Castle Personal Training is a Corstorphine, Edinburgh based company who specialise in weightloss/toning and Pre and Post Natal exercise.
One of the most common complaints by mums is that they can’t get rid of the little bulge below the belly button. Their DR might be gone but that lower belly is still sticking out a bit.
You know the bit I mean, it’s not excess skin or a bit of stubborn fat, that bit below your belly button down to your pelvic floor that looks like there still might be a little bit of baby stuck in there or you look like your permanently bloated. No matter how much exercise you do, you just can’t seem to get that bit flat?
This is the bit we’re talking about.
Well I’ve got the solution, and the exercises, to that right here.
See, the problem a lot of people, including men and girls/ladies who have never been pregnant, have is that parts of the inner-core muscles are not activating properly.
Most people don’t notice this too much as they are mainly concerned with aesthetics and it’s probably not that pronounced when you’re younger. During your pregnancy however that lower part of your core comes under quite a bit of pressure, due to the big baby constantly sitting on it and all that, and that spells trouble for a lot of mums. You obviously won’t necessarily notice it whilst you’re pregnant as you expect a bigger rounder belly anyways but it will be noticeable after you’ve given birth.
Note that having a C-section or vaginal delivery does not make an inch of difference to this, by the way. This is important to be aware of; the “damage” is done by the area being weak before pregnancy and then during it, not during the delivery.
Most of my pre-natal clients have relatively “tight packages”. Because we work on the lower part of the core, and glutes and obliques, the support the baby/babies get during the pregnancy means it all stays a bit tighter. I point this out especially for those of you looking to get pregnant, or just wanting to train this area up as you want a flatter belly, you don’t need to wait until you’re pregnant to start training this area.
The main muscles we want to work here are are called the TVA ( Transverse Abdominis) and, just by doing a few simple exercises, you can really target them very nicely.
That’s the one.
As I always point out to all my clients, both male and female; it’s important to get your breathing right when you exercise. If you follow the core breath during every exercise you do, you will soon start to see and feel a big difference. Breathing from the “bottom up” means that the lower part of your core activates before the top part and this will make a big difference. Do this during your glute bridges, bent over rows, squats, lunges etc every time you train them.
Then to further the targeting of the TVA, once your core is relatively stable, you can start doing the Vacuum exercise.
Note that you can do this standing up or lying down, both are fine.
If you are not that familiar with core exercises then you could also do the following.
Note that you can do this with your legs bent instead of straight if you feel your core is not yet strong enough to stay in control when you straighten your legs. Your core is not yet strong enough when your belly starts “popping out” during this exercise so start bending your legs then
Once you are confident that you are in control of your core, as in your belly button is not popping out everytime you do an ab exercise, you can do what I call, a TVA leg raise.
Now the video above shows you a normal leg raise as, amazingly, there is no video of a TVA leg raise and I don’t have an active Youtube channel because I’m a “real-life” PT 😉 I’ll try to find some time to shoot some stuff in the next few months. Anyways, the TVA activation comes when, instead of doing them as above, you cross your legs and then push your bottom leg into your top leg and your top leg down into your bottom leg before doing the raises. That way your lower core has to work much harder and it becomes a really tough exercise.
As always, keep your belly button tucked in! If you find you can not do this with your belly button tucked in and proper breathing then you have to slow down a bit.
Finally you should also do some side planks and other oblique exercises;
You can also do a half side plank, on your knees, if you can’t do the full one yet.
And the oblique crunch or a variation thereof.
Make sure you do this one properly, it’s not about coming up off the ground, it’s about folding over!
Now, obviously there are loads of caveats I can put in here about making sure you are being sensible and other exercises are available but, since you’re reading my blog, I’m assuming you’re a relatively sensible person and you understand that if something looks or feels wrong then you shouldn’t be doing it. Before loads of other Personal Trainers start emailing me again, as has happened before; Yes other exercises might well be better for your clients, I’m just giving an overall idea of the muscles to be worked to help solve this particular issue. the list is not exhaustive and some more work might well be required 🙂
Having said all that; if you do the above well, you’ll notice a difference faster than you think you will 🙂
Here’s an exciting update; From January 2019 we’re launching healthypostnatalbody.com A big online resource full of exercises and circuits to help you heal your Diastsis Recti, improve your posture and help heal, and prevent, back and neck pain. We also have 2 forums, one for expert post-natal exercise advice and a forum where members can support eachother and share practical tips. And, the best news, it’s only $10 a month after a free 30 day trial.