So you just had a baby, and you’re not loving the way your body looks (especially in the midsection).
The doctor says you are cleared to exercise, but doesn’t tell you any more detail than that. So you go online and google the best exercises to lose belly fat, and you get a long list of articles and blog posts that show you ab exercises that promise to melt away belly fat. This is a problem, because, as you know if you’ve been following me, there is no such thing as spot reduction! (I want to stand on a mountaintop and scream those words over and over again).
So the ironic thing is, the exercises that you think will help you lose belly fat, will actually make your belly appear larger. when intra-abdominal pressure increases, and you have any core dysfunction (like diastasis recti), you’re actually making the situation worse.
So let’s avoid that by ditching these 3 exercises:
- Sit ups and crunches: Whats wrong with sit-ups and crunches? Well for one, as I just mentioned, the pressure you’re putting on your core will actually make your belly appear larger, but more importantly, you don’t want to repeat a movement over and over again, that has a negative effect on your posture. You already spend so much time rounded (breastfeeding and carrying baby). You need to spend your time working on tightening those muscles in the back to improve your posture. And as for your core, start to do exercises that stabilize the deep core muscles like deep core breathing and the dead bug sequence. It won’t help you lose fat there, but it will stabilize your core so that you can do the compound exercises that are metabolically demanding, and those exercises will absolutely help you lose belly fat.
- Running and Jumping: I know I know, these exercises get your heart rate up so quickly and can be a great way to improve your conditioning and lose weight. Unfortunately, the repetitive impact is the exact opposite of what your body needs. First of all, pregnancy basically turned your bladder into a pancake as your baby grew. Secondly, your pelvic floor muscles may not be strong enough to support that impact, and lastly, there is still relaxin in your system (a hormone that creates laxity in the tissues to allow for childbirth). If I had a dollar for every new mom who told me she went for a run and then rolled her ankle… Your intentions may be good, but your body needs time before getting into serious impact again. Start with the basics like balance, stability, mobility, strength, low-impact conditioning. There will be lots of time to do hard core workouts once your body has healed.
- Excessive front body work: We all have this tendency to work on the muscles we can see in the mirror, and neglect the ones in the back. Let’s think of the anterior chain (front body tissues) and posterior chain (back body tissues) as a pulley system. When the front body is tight, it pulls you out of proper posture, and if your workout consists of too many front body exercises like chest, anterior deltoid, abs, and quads, you will end up tightening the front body that you will then keep tightening when you’re feeding or holding your baby. The best thing to do, is have a 2:1 ratio of back exercises to front exercises. Stick to things like deadlifts, hamstring and glute work, low back and upper back strengthening. This way, your muscles will be stronger in the back and can help to pull your body into proper alignment and posture. Front exercises are not bad, and its important to incorporate them too, but prioritize the back body more than the front.
I would love to know what has been working for you in your postpartum recovery journey. Let me know inside the Glowing Mama Facebook Community. And please remember to be patient, loving and kind towards your body and the process of recovering post-baby.