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POSTPARTUM (6 weeks and after)
1. All-fours back flies Hold a 3- or 5-pound dumbbell in your right hand and kneel on all fours, knees under hips and wrists under shoulders. Pull your navel toward your spine so your body forms a straight line from head to hips [A]. Squeezing your shoulder blades together, lift your right elbow out to the side and up to shoulder height without twisting your torso [B]. With control, lower arm to starting position and do 10–12 reps. Switch arms and repeat. Do 2 sets on both sides, resting 45 seconds to 1 minute between sets. Strengthens upper back and improves posture and pelvic stability.
2. Ball sit-squats Place a stability ball between your lower back and a wall. Leaning against the ball, walk your feet out 2 feet in front of you, keeping feet hip-width apart and arms hanging by your sides. Contract your abdominal muscles so your spine is in a neutral position. Continue leaning on the ball as you “sit,” bending your knees to a 90-degree angle. Straighten legs to starting position and do 8–10 reps. On the last rep, hold the lowered position for 15–30 seconds, then stand. Do 2–3 sets, holding the last rep of each set. Rest 45 seconds to 1 minute between sets. Strengthens legs and abdominal muscles.
3. Splinted ab curls Lie faceup with a rolled towel placed lengthwise behind your middle back. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross both ends of the towel over your abdomen. Contract your abdominal muscles, drawing your hips toward your ribs. Slowly lift your upper body, curling your spine up and forward until your shoulder blades clear the floor. Slowly lower and repeat. Do 5–10 reps. Gradually progress to 2–3 sets of 10 reps, resting 45 seconds to 1 minute between sets. Strengthens abdominal and oblique muscles.