remove loose skin from the backs of their arms. That’s a 4,478 percent increase in the rate of that surgery in the past decade.

For the rest of us who would rather get killer arms the natural—and less painful—way, local personal trainers are here to help. We rounded up six of their go-to arm-toning exercises for you to try next time you’re at the gym.

Tricep Dips

A favorite among a majority of the fitness pros we polled, bench dips work the triceps and are ideal because they can be performed almost anywhere, says trainer Elizabeth Brooks.

How to do it: Place your hands behind you on the edge of a steady chair or bench and keep knees bent. Bend elbows to 90 degrees (dip). Extend the elbows to starting position and repeat. (For more of a challenge, straighten your legs.)

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Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 05/08/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Because the weather is—finally—feeling like spring. By Melissa Romero
Research shows that those who exercise outdoors report higher levels of happiness and commitment to working out. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

We love the outdoors. Problem is, nice weather hasn’t exactly been consistent recently. Fortunately, this week is looking up, so we rounded up some great outdoor workouts you can finally try.

Need more convincing? Research shows that those who spend more time outdoors report higher commitment to exercise and lower levels of depression.

A Beginner’s Rowing Workout
Time: 32 minutes
Muscles worked: Core and legs

The water may still be freezing but it’ll feel great after this rowing workout whipped up by the folks at Capital Rowing Club.


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Posted at 11:05 AM/ET, 05/01/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()