If you’ve sought out core exercises to help abolish your mummy tummy, you likely came across intensive ab exercises, like crunches. But what most woman are not aware of, is these types of core exercises can worsen your situation. This is because a mummy tummy is often a sign of a core dysfunction, known as Diastasis Rectus Abdomimus (DRA).
DRA is a separation of your outer 6-pack muscles, and a weakened connective tissue called linea alba. This is common in postpartum women, and can be with us for many years if we don’t work to correct the issue.
Without an opportunity to heal, and regain its integrity, the connective tissue remains weak and can lead to other issues including lower back pain, pelvic pain, incontinence and even pelvic organ prolapse.
The first step to a strong tummy, is to create a mind-body connection between our core and brain. No amount of bootcamps or crunches will achieve this.
Curling up in a crunch position creates a dome shape, putting pressure on your connective tissues and pelvic floor. Without a proper core connection, we are soon to experience other unpleasant core-related issues.
In a nut shell, this is why you will not find crunches in my workout routine.
One more thing I want to mention, we all know diet plays a major role in weight loss! We must take this into consideration, as well as exercise.
So before I get into my go-to core exercises, I want to offers some steps to consider when training our mid-section:
Go see a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist (PFP)
They can assess your core function and determine what exercises your body can manage without causing you more harm.
Learn about core function
You can find this is my new e-book on April 20th!
Create a mind-body connection to your core
This is achieved through a series of exercises over 8-weeks. While I have been doing one-on-one consultations and the Bellies Inc Core Confidence exercise program for over 2 years now, I am excited to bring this option to more people online in the coming months!
Choose exercises based on your needs
Some of the exercises I do are not suitable for those with a known core dysfunction. Consulting a PFP and following my Bellies Inc Core Confidence program will get you where you need to be.
There are so many other effective core exercises you can do, and I have included a few below.
Ok, it's time for a core workout!
Now that I’ve got some of the core disclaimers out of the way, here are 5 core exercises I include in my own workouts …
Supine Thigh Press and Heel Dip
THIGH PRESS: Lie on your back, pressing lower back gently into the floor or mat. Lift your legs up, bent 90º with knees over hip. Place hands on your thighs, finger tips pointing to knees.
INHALE to expand, EXHALE using core activation (use a core cue visualization word or feel your pelvic floor draw upward) and press on your thighs. Once you have completely exhaled, release the pressure on your thighs as you inhale. Complete 5 to 8 repetitions.
HEEL DIP: Start in the Thigh Press position, and lower your hands to your sides. INHALE and as you EXHALE with core activation, slowly lower one foot to the ground until you heel gently touches. Inhale as you lift your leg back to start and repeat on the other side. Care not to allow your lower back arch off the ground. Alternate each leg for up to 20 repetitions.
Dead Bug with Ball or Weight
As with the heel dips, for all three variations of dead bug, INHALE to expand then EXHALE with core activation as you lower your right arm and left leg. You can extend your leg out straight or keep it bend as with the heel dip, provided your lower back doesn't arch. Inhale as you return to start, and repeat on the other side. Alternate back and forth up to 20 times total.
Start with the basic dead bug, and when you can complete 20 repetitions with ease move to dead bug with ball then dead bug with weight.
Crouching Tiger / Plank
CROUCHING TIGER: Get onto all 4s with a neutral spine. Place a ball or towel between your knees. EXHALE using your core activation and squeeze the ball lifting knees 2 to 3 inches off the floor. Hold anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds breathing gently.
When you can hold comfortably for 30 seconds or more, move up to planks.
PLANK LEVEL 1: With your forearms on the ground, place your elbows under your shoulders and hands straight out in front. INHALE and EXHALE using core activation and lift your body off the ground from shoulders to knees. Hips should be about the same height as your shoulders. Hold for 15 seconds. Once you can hold with ease for 45 seconds, move up to PLANK LEVEL 2.
Start on your right hip. Place your right elbow under your shoulder. Dig the side of your right shoe into the floor so your ankle will lift off the ground. Lift your hips off the ground, until you have a straight line from head to feet. Raise your left arm straight up above your body. Hold for up to 45 seconds then switch sides.
Option: Bend your right knee 90º, keeping your thighs, hips and shoulders stacked.
Side Plank with Press and Rotation
This is one of my more advanced dynamic (with movement) core exercises I like to do. You can eliminate the weight to start as an option, as well as start with the lower leg bent 90º.
Start in a side plank position, pressing a weight towards the ceiling. Lower the weight to your chest, holding it against your body. Rotate your torso so your shoulders are almost parallel to the floor. Reverse the move to return to the start. Complete 8 to 12 repetitions, then switch sides.
Keep reading, I've got a special bonus for you ...
So there you have it! A few of my own go-to core exercises. But, I bet you're wondering how I use these in my workout? Well guess what! I'm putting together a video showing 3 of these moves, and talking about how and when I use them. I would love to share my core workout video routine with you! Click now to join the list!