This is the number 1 question asked by all my clients. All women want a nice, flat tummy without any love-handles and pooch, especially after pregnancy. The good news is, this can be done with just a few key exercises.
First of all, please get clearance from your doctor after you have given birth before you start any exercise program. Recommended rest time for normal delivery is 6 weeks, for caesarean, 8 weeks.
Before you jump right in and start doing sit-ups after your pregnancy, it’s helpful have a basic understanding of the structure and functions of your abdominal wall as fitness after pregnancy is a little different and exercises like sit-ups may actually do more harm than good in the initial post-natal period.
The most important abdominal muscle you want to target after pregnancy is the Transverse Abdominal muscle which runs across the abdomen and performs abdominal compression.It draws the belly inward and narrows the waist, getting rid of the dreaded belly ring or belly fat. Fitness trainers refer to this muscle as the body’s “internal girdle.”
Imagine yourself wearing a girdle, that’s what the transverse abdominal muscle does to your tummy. After pregnancy, working on this muscle will act like an internal splint, helping to close abdominal separation from the inside. The transverse abdominal muscle is the body’s most important core stabilizer and is responsible for re-flattening the abdominal wall after pregnancy.
A critical component for restoring your abs and the development of core strength is learning to control the shape of your abdominal wall during exercise. This must be understood and utilized to quickly, safely and effectively strengthen and flatten your abdominal wall after pregnancy. To do this, you need to train your abs to pull back in toward your spine during exertion.
I’m going to now describe a special exercise specifically developed for this essential skill:
- First, stand up tall, then think about drawing your belly button towards your spine.
- You are not sucking in your breath, you are using your abs to do this. Once your belly button is drawn it, it automatically activates your transverse abdominal muscle.
- Try to keep your belly button in as you breathe normally. Practice a few times until it becomes comfortable.
I use this exercise myself to keep my own tummy flat. The best part about this exercise is that you can do it anytime, everyday. I do it when I am walking, shopping and standing on escalators.
This exercise rehabilitates your tummy and prepares it for the 15 minute belly-flattening Pilates routine that I have demonstrated in my book.