When we pondered whether there’s just one, no-fail exercise that could get us a Miley Cyrus-esque midsection, it seemed only appropriate to go to the woman who helped: Mari Winsor, leader of the Pilates movement and founder/owner of eponymous studio Winsor Pilates, has earned her legions of fans (many A-listers among them) with highly effective, body-sculpting workouts that get major results—hence, Cyrus’ incredible transformation a few years ago. And fortunately, there is a singular, ab-torching exercise that she recommends.
“Criss-Cross crunches are great as they engage all of your abdominal muscles, especially your obliques,” says Winsor. (Your obliques are the muscles that frame your waist, which means that they’re key to target when your trying to whittle it down.) That being said, cranking out these specialized crunches won’t get you the stomach of your dreams alone—while it’ll definitely tone those muscles like nothing else, be sure you’re following a clean diet so those newly defined abs can be seen. Hello, crop top.
“Make sure you are twisting from your waist and not your shoulders,” Winsor says. “And to maximize the stretch in your neck, try to look at the elbow corresponding to the side you are twisting to.” Follow her step-by-step instructions below.
- Lie flat on your back with your whole spine on the mat. Take a moment to lengthen the spine and relax your neck.
- Put both hands behind your hand either stacked (one hand on top of the other), or with your fingertips by your ears. Make sure your shoulders are down and your elbows are open.
- Bring both legs up to a 90 degree angle.
- Bring your right leg in towards your chest, extending your left leg out to a 45 degree angle from the floor. At the same time, twist your upper body to the right, meeting your left elbow to your right knee and hold for two counts.
- Switch. As you bring in your left leg into your chest, extend your right leg out while twisting your upper body to the left meeting your right shoulder to your left knee and hold for two counts.
- Repeat for a total of 5 reps on each side.