Lose the Baby Fat: A Post-Pregnancy Workout Plan for New Moms
Congratulations! You’ve made it through the nine months to create a new life! Now what? You’re probably wondering what happened to your body – particularly, your belly.
Exercise is a great way to get your pre-baby body back. Crunches may seem like the answer, but crunches and other “ab” work performed incorrectly could make your belly area worse than before. The solution: Retrain your posture and core with proper alignment.
The first step to proper posture is a neutral spinal alignment with the hips, shoulders and ears in line. While your baby was growing inside you, your body may have been knocked out of alignment. Follow these post-baby workout tips to get your pre-baby body back.
Rediscover Your Neutral Pelvic Position
1) Place the heel of your hands on your hipbones with your fingertips pointing toward your pubic bone.
2) Tuck your pelvis under then back, flattening and arching your back. Then, find the point in the middle of that motion.
3) Standing sideways at a mirror, observe slight arches in your neck and lower back. Your hips, shoulders and ears should align.
Activate Your Core
Your core includes your transverse abdominis (lower belly), the pelvic floor, the multifidus (deep back muscles) and the diaphragm. The goal is to focus on each individual area, and then incorporate them together.
Pelvic Floor: Inhale, then exhale as you gently tighten the pelvic floor (kegel) by focusing on bringing the labia together and lifting upward. Imagine holding back the sensation of passing gas or urine. Avoid tightening the buttocks or inner thighs.
Practice engaging your pelvic floor by tightening and releasing it for a count of 10, then perform 10 quick pelvic contractions.
Transverse abdominis: Inhale, and then exhale as you gently pull your lower belly below your navel toward the spine.
Put the pelvic floor and transverse abdominis together to encourage that flat belly. As you engage the pelvic floor, also draw the lower belly backward.
Multifidus: The multifidus lies deep within the spine, and works to both stabilize and assist with rotation. This muscle runs down the entire length of the spine, with fibers connecting into the diaphragm.
To activate the multifidus, focus on sliding the back ribs down to meet the hips, an action assisted with a deep exhale, or subtly draw the shoulder blades down the back. Another way to engage this muscle is to visualize arching the lower back or drawing the inner thighs backward.
Diaphragm: Inhale, then exhale as you focus on drawing the front ribs gently together and down. Repeat 3-5 times, each time attempting to maintain the ribs together and down with the inhale. You will note that your breath gets drawn deeper into the lungs.
Putting it all together: Inhale, then as you exhale, tighten the pelvic floor, gently pull the lower belly back (visualize arching the low back) and draw the front and back ribs down toward your pelvis. Maintain this muscle contraction at about 20% tight and focus on taking 3 to 5 deep breaths.
Notice how this really can work your abs – and you’re not doing crunches!
Practice activating your core in multiple positions throughout the day. And remember: more is better. This awareness to posture and core activation can transform every-day movement into belly-shaping exercises.
Post-Pregnancy Workouts on the Total Gym for New Moms
Here are five Total Gym exercises for new moms, which done with good posture and your core tight, will transform your post-pregnancy body into a longer leaner one.
Seated Backward Shoulder Extension: With the incline to the lower one-third-to-middle of the tower, attach the pulleys to the glideboard. Straddle and sit facing the tower. Maintain the elbows straight as you bring the arms straight back behind your hips. Vary your hand position with palms facing forward and palms facing backward. Repeat 45-60 seconds.
Seated Backward “T” Shoulder Horizontal Abduction: Stay seated facing the tower and holding the cables. Bring the hands up in front of you at shoulder level; now pull the arms out to the side to make a “T” shape, then return. To vary the exercise you can have the palms facing each other to start, facing up to the sky or down to the floor. Repeat 45-60 seconds.
Biceps Curl to Overhead Press – Up and Over: Sitting sideways on the Total Gym, hold the front cable in the hand closest to the tower. Bend the elbow to 90 degrees, and then press the arm up and overhead. You can add a slight lean of the body if you want. Keep the shoulders pulling away from the ears and avoid leaning forward or back with the trunk. Repeat 45-60 seconds.
Pullovers: With the cables attached to the glideboard, hold the handle in each hand and sit toward the bottom third of the glideboard, facing away from the tower. Lie back and place your feet on the glideboard with your knees bent. Reach the arms overhead and then back toward your mid-thigh. Focus on keeping the lower ribs in contact with the glideboard, and your shoulders pulling away from your ears. To intensify, lift the heels, then one leg, and then both legs with knees bent. Repeat 45 -60 seconds.
Squats: With the cables detached and the incline level toward the middle of the tower, push the glideboard up the rails and sit at the bottom of the board. Place your feet on the squat stand and lie back. Start with squats, which are ideally pretty easy. Then start to alternate one-legged squats, and incorporate a little jump between leg switches during repetitions. BE CAREFUL NOT TO POUCH THE LOWER ABS. If you cannot maintain an active core, lower the incline. The intention with these alternating jumps is to focus more on the abdominals than on the legs. So the lower the incline, the more the abdominal muscles work (the higher the incline, the more legs work). Perform for 2 minutes, taking breaks as needed.
By being mindful of your posture, activating the core with everyday activities and by exercising, you will start to reshape your body and regain your energy.
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