MY TOP 3 TIPS TO WAKE UP THOSE LAZY ABDOMINALS!
Mel Corlett – WOMEN OF TREIGN
Whether you’re currently pregnant, just gave birth, or your child is now at the toddler stage, this is something you’re going to want to read!
Abdominal separation (diastasis recti) is a fairly common (but yet vastly overlooked) side effect that occurs during and after pregnancy in which the right and left halves of your abdominal muscle spread apart at the body’s mid line fascia. Widening and thinning of the mid line tissue occurs in response of the force of the Uterus pushing against the abdominal wall, in conjunction with pregnancy hormones that soften connective tissue.
Unfortunately, the majority of cases go unnoticed and/or un-attended to…. And I can totally understand why … new born baby, no sleep, “just trying to survive” type of scenario makes for little to no time to think about YOU and your body! As much as I can empathise, it is my job as a coach to be that one person who says “Hey girl! This is important! Don’t forget about YOUR body too!”.
Generally speaking, whether you have abdominal separation or not, the “ab” muscles tend to weaken and get lazy in most pre/post pregnant women. In some later stages of pregnancy, we stop using them completely (Hello back pain!). The muscles become too stretched (and potentially separated) for the brain to contract them, so you lose that neuro-connection and they go dormant. And we all know what happens when you don’t use it … you lose it! But don’t panic! I know this potentially sounds very dooms-day but all your abs really need is a good ol’ wake-up call!
Here are my top 3 top- tips/exercises to “wake up” lazy abdominal muscles:
Your diaphragm is a muscle. It is the main muscle used to expand and contract your lungs upon respiration. It’s one of the largest systems in your body and travels from your chest all the way to your pelvis. Our breath is what activates our abdominals. Have you ever heard a trainer say “big deep breath and BRACE”? This is our cue to get you breathing deep, activating your core, and protecting your spine. Breath initiates all movement, if we can’t breathe properly, we can never activate our muscles properly. So, lets start here.
As often as you can, place your hands on the side of your belly and practice breathing into them. Try as best you can to expand you belly FIRST and chest SECOND. Count a 5 second inhale and a 5 second exhale. Repeat this as many times as you can during the day (*Bonus: This is also a great stress-reliever!)
When Arnold Schwarzenegger used to train, he would say how he would actually visualise his biceps growing bigger when he did bicep curls. Although we’re not pumping iron in the gym, visualisation is a great tool to use when you’re attempting to activated lazier muscle… after all, your brain is where all the signals to your muscles originate. I use this tactic with my girls at the gym all the time to turn on their glutes or hamstrings – often our lazier muscles!
Try to visualise your ab muscles contracting and working. If you’re sitting up-out of bed, visualise them turning on to get you up. If you’re picking up your baby, visualise your abs working to lift the load. If you’re turning to get something in the back seat of your car, visualise your obliques working to turn your body. Re-connecting and strengthening that neuro-signal is a great tool to get those muscles working.
Lastly, you will need to actually isolate your ab muscles and put them under some stress. I’ve put together a mini 9-minute circuit for you to do at home that gets those bad-boys working up a bit of a sweat!
Perform each exercise for 45 seconds (rest for 15 seconds)
Complete the circuit 3 times:
1st minute: plank (on toes and elbows please!)
2nd minute: hollow hold (raise legs + shoulders off the ground and hold)
3rd minute: flutter kicks (same position as hollow hold but we are adding in short + quick kicks of the legs – think swimming – without bending at the knee)
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Still not sure what these are?
Use these links for extra help:
Hollow hold: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WRHcG59yN2Q
Flutter kick: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ikIjQPgE47s
Please Note: It is important to always consult with your doctor or physio before starting any sort of fitness program post-pregnancy.