When you are trying to lose pregnancy weight, the stomach fat area is one of the key areas of concern for many mums.
It is an area that mums want to lose weight from, and your core forms a big part of toning this area. Your core will help you to successfully lose this area of your pregnancy weight – you can read more about everything you need to know about stomach fat here.
Your core is more than just the six pack muscle we quite often refer to when we say someone has a ripped core.
You should examine yourself to find out what degree of muscle separation you have experienced before undertaking any post partum – core exercise (the gap needs to be under 2cm) or receive clearance from your Doctor.
How to examine yourself
Step 1 – In a lying position with knees bent, place your right hand behind your head.
Step 2 – With your left hand position your index finger and middle finger together and place them horizontally in the centreline of your stomach between your abdominals.
Step 3 – From this position slowly raise your head slightly off the floor using your right hand (positioned behind your head) for support. Make sure not to simply lift your head with your hand as this is a common error – you must perform one basic crunch to fully contract your abdominal muscles to get the best assessment of your separation.
Step 4 – Your abdominals will now be slightly contracting allowing you to see exactly how far your abdominals have separated.
Step 5 – If your index finger and middle finger (on your left hand) can still fit between your abdominals you will have Diastasis Recti of between 2 – 2.5cms. For every additional finger you can place in between your abdominals you should add 1cm extra to your total abdominal separation number. If you can only fit one finger between your abdominals you effectively have 1cm of separation and will be nearly healed.
If you discover you have more than a 1 – 2cm separation you should refrain from doing exercises such as crunches, sit-ups or pilates 100′s – all of which can put too much pressure on the abdominal muscles which have become separated during pregnancy.
You can join thousands of other new mums on our next 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge. To find out more and to start changing your weight today, you can click here.
If you do have muscle separation PLEASE see a physio before commencing exercise so they can examine you and advise on the level of separation. They will also advise the level of gentle exercise you can begin and when you will be ready to begin it.
About Core Exercises
The early days and weeks after having a baby are a time for rest and recovery. Just as you would take time out after running a marathon, now is the time to put your feet up and allow your energy levels, pelvic floor and perineum to recover. Performing simple pelvic floor and core exercises three times per day and walking within comfort is all you need to think about at this stage. If you are a new mum click here to read about information about when to start exercising and click here to see how to perform pelvic floor exercises
Foundations first: your core and pelvic floor
Your pelvic floor and core muscles are like the foundations of a building. Without sound integrity the building will collapse. The pelvic floor is imperative for bladder and bowel control. These muscles also work with the deep abdominal and back (core) muscles to help support and stabilise your spine.
It is no surprise that these muscle groups have been stretched and weakened during pregnancy and delivery. It is important that you attend to the recovery and control of these muscles before progressing your exercise routine and that they are always strong enough to support any exercise you are performing.
CORE STABILISING MUSCLES
Your deepest abdominal and back muscles work like an internal muscular corset to support your spine and pelvis. Train these muscles initially on their own and later progress to more challenging core exercises.
Engage your core
You can practice engaging your core in any position. Initially you may like to try standing, kneeling, sitting or lying on your side.
Place your hand on your lower abdomen, below your naval. In under your hand runs the deep abdominals which connect with internal back muscles to create a deep, supportive muscular belt.
Breathing naturally, lengthen your spine and relax your shoulders downwards.
Gently draw your lower abdomen towards your lower back, as though drawing your lower abdomen away from your hand. Continue natural breathing and avoid bracing or tightly “sucking in” in your waist. Unlike the outer abdominals, which you can feel and see, these deep muscles are out of sight and the feeling is very subtle, like you are tightening a deep belt just one notch.
If you feel your pelvic floor lift this is indicating you are working the area well, as the muscles work together.
Hold this core recruitment for 3 breaths or longer and repeat 5 – 10 times.
Recruit your deep abdominals in this way before any exercise and practice switching on your core frequently throughout the day.
Once you have sound PF and core strength and control you can progress to other gentle exercises, but avoid any exercises where you find yourself straining or you feel you lose your pelvic floor or core and control. Remember to listen to your body and focus on quality core and pelvic floor recruitment before progressing to other strength moves
Table top core and back strength
Once you are able to engage and hold you deep abdominals and pelvic floor in static positions, you are ready to progress to low load core specific conditioning.
Strong and stable
A great option for the early weeks when you are ready to advance your core stability strengthening and add upper back and butt strengthening
Table top arm raise
Start position: Kneeling on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees under hips. Visualise your back as a flat, sturdy table top. Draw your shoulder blades towards your tail bone and your lower abdomen upwards to stabilise your spine.
Action: Engage your core and pelvic floor. Raise one arm upwards and forward. Hold your arm by your ear whilst you focus on recruiting your deep abdominals to keep your back level and stable for 3 to 5 slow breaths. Slowly lower and repeat raising the second arm
Training tip: Focus on core stability , keeping your back straight and level
Imagine you have glass of champagne / water on each corner of the table; keep your back so stable that you do not spill a drop !
Table top leg raise
Start position: as above kneeling on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees under hips. Visualise your back as a table top, draw your shoulder blades towards your tail bone and engage your core to keep your back straight and strong
Action: Slowly extend one leg backwards to hip height. Hold your leg straight and strong whilst you focus on engaging your core and keeping you back level and stable for 3 to 5 slow breaths. Slowly lower and repeat raising the second leg
Training tip: Focus on core stability and be sure to keep your back straight and your pelvis horizontal and / or
imagine you have glass of champagne / water on each corner of the table; keep your back so stable that you do not spill a drop !
Table top arm and leg raise
Progression: Raise your opposite arm and leg, holding for 3 breaths before changing sides
Interested in learning more? You can sign up here to receive your FREE Exercise Sampler from Lose Baby Weight.
And to see some core exercises from our Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD you can watch below.
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About The Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD
The Healthy Mummy Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD has been created to help mums fit in exercise at home and can be done in bite sized chunks when it suits them.
The DVD provides 6 safe and effective workout which are 10-15 minute in length and that target specific areas of a woman’s body to strengthen it, tone it up as well as helping to improve the fitness levels of mums performing the DVD. The DVD also burns approximately 450 – 500 calories excluding the Stretch and Relax workout
The exercises in The Healthy Mummy Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD are effective and safe and you will be guided through each of the workouts. As well as assisting in the improvement of your overall fitness levels, the workouts in the DVD will also help in the burning of calories, the improvement of your core strength and the strengthening of your pelvic floor.
The six workouts are broken down into 10 and 15 minute sections that you can do when it suits you – or if you have the time and energy you can do the DVD as one 70 minute continuous workout. The Healthy Mummy Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD also covers special considerations post-birth, such as caesarean sections, back strains, muscle separation, incontinence and pelvic floor issues.
You could also try the Healthy Mummy Smoothie Range which has been formulated by leading nutritionists to be the perfect companion to a busy mum’s life when trying to lose weight. You’ll find out more here.
The Workout Summary
- 15 Minute Low Impact cardio workout – The Low Impact Cardio routine will improve your fitness and energy levels, as well as burning calories, while avoiding stress on your body – in particular, your vulnerable pelvic floor. This workout will put you on the path to being a fitter, leaner and more energetic version of you.
- 15 Minute toning cardio workout – By combining a low impact cardio conditioning routine with light resistance training, this energetic workout will make your heart and lungs stronger while burning calories and toning your arms, legs and butt. This is a great addition to the low impact routine, or as a stand-alone cardio option with the added bonus of arm and leg toning.
- 10 Minute upper Body workout – Conditioning your upper body will not only have you feeling and looking stronger, it will provide postural strengthening to combat stress on your upper back. You will also benefit from increased muscle stamina and definition, allowing you to keep up with your little ones.
- 10 Minute Lower Body workout – Hone in on your butt and legs with this lower body strengthening workout. It will have you looking and feeling strong, toned and energised.
- 10 Minute Abs, Back & core workout – The abdominal, back and core muscles are at the centre of a healthy body. With these safe and effective exercises, you will improve your posture, help alleviate back pain and strengthen your pelvic floor while you regain your waist and condition your abs and back.
- 10 Minute Stretch & Relax- Lengthen your muscles and relax your mind and body as you calmly and quietly stretch your body, top to toe.
You can purchase the DVD here for $39.99
PLUS…See our special section covering all you need to know on special considerations post-birth, such as caesarean sections, back strains, muscle separation, incontinence and pelvic floor issues.
We hope you enjoy The Healthy Mummy Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD and, as always, we love customer feedback so please get in touch.
Questions & Answers
For all the commonly asked questions about exercise and the DVD including special post natal conditions, when you can start and exercises for tummy fat please click here