4 Ab Exercises To AVOID As A New Mom

You've spent nine months letting your abdominals stretch to accommodate your lovely new addition. So it only makes sense that once you're cleared for exercise you're thinking about how to strengthen them (learn how to find time for fitness here!). Unfortunately, most women opt for traditional abdominal exercises which can end up doing more harm than good- there are definitely exercises you should avoid.

Ab exercises to avoid as a new mom

Throughout pregnancy your body changes (in a good way!). Your midsection for one, stretches as much as necessary to allow room for your babe.  Your back muscles become stretched and weaker and your hips feel more unstable than ever. All of this is normal  and none of this means you're no longer strong. It does mean however, that you've got some recovery to do.

So before you jump back into a workout routine, check out THIS POST which touches on the best exercises you can do post pregnancy before you start an actual fitness regime.

But now back to be belly. Post pregnancy, your abdominals are stretched and weak and you've probably got some degree of diastalsis recti. Unfortunately, performing any of the following exercises won't help your belly recover and may actually do more harm than good. Making sure you avoid these exercises as a new mom will help you more in the long run.

Exercise #1 Crunches

Crunches are most people's "go-to" when they think of abdominal training. And in fairness I can see why, they've been around forever and toted as the best way to train abs. But straight out of the delivery room isn't exactly the time to implement them.

Abdominal training for moms

When you perform a crunch it causes your midsection to bulge outward around the belly button. This places extra pressure on the connective tissue and can actually further hinder your diastalsis recti (since you are essentially training your belly to bulge!). By training just the rectus abdominis, your connective tissue isn't healing or becoming stronger thus making crunches pretty ineffective for new mamas.


Exercise #2 Planks

Planks can be a great core exercises... just not right after you've had a baby. Remember when I said that your abdominal muscles were weakened and stretched? In a plank, your belly hangs down and you've got to activate your deeper muscle to hold everything up and in.

Core training for moms

The problem, is that post pregnancy you're unable to do that. You need to train your deep core muscles without the added stress from front loading. Meaning, you'll need to retrain your core muscles from a supine (lying on your back) position far before you should flip over into a plank. Coming into a front loaded ab exercises (like a plank) only causes more stress on an already extremely delicate group of muscles.


Exercise #3 Hanging Leg Tucks

If you're not ready to crunch of plank, than you are most definitely not ready for anything hanging! Not only does this type of exercises (again) cause the belly to bulge but chances are your joints are still pretty unstable from pregnancy (thank you relaxin!). So placing your body in a hanging position without being able to activate the necessary muscles isn't a great way to go.

Core training to avoid

On top of that, hanging places your midsection/abdominals in a stretched out position - the exact thing you're trying to fix. Since your abdominals are both slightly stretched as well as week, you probably won't be able to use them to pull your legs up and instead rely on your hip flexors and unstable pelvis. All in all, hanging leg tucks should be omitted until you've done a bit of rehab.

Instead, more stress is placed upon an extremely delicate group of muscles.

Exercise #4 Vups/Toe Touches

Not to sound like a broken record but your abs are most definitely not ready for a vup. This is an exercise that again creates a belly bulge putting a lot of pressure on weakened tissue. On top of that, like a crunch, toe touches place a lot of pressure downwards. If you've recently had a baby, your pelvic floor is most likely not ready for excessive pressure.

Ab exercises to avoid

Most new mamas experience some back pain due to the lack of strength in their core. Exercises like the vup will only increase  back pain since you will be unable to contract the muscles necessary to perform the move.

Check out a video of ab exercises I DO love!

It probably sounds like I've just given you a list of don't! And I guess I have. The biggest thing to remember post partum is that your body needs time to heal. Remember that it took ten months for your body to accommodate a baby. All of those months were spent stretching and changing. So expecting it to rebound in less than ten months is absurd.

Instead of training abdominals superficially, spend the time to rehab and learn to contract the deeper ones. This blog covers some great post-pregnancy exercises before jumping into an actual fitness routine.

And always, always, seek out the help of a professional if you're unsure.

Train safe mamas!

What do you wish you knew about training post partum?

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