Going to the gym can be like walking onto an overwhelming playground for grown-ups—so many toys, so little time! You just want to know: Which piece of equipment is the absolute best for transforming your trouble spots? And what the heck do you do with it to get fast and fabulous results?
To find out, we turned to the hottest trainers around and asked them to reveal the best workout gizmo for each goal—flat belly, toned thighs, etc.—plus the ultimate move to whip that area into amazing shape.
Workout like a pro
Read on for the ultimate picks and moves from Ramona Braganza, a Los Angeles–based celeb trainer whose clients include Jessica Alba and Halle Berry; Amy Dixon, a Santa Monica, California–based trainer, exercise physiologist, and fitness DVD star; and Health‘s own Kristin McGee, a New York City–based trainer and yoga and Pilates instructor with nine exercise DVDs to her credit.
To use this guide, pick the move designed for the area you want to target. Or put all the moves together and do two sets of each move (with no rest in between) for a 20-minute body-beautifying workout. Either way, do the moves four times a week, and you’ll start looking sleeker in just three weeks. Now that’s time well-spent.
The best tool for fab abs: Stability ball
Fab-ab move: Plank Tuck with a Twist
Here’s why: “This exercise works your core like no other,” McGee says. “You have to engage your entire transverse abdominals—the innermost layer of muscle that acts like a girdle—just to maintain your balance on the ball.” Pulling the ball in toward your chest pinpoints your hard-to-reach lower-ab muscles, and the twisting movement engages both your obliques (side-ab muscles) and rectus abdominus (the major ab muscle responsible for the hallowed six-pack). “By balancing on a large, unstable surface, you can’t cheat,” McGee explains. “It forces you to engage all of your ab muscles, front to back and side to side.”
The best tool for a beautiful butt: Plyo box
Beautiful-butt move: Box Jump
Here’s why: “A plyo box is a tremendous tool for training the glutes fast,” Dixon says. “You not only build great muscle but also get an added cardio benefit that helps trim inches.” It’s versatile, too—boxes come in a variety of heights and materials, including some with “give” that are easier on your joints. Why the Box Jump? “It’s a basic move in that it’s simply a squat jump up onto the box and a squat jump down—but there’s no quicker way to get results,” Dixon explains.
How-to: Box Jump
Stand facing a 12- to 18-inch plyo box with your feet hip-width apart. Push your butt back and squat down until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor (A), then push strongly into your feet to jump up onto the box, using your arms for momentum. Land gently in squat position (B), allowing the toes of each foot to hit before your heels (your feet should land at the same time). Push off with your heels and jump back down, landing softly, toes first, in squat position. Repeat for 30–60 seconds (depending on your strength)
No gym or plyo box? Do the move using a sturdy step or low bench. Or, skip the equipment and simply jump forward and backward instead of up and down.