Pregnancy completely changes your body gradually over 40 weeks. Your ligaments and joints become more flexible, your center of gravity changes, your organs shift as your baby grows and your abdominal muscles are stretched to make room for your baby. Once you deliver, it takes time for your body to change again. Women want their stomachs to go back to the way they were right away, but it takes time and effort. Toning a flabby stomach post-pregnancy requires consistent cardio and abdominal training to achieve your desired results.
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Perform cardiovascular exercise every other day when you start after delivery. Build up to five to seven days of cardio each week to lose significant body fat, or three to five days per week for moderate fat loss, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
Choose low-impact activities to ease your body back into exercise. Try swimming, walking, cycling or the elliptical. If you were doing high-impact exercise such as jogging through your pregnancy, it should be no problem to continue after delivery with a doctor's OK.
Begin with 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per session. Gradually build up to 30 to 60 minutes to see significant fat loss, as well as increased health benefits. Keep intensity moderate to high so that your session is challenging and you burn calories to reduce fat on your abdomen.
Record your workouts in your notebook. Detail activity, frequency, duration and intensity. Adjust your workouts as you become more fit.
Perform transverse abdominus, or TvA, exercises to strengthen the deep layer of the abdomen. The TvA helps to support your spine and flattens your stomach.
Lie on your exercise mat to perform supine hollowing for the TvA. Your knees are bent, and your feet are flat on the mat, 12 to 18 inches from your buttocks. Your arms rest at your sides and your shoulders are relaxed. Take deep inhales and exhales to relax. As you inhale, your stomach should push up to the ceiling, and it pulls in as you exhale.
On your next exhale, tighten your pelvic floor muscles and perform a Kegel. These are the muscles you tighten to stop urinating. At the same time, tighten your abdomen and draw your belly button toward your spine without moving the hips or spine. Inhale and relax. Repeat eight to 12 times.
Try to inhale without releasing the contraction in your abdomen and pelvis. This takes practice, so don't be discouraged. Take eight to 12 inhales/exhales without releasing your TvA.
Add slow leg movements to challenge the TvA even more. Hold your spine steady with your abdomen and pelvic floor contracted while you march your feet slowly.
Train your rectus abdominus, obliques and TvA every other day to start. Gradually build up so that you are training your abdominal muscles every day for the best results, according to the American Council on Exercise. Perform different exercises for approximately five minutes each.
Include ab exercises that challenge your midsection and are effective. The captain's chair, bicycle maneuver, exercise ball crunch and reverse crunches recruit more muscle fibers than a basic crunch and will yield better results.
Keep your TvA active and tight during all ab exercises to focus on flattening the stomach muscles. Slow down the movements and focus on your form for the best results. When you are fatigued from one exercise, move on to the next one.
Record your workouts in your notebook. Detail exercises, repetitions, time spent and how challenging each workout was.
- ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription; American College of Sports Medicine
- Pregnancy-info.net: How to Get a Flat Tummy: Stomach Exercises that Work!
- American Council on Exercise: Ab Exercises
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises