If you want to tone and tighten your midsection — all the way around, from front to back — this exercise is for you. Demonstrated by personal trainer and fitness instructor Amy Dixon, who uses it on her “Give Me 10: Core Cuts” DVD, the kneeling lat pull lean-back accomplishes a lot at once. So, dust off that stability ball, get your mat and head down to the floor.
What it does
This total body combination strengthens your core and the harder-to-train muscles in your back while stretching your quadriceps and strengthening your hamstrings and glutes. Your shoulders also work as you press the ball overhead.
How to do it
Kneel on your mat with your knees hip-distance apart. With your elbows against your sides, make a triangle with your arms in front of you, fingers touching, and place them on top of the stability ball. Roll out over the ball, pressing your arms against it, keeping your back and head in one straight line. Make sure you’re not collapsing your chest onto the ball.
Then, bracing your core, pull back to the starting position, pinching your shoulder blades and bringing your elbows back to your sides. Remember to keep your body in one long line instead of sticking your bottom out and back. (Beginners, however, who find the move too challenging, can move their rear back as they pull back from the extension.)
Then, pick up the ball and hold it in front of your chest as you lean back slightly, hinging in one line from knees to head. Lean back only as far as your range of motion allows. Return to center and press the ball up, directly over your shoulders. Return the ball to the floor. Repeat the sequence.
Work up to three sets of 12 repetitions each.