Ask new moms which body part they’re most worried about getting back into shape after pregnancy and the answer is always the same: abs! We’re here to help. These exercises will work to strengthen and recondition your abdominals.
They’ve been adapted from Strollercize, a postnatal exercise program developed by Fit Pregnancy contributing editor Elizabeth Trindade, a personal trainer and mother of three.
With your doctor’s approval, you can start these moves every other day six weeks after you give birth—or sooner if you feel strong enough.
1. Knee Drop Lie faceup on the floor, knees bent in toward chest, heels close to buttocks. Extend arms out to your sides at shoulder level in a “T” position, palms down. Slowly drop your knees to the right, lowering legs as far as you can while keeping your back in contact with the floor. Bring legs back to the center by contracting your abs and drop knees to the other side. Begin with 10 repetitions (1 rep is a drop to each side), eventually building to 20.
2. The Big Lift Lie faceup on the floor, thighs at a 90-degree angle to your hips. Lift your arms up in the air as if you were holding a ball [A]. Inhale, then exhale, contracting your abs as you lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor, pulling your knees toward your nose while reaching to touch your palms lightly to your ankles [B]. Begin with 10 reps, building to 20.
3. Alternating Twist Lie faceup on the floor, knees bent. Place your fingertips behind your head [A]. Inhale, then exhale, contracting abs. Lift your head off the floor and rotate your left elbow toward your right knee as you pull that knee toward you in 4 counts [B]. Return to starting position in 4 counts, then repeat with the right elbow and left knee. Do 1 set of 10–12 reps (1 rep is a twist to each side), progressing to 15.
4. Seated Half Crunch Sit erect on the floor with knees bent and arms stretched out in front of you [A]. Inhale, then exhale as you contract your abs and lean back slightly, crossing your arms in front of you [B]. Hold for 5 counts and return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
5. Knee Lift Sit erect on the edge of a chair, knees bent, toes on floor. Lean your upper back against seat back, arms extended at chest level. Contract abs and alternate lifting 1 knee up to your chest. Begin with 5 reps (1 rep is a knee lift on each side), working up to 10–15.