Time and time again, a lot of moms ask me, “Why does my tummy pooch outward?” That damn pooch never seems to budge and loves to make its presence known.
This answer to this question isn’t always so direct because it could be for a variety of reasons such as:
- Diastasis Recti
- Excessive pregnancy weight gain
- Weak core musculature
- Abundance of fat storage
However, the one thing that it all comes down to is the fact that your body stretched its entire abdominal cavity and wall in order to compensate for a growing baby. All of this stretching and growing leads to one thing: weak ab muscles.
In order to target your post-baby tummy pooch, you will need to first address the weakened deep core muscles.
These muscles are the:
- Transverse Abdominus: The Transversus Abdominis (TA) is the deepest abdominal muscle. It is the “corset muscle” of the spine and pelvis. In the normal situation, TA contracts in anticipation of body motion to guard the spinal joints, ligaments, discs and nerves.
- Internal Oblique: The Interal Oblique is the deeper of the 2 oblique muscles. It runs on an angle from the pelvis up to the ribs. Its primary role is in stabilizing the core, but it also helps to move the spine.
- Multifidus: These muscles are very short muscles running from the transverse processes (on the sides) of one vertebra up to the spinous process (the middle of the back) of the next vertebra upwards. Their main function is back stability. They do not produce a large range of movement, but work to produce small, “fine-tuning” postural movements, all day long.
- Pelvic Floor: The pelvic floor (PFM) is a hammock of muscles that connect the pubis bone at the front to the tailbone (coccyx) and “sitz” bones (ischial tuberosities) at the back. The pelvic floor supports the bladder as well as the reproductive organs and connects the inferior aspect of the innominates (hip bones) and the sacrum.
All of these muscles have one thing in common-they internally stabilize your whole entire body, starting at the spine and it is important that you work and build strength in these muscles before moving onto other abdominal muscles.
Think of it this way: you are setting the foundation for your abs. You want to start at the very base and work your way out. You cannot build a house on an unsteady/weak foundation, right?
The second most common question that I get asked is, “What are some great exercises for the tummy pooch?”
Here are the most effective exercises for building your deep core muscles in order to combat the abdominal pooch after giving birth:
- Get face down on the floor resting on your forearms and knees.
- Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows.
- Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up too far upward.
- Keep your back flat — don’t let it droop or you’ll be defeating the purpose. Picture your body as a long straight board, or plank.
- Hold as long as you can. Aim for 20 to 30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute, as you get stronger.
2. Drawing In Maneuver
- Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat.
- Simply pull your belly button in and towards your spine. Try to get your belly button all the way to your back.
- Hold for 10 seconds and then release. Repeat.
- You can use an object to make sure you’re doing this exercise correctly. Place the object over your belly button and attempt to lower the object as much as you can.
3. Floor Bridge
- Lie flat on the floor on your back with the hands by your side and your knees bent. Your feet should be placed around shoulder width. This will be your starting position.
- Pushing mainly with your heels, lift your hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. Breathe out as you perform this part of the motion and hold at the top for a second.
- Slowly go back to the starting position as you breathe in.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, keep your feet flat on the floor and your toes pointing straight ahead.
- Gently draw-in your navel towards your spine and contract your glutes.
- Slowly lift one foot off the floor with control, hold in the air for a few seconds and lower your foot back to the floor.
- Repeat with the other foot.
5. Prone Floor Cobra
- Lie facedown on the floor with your legs straight and your arms next to your sides, palms down.
- Contract your glutes and the muscles of your lower back, and raise your head, chest, arms, and legs off the floor. At this time, your abs and hips should be the only parts of your body touching the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds and lie back down.
6. Russian Twist
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
- Lean back so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to floor, making sure to keep the spine straight and not rounded.
- Holding a medicine ball in your hands out in front of you, lift your legs up a few inches off of the ground. If you cannot maintain balance, you may keep both feet flat on the ground.
- Raise your core and slowly rotate round to the right as far as you can, pause then reverse this movement all the way round to the left as far as you can. To make this more challenging, try touching the medicine ball to the ground on each side as you twist.
- That is 1 rep.