When most people think of the core, they just assume we’re talking about having abs. However, the core muscles are all the muscles around your midsection, including those on the hips and your lower back. As incredible as pregnancy is, the reality is that it can wreak havoc on these areas of your body – it stretches and weakens the abdominal muscles, and the ones on the back get shortened and overworked. Combine that with hips that have gotten a bit wider and more unstable, and it’s no wonder that most women postpartum feel like all core exercises are now ten times more difficult.
Essentially that means that for women who want to regain their previous strength, it’s a must to go back to the basics and rebuild the muscles that they once had. Now having weaker core muscles postpartum doesn’t always mean a loss of all strength in the area; more so, it’s about using the ability to create the intra-abdominal pressure that’s needed to keep the entire torso stiffened and upright (something that’s crucial for all other strength exercises).
In this article, we’re going to talk about rebuilding your core strength postpartum and what are some of the best exercises we can recommend so that you go back to your previous training regime in no time.
The Best Core Exercises for New Moms
It might be surprising to hear, but the exercises you will need to do the most in the months postpartum are isometric. That means you won’t need a ton of ab equipment to get your workouts in. Isometric exercises are the best way to target the bulk of the abdomen while also working on strengthening your entire midsection.
According to research conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, the best exercises for activating the obliques and abs are the yoga boat, the yoga dolphin plank on a ball, and the yoga side plank. And while they’re great, and you can definitely incorporate them into your workout program, the reality is that they might be a bit too difficult in the initial training period postpartum. But in the beginning, we recommend that you start with the following exercises.
For this one, you have to lie down on the floor, facing up. Then you contract your entire abdomen as if you’re preparing to get hit in the stomach. This is your starting position – from this point on, you have to start performing various movements, such as lifting the arms or extending your legs, all while keeping the tension in your abs and your back flat on the floor.
This exercise requires you to breathe in and exhale out as deeply as you possibly can, allowing your stomach to expand and contract. It’s a great way to build strength in the abdominal area while also being a little bit like a meditation technique that allows your brain to relax.
We all love to hate the plank and for a good reason. It’s one of the most effective but also difficult core exercises, as it requires for you to engage your entire body while performing it. Here, it’s vital to remember to keep your abs, hips, and back straight as you hold the plank position for 30 seconds or more. Over time, you might start increasing the difficulty of this exercise by doing its variations, such as plank on stability, plank with one arm raised, etc.
For this one, you have to lie on the floor, on your back, with knees bent and feet either propped against the wall or on top of a stability ball. Then, you brace your abdomen and tilt your pelvis back while keeping the lower back pressed to the floor. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then repeat. If you want to make this move a bit more challenging, you can hold it for longer or keep one of the legs lifted in the air as your core is braced.
Finally, you know that the core is not only the abs; it’s also the muscles in your obliques, and this is a great exercise for working those. To do it, you have to lie on the floor with your elbow under your shoulder; your feet and hips should be stacked as you lift them off the floor until your body forms a straight line. Once you’ve gotten into this position, you need to hold for 20-30 seconds and then switch sides.
Before You Go
Before you go off to do your workout, just remember that it’s good to give yourself time postpartum. Getting back into your previous shape and restoring your strength is bound to take some time. So be patient with yourself – your work will pay off in the end.