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Strengthen Your Core for Bikini Season

By Jodi Helmer
WebMD Magazine - Feature

Before slipping into your bathing suit, consider trying a tummy-toning fitness regimen, recommends Jennifer Cohen, a Los Angeles-based personal trainer. "When we're showing skin, we want to be as toned as possible," says Cohen, co-author of Strong Is the New Skinny: How to Eat, Live, and Move to Maximize Your Power (out in September). "A combination of cardio and strength training is essential to burn fat and calories and build muscle."

These three moves, done at least three times a week along with calorie-burning cardio, will help you look sleeker and stronger in your swimsuit.

Basic Crunch With Leg Extensions

This exercise is "an easy move that has more impact than a basic crunch," Cohen says.

1. Lie on the floor with your fingertips behind your head (don't pull on your head) and your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart.

2. Exhale, lift your shoulder blades off the ground, straighten your right leg, and lift it as high as possible, keeping your left foot on the floor.

3. Inhale and return to starting position.

4. Repeat with the left leg.

5. Do 12 to 15 reps.

Leg Drops

"This move forces you to engage your abs," Cohen says. "It works the lower abdominals to help tighten a tummy bulge."

1. Lie on floor with your legs straight, feet together, and arms at your sides with palms facing down.

2. Keeping your back flat on the floor, engage your abs, and raise your legs to a 90-degree angle so the bottoms of your feet are facing the ceiling. (If you can't raise your legs this high, get them as high as possible.)

3. Lower your legs, letting them hover about an inch off the ground, and hold for 5 seconds.

4. Raise your legs back toward the ceiling.

5. Do 12 to 15 reps.

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