Tag Archives: core workouts

How to Do a Side Plank for Flatter Abs and More

How to do a side plank for flat abs and more as demonstrated by Chicago Women’s Weight Loss Coach Stephanie Mansour and Jenny Milkowski of Fox 32.

Side Plank with Stephanie Mansour & Jenny Milkowski

Looking for an exercise that works your whole body for long, lean muscles and an overall toned look? If you want to build a strong core and flatter abs while also toning your arms, legs, back, and more, I recommend adding side planks to your workout routine.

When I create custom workout plans for my private weight loss coaching clients, I consider it part of my job to help them understand the benefits of exercise beyond developing muscle tone and burning fat. Doing side planks regularly will also help you improve your balance and concentration, which will help you prevent injuries, add to your overall conditioning, boost your performance and confidence, and reduce stress.

Here’s how to do a side plank:

For a beginner side plank…

  • Start on your side with your elbow under your shoulder and your hand flat on the ground.
  • Stack one leg on top of the other with your knees slightly bent and put the other hand on your hip.
  • Raise your hip off of the ground, keeping your legs together and bent. Squeeze your glutes, keep your abs engaged, and pull your hips upward as if by a rope from the ceiling.
  • Hold and breathe
  • Return to the starting position and repeat until you feel the burn

For a more advanced side plank…

  • Start on your side with your elbow under your shoulder and your hand flat on the ground.
  • Stack one leg on top of the other, straighten your legs and put the other hand on your hip.
  • Raise your hip off of the ground, keeping your legs together and straight. Squeeze your glutes, keep your abs engaged, and pull your hips upward as if by a rope from the ceiling.
  • Hold and breathe
  • Return to the starting position and repeat until you feel the burn

For an even more advanced side plank (as demonstrated in the video)…

  • Start on your side with your elbow under your shoulder and push up to straighten your arm so you are propping yourself up with your hand.
  • Stack one leg on top of the other, straighten your legs, and put the other hand on your hip or reach to the sky.
  • Raise your hip off of the ground, keeping your legs together and straight. Squeeze your glutes, keep your abs engaged, and pull your hips upward as if by a rope from the ceiling.
  • Raise your top leg in the air and lower
  • Hold and breathe

As you can see, there are many variations of the side plank exercise you can incorporate to challenge yourself and enhance your results. The key is to keep your abs, core, arms, back, glutes, and leg muscles engaged throughout the entire exercise.

Watch the video for a quick demonstration of how to do a side plank.

Join the FREE 21-Day Challenge with weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour for a simple but powerful workout plan, an easy-to-follow eating guide, and fun confidence-boosting exercises.

Pilates Roll Over: Advanced Core-Strengthening Exercise for Flatter Abs

Pilates Roll Over for Flatter Abs and Core Strength Demonstrated by Chicago Women’s Weight Loss Coach Stephanie Mansour and Jenny Milkowski of Fox 32.

Pilates Roll Over Demonstration

Pilates is one of the best ways to build core strength, develop and flatten your abs, and strengthen your back. Core strength workouts are exercises that focus on the center of the body, which includes deep abdominal muscles, the muscles closest to your spine, especially the lower back, and the hips and buttocks

Core strengthening workouts will help you to improve your overall fitness, your ability to perform daily activities, and sports performance.  Because of the slow and controlled moves of Pilates,  a Pilates workout is easy on the body with minimal impact on the joints, which makes it a great option to ease into fitness if you are overweight or out of shape.

Many of the women I work with in my private weight loss coaching programs choose to practice Pilates because it helps them gain long lean muscles, increases their flexibility, and they are able to a enjoy a well-balanced and conditioned body with improved overall feelings of well-being. I also recommend Pilates because when you do it regularly, it can help you prevent injuries and even alleviate chronic back pain.

The Step It Up With Steph Signature Slimdown DVD includes a quick core-strengthening Pilates workout!

In addition to the physical benefits of Pilates, I believe every woman should incorporate some Pilates into her workout routine, whenever possible, because it also helps improve your mental state. Pilates requires concentration and forces you to focus on your body movements and your breath, rather than the distractions of outside stress. Research has also found that Pilates boosts brain power and improves cognitive function.

I teamed up with my favorite workout and Pilates partner, Jenny Milkowski, to demonstrate an advanced Pilates core-strengthening exercise. Watch the video below:

If you’re ready to try an advanced core-strengthening exercise for flatter abs, here’s how to do a Pilates roll over:

  • Start by laying flat on your back with your legs together and your arms at your sides, palms facing down.
  • Make sure your neck is long and your chest is open as you inhale.
  • Keeping your legs together, extend them straight up toward the ceiling until you reach a 90-degree angle.
  • Exhale while using your abdominal muscles to draw your hips and legs over your body until your legs are parallel to your chest. You will be releasing the lower back and lifting your butt off the ground with your abs.
  • Roll back onto the wide part of the shoulders. Feet should be flexed and toes should be toward the ground behind your head. Use your arms to balance you but lift primarily with your abdominal muscles.
  • Inhale and lengthen the back of your legs through your heels and flex your feet. Widen your legs to shoulder-width apart in a V formation.
  • Exhale and use core control to allow your legs to lower toward your chest while slowly lengthening your spine, rolling down, placing each vertebrae one-at-a-time on the mat, until your legs are again at a 90-degree angle — feet flexed and stretch through the heels.
  • Keeping your legs together, lower them slowly.
  • Begin the exercise again and repeat the process.

Try it and let us know what you think! Again, remember, this is an advanced core-strengthening exercise. For a quick easy-to-follow Pilates routine, grab a copy of the Step It Up with Steph Signature Slimdown DVD.

Pilates Open-Leg Rocker: Intermediate Core Strengthening Exercise for Flatter Abs

Pilates Open-Leg Rocker Exercise for Core Strength and Flat Abs Demonstrated by Chicago Women’s Weight Loss Coach Stephanie Mansour and Jenny Milkowski of Fox 32.

open leg rocker pilates

As a weight loss coach for women, I often recommend Pilates to my private weight loss coaching clients. Pilates workouts put minimal impact on the joints and the exercises, in general, are easy on the body.  

In particular, Pilates is one of the best types of exercise to build your core strength. Doing Pilates core strength exercises consistently will help you slim down, create long toned muscles, and improve your overall fitness and conditioning.

Yes, Pilates core strengthening exercises can help flatten your abs–something we all want– but it’s also important to note that core strengthening exercises help to improve your posture and overall well-being as well.

What you may not realize is having good posture and strong abs is important for good health. Standing up or sitting up straight and tucking in your tummy is not just something to do to make you appear more confident and attractive–lengthening your spine and engaging your deep ab muscles is good for your spine health, helps you to avoid injuries and alleviate chronic pain, improves blood flow and oxygen, and protects your organs.

When doing Pilates exercises, be sure to concentrate on your breath as well as slow and controlled movements.

The Step It Up With Steph Signature Slimdown DVD includes a quick core-strengthening Pilates workout!

I teamed up with my favorite workout and Pilates partner, Jenny Milkowski, to demonstrate an intermediate Pilates core-strengthening exercise — the open-leg rocker. Watch the video below:

Here’s how to do the Pilates open-leg rocker:

  • Begin by sitting up tall on our sit bones, spine lengthened, abs activated.
  • Bend your knees and grab your ankles.
  • Next, balance your body between your tailbone and sit bones.
  • Lift and extend one leg and then the other, shoulder-width apart, by engaging your abdominals.
  • Inhale and roll back onto your shoulders, maintaining a c-curve in your back and keeping your head and neck elevated off the mat. Be sure to engage your abs to propel the movement.
  • Pause and hold briefly.
  • Exhale and bring your body back to an upright balanced position. Maintain the curve in your back and use your ab muscles to activate the movement.
  • Concentrate on your breath, engaging your core, and using slow controlled movements.
  • Repeat the exercise 5-10 times.

Keep in mind, the Pilates open-leg rocker is an intermediate core-strengthening exercise. For a quick easy-to-follow Pilates routine, grab a copy of the Step It Up with Steph Signature Slimdown DVD.

 

Weight Loss Workouts for Women: How to Properly Do a Squat

Join Chicago-based weight loss coach for women Stephanie Mansour as she shows Jenny Milkowski how to do a squat. Watch their squat competition, too!

In this video, I am showing Jenny Milkowski how to do the perfect squat–one of my favorite weight loss workouts for women.

You may be thinking that doing a squat is easy and that you have already have the perfect squat mastered. Think again!

Doing a perfect squat takes some practice, and there is a precise formula I present in the video to doing a perfect one.

Mastering “squatting” is essential for gaining leg muscle, so doing perfect squats will strengthen your quadriceps, calves and hamstrings. Your core and abs will also be worked through perfect squatting.

If you are looking to lessen your chances of getting injured while doing aerobic exercise (like running for instance), doing planks and other strength-training exercises are essential to be doing regularly.

Also, who doesn’t want to shape their legs, abs and butt? Squats are the perfect exercise for anyone!

Stephanie Mansour is a weight loss coach for women and is an on-air health and fitness expert in Chicago. Jenny Milkowski is from Fox Chicago and together, they record workouts in Chicago at Hi Fi Fitness!