You want a svelte Hollywood body, but aren't sure which exercises will both elongate and slim. Take a cue from celebs by considering Pilates. From Reese Witherspoon to Anna Paquin to Cameron Diaz, female stars swear by this exercise program for giving their bodies a toned, lean look. Pilates slims while increasing flexibility, coordination, strengthening and endurance without adding muscle, creating body definition and the appearance of length.
Forward Spine Stretch
Stretching your spine gives the appearance of a longer torso and a slimmer waistline. The forward spine stretch is a staple move that uses no special equipment. Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched. Stretch your arms out over your legs. Imagine stretching your spine as you breathe in and sit up straight. Round your shoulders, neck and head as you reach past your toes and stretch forward while breathing out. Breathe in deeply, hold for one second, then slowly breathe out. As you breathe out, draw in your stomach muscles. Breathe in as you sit up.
Imagine the stretching action involved when wringing out wet clothing, this is similar to what happens during a spine twist. The twisting action works the back and stomach muscles stretching them so they elongate and slim the torso. Sit with your feet stretched in front of you and your arms out to the side. Breathe in and stretch your spine. As you breathe out, tighten your belly and twist from side to side. Breathe in as you come to center and breathe out on the twist. Only move your upper body; your legs and hips should stay put on the floor or mat.
Front Leg Pull
Besides an elongated trunk, another secret to appearing taller is having slender legs. Front leg pulls stretch the leg muscles, giving the legs a longer look. With your arms behind you and your fingers pointing toward your feet, for support, sit on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you. While keeping your body straight, lift your hips and bottom from the floor. Lift one leg as high as you can without your hips moving. Hold this position for three seconds before lowering your leg and switching sides.
Reverse Leg Pull
Finish your brief Pilates slimming and elongation workout with a reverse leg pull to work the muscles of the stomach, chest and legs. Tighten your stomach and get into a pushup position. Choose a leg to begin with, lifting it 2 to 5 inches into the air. Hold your leg there for three seconds while pointing your toes toward the floor. Slowly lower your leg and repeat with the opposite leg. Continue the exercise, alternating legs.
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.