Crunches will tone your abs post-pregnancy.
During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles expand to create space for your growing baby. Once you've given birth, your abs are stretched, weak and jiggly. You can begin gentle abdominal hollowing exercises immediately after pregnancy and then gradually progress into more demanding exercises, such as crunches, planks and bicycles. Pilates exercises are also an effective way to regain core strength and firm and shrink your stomach. Before you resume your normal pre-pregnancy abdominal routine, consult your doctor.
A Belly Vacuum1.
Perform a gentle scooping exercise in the first few weeks post pregnancy, which will strengthen your transversus abdominis, or the deep abdominal muscle that corsets your waist. Begin by lying supine with knees bent and feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor.2.
Draw your navel in toward your spine, hollowing your abdominals. Imagine the shape of an ice cream scooper. Hold the contraction for 10 seconds, breathing in a relaxed and natural way.
Release the contraction slowly. Perform three reps, increasing the number to five as you grow stronger.
The Pilates 1001.
Progress abdominal exercises six weeks after giving birth and start regaining the strength of your core musculature. Begin the Hundred, a Pilates exercise, by lying supine with your arms positioned by your sides.2.
Lift your legs so your legs and body form a 90-degree angle. Pump your arms up and down while inhaling for a count of five. Continue pumping and do a five-count exhale, completing one set.3.
Perform 10 reps of 10-count breathing cycles to equal the Pilates 100. Hold your legs at a lower angle to the floor as your abdominal strength increases. Bend your legs at a slight angle if the exercise is causing lower back strain.
Curl and Hold1.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your ears.2.
Curl your head and chest up, drawing your shoulder blades off the floor. Keep your lower back and buttocks pressed to the floor. Hold this position for three seconds.3.
Return to starting position and repeat. Perform 10 reps, adding one rep and a few seconds to the top of the contraction on a weekly basis.
Cycle with a Ball1.
Add an exercise ball to your abdominal routine to increase the intensity of the exercises 12 weeks after pregnancy. Begin a bicycle exercise with a ball by lying on your back with knees bent and feet planted on the floor. Hold the ball above your head with your arms extended.2.
Bend and draw in your right knee, touching the ball, and simultaneously extend and lift your left leg a few inches off the floor. Reverse your leg movements, bending your left knee and extending your right leg. Envision a bicycling motion with your legs.3.
Perform 10 to 12 reps in which one cycle consists of your right and left leg touching the ball.
- Exercise ball
- Perform pelvic floor exercises before engaging in an exercise regimen for your abdominals. Because you'll tend to leak -- stress incontinence -- for the first few weeks, pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles that will help you to control the leaking.
- If your abdominal muscles feel excessively loose, you may have diastasis recti, or over-stretched muscles in which the front abdominal wall has separated. According to IDEA Health & Fitness Association's book, "Inspire Women to Fitness," post-natal women tend to make the mistake of doing too many sit-ups to firm their midsection, which only exacerbates an overstretched stomach. Focus instead on abdominal hollowing exercises, which help to build your inner abs while shrinking the front abdominal wall.