Gym Exercises for Abs in a Post-Pregnant Woman

Gym Exercises for Abs in a Post-Pregnant Woman

Post pregnancy, your abs, or lack thereof, look much different than they did before your belly started to grow. Pregnancy stretches and weakens your ab muscles to the point that after you have your baby, you're left with a soft, squishy midsection. Rebuilding abdominal tone and strength is not only important for vanity's sake but strong abs will also support your spine, which will be put to the test on a daily basis as you hold and pack your new little one around. Once you've given your body ample time to heal and recover, you can start to strengthen and rebuild your abs with several different gym exercises.

Gentle Starter Exercises
You can't just throw yourself back into your pre-pregnancy ab exercises after you have your baby or you may end up injuring yourself. Several exercises, such as abdominal bracing, belly breathing and pelvic tilts, will help you to safely get back on track. Abdominal bracing consists of simply lying on your back and contracting your deep abdominal muscles. Hold the contraction for 5 to 10 seconds. Belly breathing is as simple as expanding your abs as you take a deep breath in and then contracting your abs as you exhale. To perform a pelvic tilt, lie on your back with your knees bent. Pull your naval into your spine and slightly tilt your pelvis upward. Hold the position for 10 seconds then repeat.

Intermediate Exercises
Once you've regained some strength in your abs, progress to some intermediate exercises that are more challenging and will further improve your abdominal tone. Toe taps can be done by lying on the floor with your legs up and knees bent to 90 degrees. Brace your abdomen, then lower one foot to the floor to tap your toes. Repeat with the other foot and continue to alternate. As your strength improves, try both feet at the same time. Add planks to your workout routine to challenge your abs and strengthen your other supporting core muscles. Lie face down on an exercise mat with your legs together. Place your forearms on the mat to support your upper body then lift your torso and hips off the mat so that your body forms a straight line. Hold the plank for at least 20 seconds, progressively increasing your hold time as your strength improves.

Advanced Exercises
Add some resistance to your ab exercises once you can successfully complete bodyweight abdominal exercises, such as sit-ups and crunches. Use a cable machine to perform crunches or hold a dumbbell between your feet while you execute a hanging leg raise. Full-body exercises such as back squats and deadlifts require a tremendous amount of abdominal strength, so making these exercises a regular part of your workout routine will help to thoroughly strengthen your abs and core.

Considerations
Get the go ahead from your OB or midwife before beginning a postpartum exercise routine. If you had a C-section, you will likely need more time for recovery before working on your abs. Be aware of any changes in your abs before initiating an abdominal exercise program. Many women experience diastasi recti, or separation of the abdominal muscles, during pregnancy. The separation will generally start to close after the birth of your baby, but if it is severe, three fingers or more in width, special care needs to be taken with your exercise routine, like progressing slowly.