Mommy pooch, mommy apron, tot tummy, racing stripes. Whatever name you call it, you want to get rid of it. Let's face it - pregnancy is HARD on our bodies, particularly our mid-section. Once you've gotten clearance to workout again, you can start this program. Getting your abs back in shape after having a baby is not easy but it can be done! Have faith!
First, let's deal with the easiest piece of the puzzle - Ab exercises! Those poor muscles were stretched to their limit and you need to whip them back into shape. Not only will your tummy be flat again but that nagging back pain may go away too. Woohoo - double whammy!
To start with, let's make sure you don't have diastasis recti or a separation of the muscular tissue. Do this quick test -
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
- Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline-parallel with your waistline- at the level of your belly button.
- With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
- Roll your upper body off the floor into a "crunch," making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis.
- Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis muscle. Test for separation at, above, and below your belly button.
Make sure you give your ab muscles time to truly recover after pregnancy. You'll want to wait to do this test until you've been cleared for exercise.
If it feels like you may have diastasis recti, consult your doctor before starting this or any exercise program. There are some specific rehabilitative exercises you'll want to do before starting a traditional ab program.
Now, on to the exercises! There are three phases of exercises. Please start with Phase 1 and work towards Phase 2 and 3 in order and when you feel ready. These Phases are designed so that you can do them every day. As you begin, please pay attention to your body. If you need to take a quick break, do so!
Phase 1 -
20 Standard Crunches
20 Crossover Cunches
20 Hip Raises
20 Bicycles (per side)
30 second plank (take a break ONLY when you absolutely must. Aim to hold the position the entire 30 seconds)
Phase 2 -
30 Roll Ups
30 Roll Backs
30 Russian Twists
30 X abs
1 minute Plank
Phase 3 -
40 Swimmer Crunches
40 Jack Knives
40 V Russian Twists
40 V Unicycles
1 minute Plank
You may have heard the phrase "Abs are made in the kitchen"? You can run to South America, do 1,000 crunches per day and if you're not eating well, you won't get rid of the fat around your mid-section. If you want a lean, flat mid-section, you have to clean up your diet.
What does that mean? First, no more junk. Cut out the sugar, the cakes, cookies, candy, ice cream, etc. Want something sweet? Eat a grape. Second, eliminate foods that naturally cause your to bloat. These foods are often the culprit when you have a bloated, gassy tummy.
Dairy - if cheese, milk and other dairy products upset your stomach, try reduced lactose or lactose free versions.
Apples and Pears - these fruits are healthy but too much of a good thing can cause bloating. Try eating half the fruit or peeling it first.
Beans - yes, everyone knows beans cause bloat. Eat less and enjoy them with quinoa or brown rice.
Broccoli, cabbage and asparagus - All healthy foods but they can make you pretty uncomfortable. Reduce the amount you eat and be sure to eat them with other foods.
Fatty foods - all that fat is slow to process, resulting in bloating.
Salty foods - hello, water retention! Avoid salty foods when possible. Drink lots of water if you can't avoid salty food altogether. (Mother-in-law cooks with a salt block not shaker??)
Carbonated Beverages - yep, your beer makes you poofy. Stay away from carbonated beverages, they will just make you burpy.
Third, to get those abs you want, you need to eat healthy food and eat it frequently. You should aim to eat 5-6 small meals per day. Make those meals balanced and healthy by enjoying mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain, unprocessed carbs and lean protein sources.
Last, CARDIO! Yep, you gotta lose a little weight to start seeing those abs. Aim for 30-45 minutes of cardio 5-6 times per week. You should be working hard enough so that you HAVE to breathe after saying this sentence - "Hello, my name is _______". If you can only get out one or two words, you're working too hard! Ease up! If you can carry on a conversation with no problem, you aren't working hard enough.
Getting your abs back into shape after a baby can be a daunting process. But you can do it! With a little determination and hard work, you can have better abs AFTER the baby than you did before!