You don't need those special parallel dip bars at the gym — all you need are two sturdy chairs with backs that are the same height. Chairs work even better because they lift your body high enough so you can do more variations.
Position the chairs on either side of your body with the seats facing away from you — make sure the backs are directly underneath your shoulders. Place your hands on the backs of the chairs, and instead of jumping, use your upper-body strength to lift your feet off the floor. Keep your arms strong as you swing your legs straight forward so they're parallel with the ground. Then bend your knees and swing your feet behind you. Repeat this move as many times as you can. Then try some of these other ab-mazing variations:
- Hold with the knees bent and alternate swinging one leg forward at a time.
- Begin with the legs hanging down and raise and lower both legs together for a few reps.
- Begin with the legs hanging down and alternate raising and lowering one leg at a time.
- Bicycle your legs in the air forward for a few deep breaths and then backward.
- Begin with the legs hanging down. Raise the knees as high as you can, then lower the legs back down and repeat.
- Lift your knees as high as you can to your chest and hold as long as you can.
You can do this core and upper-body workout anywhere you can find two chairs — at home, in the office, or on vacation. If your neighborhood park has parallel bars, you can even be mom of the year by squeezing in a quickie workout while watching your kiddos play. You might want to pack some workout gloves though — this exercise is tough on the palms.