Courtesy of YouBeautyMary Helen Bowers demonstrates this week’s move.

My shorts fit again. Well, almost—they’re still a little tight, but I’ll take it.

I had a baby 11 weeks ago and have been working out with Mary Helen Bowers for three of them, the ballet guru who whipped Natalie Portman into Oscar-winning shape for “Black Swan.” She’s developed a highly effective body-whittling workout to help us all get ballerina bodies, and she makes it so easy to do so—via her new book, “Ballet Beautiful,” her DVD, or online live classes—there’s really no excuse not to. (Believe me, if there was, I would have found it.)

Working out with Bowers has been essential in sculpting my body into almost pre-baby shape, and today’s move—the Side Leg Lift—is key to that. It targets the outer thighs, legs and waist, quickly replacing those jiggly areas with muscles (Yes, muscles. It is possible.) that add subtle tone without looking bulky. 

MORE: Try This Butt-Whittling Bridge Exercise

But I’ve also been following Bowers’ nutritional advice, which she talks about in-depth in her book. “Dieting is a waste of time,” says Bowers.  She’s right:  Research has shown that, when you’re trying to lose weight, exercise can help, but it’s really your caloric intake that’s essential to dropping extra pounds. My favorite eating tip from Bowers? Ingest frequent small, healthy snacks or meals instead of three daily gut-bombs, to speed metabolism and keep blood sugar levels from dropping (that’s when our body will crave sugar and drive us to make unhealthy food choices!). 

MOVE: The Side Leg Lift 

WHAT IT DOES: You think this exercise is all thighs, thighs, thighs (that’s where you feel the burn), but it helps whittle your waist, too! It tightens and tones the muscles while elongating the limbs. If your body isn’t burning by the time you’re through, you’re not giving it your all. “Remember, if your muscles are not burning, they’re not working,” says Bowers. “You can always stop and take a five minute stretch, but otherwise, keep going. I find it’s easier to keep it up if you don’t stop!” 

HOW TO DO IT (watch the moving image above to see Mary Helen Bowers demonstrating the move)

  1. On your right side, bend your knees and bring your legs in to a 45 degree angle from your torso. Find a comfortable position for your upper body. You’ll complete the sequence on your right side, and then your left side. 
  2. Lift your left leg and straighten it, pointing your foot as you straighten it and stretching through the knee. Bend knee back above the right leg, keeping it raised. At the same time, position your left arm so it’s parallel to your extended leg. As you bend your knee, raise your arm up over your head. Keep your hips parallel, your shoulders down and your stomach pulled in tight. Do eight counts, four sets.
  3. Hold your leg out straight for one last count of eight.

Want More? Try Bower’s Butt Series Part 2, an intense 15 minute workout session that works the outer thigh, includes this super effective move—it’s only $8! Check out to get started on your own workout.

MORE: Flatten Your Stomach With This Ballet Move