photo courtesy of akt motion
New Mamas: Bounce Back
Welcome baby—life’s perfect package. In addition to going gaga over your baby, you’re looking to drop the baggage he or she brought along to your belly region. Enter Anna Kaiser, CEO and founder of AKT In Motion Studio, a massively popular cardio dance and strength workout program, which also happens to be a secret weapon for some of the ab-fabbest moms around including Kelly Ripa, Shakira and Sarah Jessica Parker.
“This is a time to celebrate your body,” says Kaiser. “You need to start slowly, taking mindful moves to heal and repair your body postpartum.” Start with the basics and forget the uber sweat sessions. “Engaging and accessing the deep transverse abdominals is paramount,” she explains. Strengthening these muscles can avoid injuries and, in the long term, enhance results.
Now, take out the stability ball you bought for labor.
Sit on the ball with your back straight and your feet planted on the ground shoulder-width apart. Make sure shoulders are over hips, neck long, chin parallel to the floor. Place one or both hands on your stomach and deeply inhale. Feel the breath move to the deepest part of your core. Breathe in through the nose, count to 10, and gently release through your mouth. Repeat 10 times. Do two to three sets.
Keeping the same starting positioning, add an abdominal contraction to each breath. Breathe in, pull your abs in toward your spine. Hold. Count to 10 and release breath before releasing your stomach muscles. Repeat 10 times. Do two to three sets.
The final move to this series “is a serious challenge,” says Kaiser. Start in the same position, shoulders down and head balanced. Inhale, pull abs in. Release halfway. Hold count to five, re-engage the muscles toward spine. Exhale and release. Repeat 10 times. Do two to three sets.
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles helps support the deep abs. “Too often people think of Kegels as ‘holding pee,’ but it is better to imagine a napkin,” says Kaiser. Pull the tips of the napkin (from front to back) toward each other. Think of bringing the napkin up, in a pinching manner. Sit on the stability ball, feet flat on the ground and hip distance apart, shoulders over hips, head balanced. Inhale. Pull in. Count to five. Exhale and release. Place your hands on your stomach. If you feel your abs move, you aren’t actively engaging your pelvic floor. This is an isolation move. Aim for 20 reps. Do two to three sets.
shutterstock.com / africa studio
Sure your stomach has been through the ringer, but your shoulders and upper back are now getting taxed thanks to feeding, pumping, lifting and other baby chores. Lie on the floor, face down, legs extended, neck long, hands positioned slightly in front of your shoulders. Pull abs toward spine and engage glutes. Inhale, lift your forehead off the floor, keeping neck long.
Engage shoulders as you lift your torso and press your hands into the floor. Keeping your body in a straight line, shoulders pressing back, inhale at the top. Exhale and slowly return to start position, keeping abs lifted and legs on the floor throughout. Aim for two to three sets of 10. aktinmotion.com