I have received a lot of email questions lately regarding post baby body problems from toning up the tummy to losing the pregnancy weight. Here is a question that I just received from Australia:
I'm slowly shedding weight after having my second child through healthy eating and breastfeeding I suspect. I'm happy with my progress (gee it feels good to say that!) however, as you can imagine my stomach area needs strengthening, particularly my lower abdominals after a surprise c section 5 months ago. What are some exercises that can help tone this area? I wasn't wearing bikinis before babies but I would love to get rid of my fat pouch that hangs low just so I feel more confident. Please help!
If you find yourself in a similar situation and you do not even know how to start strengthening your body then start here. If you are wanting more of a challenge then check back next week for a second post baby body routine.
We need to strengthen your abdominals from the deepest layer to the surface. Those “6 pack” abs are going to be forgotten for this routine and we are going to focus on your Transverse Abdominals, which are the deepest abdominal muscles that you have and are the foundation of your core.
To find these muscles in your body I want you to lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You are going to imagine that you have a grape under the small of your back and I want you to pretend as though you are applying gentle pressure to the grape, not enough to squish it but just enough to feel it. You are going to focus on this for all of these exercises.
The second step is I want you to imagine that you have a wire that runs from one hip bone to the other and after taking a deep breath in, you will exhale and imagine pulling that wire tight (almost like it is pulling your hip bones together). You should simply feel a dull sensation deep in your lower abdominals and if you were to press two fingers deep into your abdominals just beside your hip bones you should feel some sort of tightness.
Once you have found these muscles and mastered activating them you can progress to these exercises. Start with 10 of each and work up from there. Focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed and make sure that your pelvis is not rocking from side to side or forward and back.
Lying on your back lift one foot slowly off the ground ensuring that you maintain a level pelvis and a neutral spine (remember our grape!). Keeping the leg bent to 90 degrees, lift it until your knee is in line with your hip and then slowly lower it to the floor and repeat on the other side. It is very important that as you switch from one leg to the other you do not allow your pelvis to switch.
This exercise is similar to heel lifts except you are going to extend your leg away from you, as if you are sliding your heel along the floor, rather than bringing your knee towards you. Start by extending it high and as you get stronger you can extend your leg closer to the ground. Focus on keeping your pelvis still as your leg extends and when you switch legs make sure you use your core to keep your pelvis from rocking side to side.
Double leg lifts
This exercise is similar to heel lifts. Lying on your back, keeping your knees bent at 90 degrees lift one leg as you did in the heel lifts. The difference here is you are going to keep that leg lifted and then lift the other leg so both are now in the air. Slowly lower the first leg back to the floor and then the second. The work in this exercise comes while maintaining a level pelvis as you lift your feet off the floor and preventing your pelvis from tilting forward as you drop your heels back to the floor.
Double heel drops
On your back start with both of your feet in the air with your legs bent at 90 degrees. Keeping one leg still drop the other towards the floor, lightly touching your heel down and then return it back to its starting position and repeat on the other side. As you drop your heel down engage your core muscles to keep your spine in a neutral position and your hips from rocking forward.
Double heel slides
Just as in the heel slides you will extend one leg away from your body, starting high and working on lowering the slide as you become stronger. The difference here is both legs will remain in the air, rather than having one on the floor.