The Moves

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1. Elevators

Sit cross-legged with your back against a support, shoulders in line with hips, both hands on belly. Inhale, expanding your belly out to the first floor, then exhale as you bring your transverse back to the fifth floor (shown). Hold and count out loud to 30. Do 5 little squeezes toward the sixth floor, then end with 1 full breath. Repeat sequence 10 times. Strengthens abs.

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2. Contractions

From the Elevators position, place one hand under your ribs and one below your navel (shown). Inhale, expanding your belly out to the first floor, then exhale to bring the transverse to the third floor (about halfway between first and sixth), keeping your shoulders still (this is the starting position). Count out loud as you bring the transverse back to the fifth floor. Squeeze and hold there, bringing your ribs together. (This is 1 repetition.) Bring the transverse back to the third floor and repeat, counting your reps out loud. Work up to 100 reps 3-5 times per day. Strengthens abs.

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3. Standing Pelvic Tilts

Stand with your knees bent, legs hip-width apart, hands on upper thighs, and rest your upper-body weight on your arms. Stick your buttocks out to flatten your back. Inhale, then exhale as you draw your transverse in to fifth floor and pull your pubic bone toward your navel, pointing your tailbone down (shown). Hold for a count of 5, then return to the flat-back position. Do 10 tilts. Strengthens abs and stretches lower back.

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4. Head Lifts

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and close to buttocks. Inhale and expand your belly, then exhale to bring your transverse to the fifth floor, placing the small of your back on the floor (if you have a diastasis, use a splint; see "How to Check for a Diastasis," main page). Lift your head only, bringing your chin toward your chest (shown). Hold your transverse in as you inhale and bring your head down to the floor and do 10 head lifts. Strengthens abs.

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5. Leg Slides

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and close to buttocks. Place one hand on your belly and the other under the small of your back, palm up. Hold your transverse in at the fifth floor, lift your feet off the ground one at a time and bring your knees up over your hips [A]. Keeping your transverse in, slowly put one foot on the ground and slide your heel until the leg is straight [B]. Slowly slide your heel back toward your buttocks and then lift it up to the starting position [A]. Switch legs. Do 15 alternating slides (30 total). If you can't hold your transverse in while doing the slide, wait until you feel strong enough to try this exercise. Strengthens abs.

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6. Low Back Stretches

Lie on your back, arms straight, palms down, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and heels close to your buttocks [A]. Draw your transverse in, keep your feet on the floor and roll your knees to one side. Look over the opposite shoulder as you take 15 breaths [B]. Hold your transverse in and keep your feet on the floor as you bring your knees to the opposite side and repeat. Strengthens abs and stretches lower back.

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