Do you feel like you are doomed and never going to get your waist back because you had kids? Maybe you have just reached a point in life that your metabolism is slowing down and you are not happy with the lack of tone in your stomach muscles. You may be looking down thinking it’s a helpless cause but I am here to tell you that a tight toned tummy is possible after having a baby or multiple pregnancies or at any age or stage of life. What I want to share with you are the most effective abdominal exercises I have done to get my tummy back in shape after having kids.It’s all about engaging the core properly to active the deep muscles and remind them to pull in tight!
I will say my stomach was a ball of flab after pregnancies. This is normal right after so don’t be alarmed! After about 3-6 months I noticed my stomach went back down tremendously but a small lower pouch remained and I was lacking any definition.
Along with following a paleo/primal diet to get my body into fat burning mode I did exercises daily to target the transverse abdominal muscles. I focused on my core and all the muscles that surround the midsection. Using core stability along with the 3 following exercises are crucial to getting to those lower ab’s and toning up!
Core stability focuses on three techniques called drawing in, hollowing, and bracing. This concept you will find focused on in most Pilates classes. These are not necessarily things you need to do at the gym. Instead this is the new way you will walk and carry yourself! You will be toning all day long!
First, “draw in” which is simply suck in your belly button and hold. Don’t let go and slouch and let the tummy go, keep it tight.
Second, hollowing, is drawing the navel maximally in toward the spine. Think of a kegel exercise (I am sure we have all heard of the benefit of those post pregnancy, so you won’t pee yourself every time you sneeze for the rest of your life.) With that idea in you mind pull up your pelvic floor too.
Lastly, brace your abs. Standing with the feet shoulder width apart just activate your abdominal muscles, your back, and pull up the pelvic floor.
Try doing these techniques during your daily activities and when you are sitting at the computer or driving. This will begin to wake-up and tighten the lower core and help with that little stubborn pouch. You are retraining your muscles to be pulled in, contracted, yet flexible so they remain this way as you go about your day and breathe.
THREE of the BEST post pregnancy tummy trimming exercises (I did these religiously 3-5 times a week).
1. Its time to swap out the traditional crunch for front and side planks. Be sure to zip up your tummy while supporting your weight on your forearms. Hold for as long as you can and do a couple sets. Switch to each side holding yourself up with your arms and again hold and do a couple of sets. Planks when done correctly are not easy!
- Work your upper and lower abs, oblique’s (sides), and your lower back.
- They build up and strengthen inner stabilizer muscles
- They promote good posture
- But most important is they teach you abs to stay contracted in a regular standing position! Bye-bye pouchy tummy!
2. The Pilates “teaser”! This exercise if very effective at activating all of the abdominal muscles. It also teaches you how to breathe correctly when engaging the abdominal muscles.(This is great because even unconsciously you will be holding in your tummy and not letting go when you breathe.) Here is how you do it-lie on the floor with your arms extended above you head and both legs lifted in the air at about 45-degree angle. Take a big inhale and lift your entire upper body off the mat keeping legs up. Hold and reverse by inhaling and rolling back down. Doing a few of these in a row and you will be feeling those abs. Here is a helpful video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9Mv0IYNh-g
3. Pull –ups and weighted squats. Yep, I bet you did not expect to hear that but believe or not both of these exercises engage and work the abs tremendously. Try doing pull-ups assisted with a band first until you can work up to doing them without. Then try for more each time and switch your grip from forward to back. Weighted squats do not have to be done with extremely heavy weighted bars. Just grab some hand weights and amount that is challenging for you and squat. Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps focusing on engaging the core while you are doing it.
Walking around with core stability and adding in these functional exercises will help with toning your stomach. Doing this along with focusing on a Paleo/primal diet and getting your body into fat burning mode is the winning combination for a rockin midsection!