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Once you can perform two sets of 15 reps, place your hands behind your head (not shown). As you contract abs, raise your shoulders slightly off floor, Hold for 5 seconds and return to starting position. Strengthens abdominal muscles without compromising lower back muscles.
[Under construction] Celebrity postpartum trainer Rob Parr includes the following six moves in his new book, Rob Parr’s Post-Pregnancy Workout (Berkley Books, 1997). They’re designed to strengthen and tone the entire body. Do them three or four times a week. For exercises 1, 2, 3 and 6, begin with 25 reps (start lower if you need to then build). As you get stronger, add 5 to each exercise until you work up to 50. If pelvic-floor muscles still are weak, skip the Marseille Plié or any jumping movements. Remember, says Parr, “Try to be consistent about exercise, build it into your routine and make it a priority. Everyone in the family will benefit.”
1. Marseille Plié Stand with hands at waist, feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing comfortably out [A]. Keeping torso erect, abs pulled in and heels on floor, slowly lower yourself into a squatting position, hips higher than knees; make sure knees don’t extend past toes [B]. Rise slowly to starting position and do 25–50 reps. Strengthens thighs, buttocks and hamstrings.
2. Alternating Step-ups Stand before a step 6–8 inches high, with feet hip-width apart and pointing forward. With body erect, step up on bench with your left foot [A], followed by the right [B]. Step down with the left foot; tap your right foot on the ground, then step up with it, followed by the left foot. Do 25–50 reps. Strengthens thighs, buttocks and calves.
3. Flutter Kicks Lie face down on the floor or mat with your legs straight and toes pointed, elbows in front of shoulders and chin resting on your hands. Contract abdominal muscles to bring your pelvis to a neutral position so your back doesn’t arch. Squeezing right buttock, slowly raise right leg, without bending your knee, about 2–4 inches off the floor [A]. Bring the right leg down as you raise the left leg, keeping hips in contact with the floor [B]. Lower left leg and continue to alternate for 25– 50 reps. As you lift and lower, one foot always will be in contact with the ground. Strengthens buttocks and lower back muscles.
4. Incline Push-ups Face a sturdy wall or table at a 45-degree angle, with body straight and heels slightly lifted off ground. Place hands on it at chest height and in line with your shoulders, fingers pointing up, arms strong but not locked [A]. Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the wall or table, keeping your head, neck and spine in line without arching your back [B]. Push up by extending arms without locking elbows. Do 15 reps. Strengthens shoulders, triceps and chest.