Having a baby is one of the most miraculous feats in the entire world. It's absolutely mind-boggling to realize that, despite your impressive career accomplishments, giving birth is on par with snagging the title of CEO or nabbing a big client at work.
What isn't so amazing is what happens to your belly after baby. Gone are the days of flaunting your rock-hard abs on the beach. These days, you'd happily settle for creating the illusion of a six-pack with a pricey airbrush tan.
But, rest assured, it is possible to get your strong stomach back. “You absolutely can have a six-pack after having a baby,” says Desi Bartlett, a Los Angeles-based pre- and post-natal fitness expert who has worked with actress Alicia Silverstone. “I'd say a four-pack is a little more realistic for most of us but, after baby is born, the abdominal muscles have to contract back to their normal length because they were stretched during the second and third trimesters. In order to assist the body in reclaiming abdominal strength, we need to train in mindful ways.”
That means training smarter, not necessarily harder. Rather than spending countless hours doing crunches at the gym, Bartlett suggests sticking to a clean diet, getting plenty of rest between diaper changes and late-night feedings and reducing stress across the board. “Moms work hard,” she says. “We are nurturers, chefs, chauffeurs, coaches. We need a lot of strength for each of these roles. When we feel strong in our bodies, it's easier to cultivate emotional strength and endurance. Moms benefit not just from having a leaner abdomen but being strong in their body, mind, and heart.”
We asked Bartlett to create this waist-whittling workout exclusively for 32/7 readers. Incorporate these moves into your regular routine 3 to 4 times a week to reap big rewards like improved posture, a lower risk of heart disease, increased strength and, of course, sexy, sculpted abs.
Plank on Outside Arches of Feet
Begin in traditional plank (the top of a push-up position) with your hands flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Keep your palms flat then roll onto the outer arch of the right foot with your feet stacked. Hold for 10 seconds, then switch sides.
Rock the Boat
Begin in boat pose. Sit with your legs straight in front of you, your arms extended, and your legs in jackknife position. Lean your upper body back to a 45-degree angle. Now lift your legs to a 45-degree angle. Inhale as you lower your torso and legs until your feet and middle back almost touch the floor. Rise back up to boat on the exhale. Repeat 12 to 15 times.
Begin on your knees with your hands on the handles of an imaginary wheel (or use an actual ab wheel). Slide your hands forward until your arms are straight in front of you. Slide back until your hands are directly under your shoulders. Slide to the right on a diagonal, then return to your start position. Slide straight ahead, then return to your start position. Slide to the left on a diagonal, then return to your start position. Repeat 5 times moving right, center, left and center.