How to Tone Up Your Post-Baby Belly

By James Duigan :: Founder of Bodyism

Image Credit :: Bodyism

I’m in awe of my wife Chrissy. Last week she just gave birth to our third child, Rafaella. Having a child is an incredible experience and we’re blessed with 3, Charlotte, Leonardo and now Rafaella. It’s such a big event emotionally but also physically on a woman’s body.

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So firstly, if you’re reading this it’s not about losing weight fast, it’s about helping you be kind to yourself and to focus on your health and the health of your beautiful family. This is for all the mums out there who have never quite managed to get back on track after having children. I get a lot of female clients who had babies six months or even years ago, and they often ask me how to get rid of their “mum tum” – the soft, jiggly, post-baby stomach. It can often include a fold of fat even when the rest of the body is fairly slim.

The good news is that, even if you had your baby several years ago, it’s never too late. You may not restore your pre-baby stomach back to exactly how it was, but you can achieve something that resembles it with a few small changes to your life and an exercise routine. It’s important to know that we’re not re-creating the wheel here, I’m just passing on some helpful advice that I know works for my clients at Bodyism.

Nutrition-wise, one of my first recommendations is to take a good-quality fish oil supplement. Studies show that this switches on the fat-burning hormones and – crucially – turns off the fat-storing ones. Fish oils also encourage your body to burn fat around your midsection, which is often the area most women want to change after having children.

Secondly, if you haven’t been doing them already, get into the habit of doing your pelvic-floor exercises every day. You should do these soon after giving birth. In fact, every woman should do them every day, whether she has had children or not. But even if you haven’t done any, start now. Keeping your pelvic-floor muscles strong acts as an internal corset and pulls your stomach in from the inside (this isn’t the technical term, but it’s a simple way of describing what happens in general), creating a more toned and flat-looking midsection.

Your pelvic-floor muscles are the ones you would use if you were trying to stop yourself from peeing. Squeeze and clench them (as if you were stopping the flow) for a few seconds. Do 15–20 squeezes, five times a day. The great thing about these exercises is you can do them anywhere at any time, and nobody will even know you’re doing them.

As well as pelvic-floor exercises, here are some other exercises that are great for targeting that “mum tum”. Try to perform this workout 2–4 times a week on non-consecutive days but, if you haven’t exercised for a while, build up to this slowly, with two workouts a week to begin with. When you find that you have more energy and are getting stronger, you can increase the amount of time you train. If you’ve just had your baby take some time before trying an exercise routine. In the early days follow the advice from your GP and when you’re ready you can increase your physical activity. Remember to listen to your body and keep eating nourishing foods to support your increased activity levels.

EXERCISE REPS SETS REST
Squat with push press 12–15 2–3 30 secs
Row with towel 10–15 2–3 30 secs
Squat 12-15 2-3 30 secs
Triceps dip 8-10 2-3 30 secs
Opposites 10 per side 2-3 30 secs
Ts 10 per side 2-3 60 secs

Squat with push press

Start position: Stand with your hips shoulder-width apart and holding a weight, or even a large bottle of water, in each hand. Squat down, keeping your chest open, and raise your hands in front of your shoulders. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards the spine.

The movement: Stand up by pushing through the heels and bring the hips forwards so that the knees and hips are extended. As the hips fully extend, push the water bottles (or weights) over your head so that the arms, hips and knees are fully extended. Then slowly lower the water bottles (or weights) to the starting position and repeat 12–15 times.

*Top tip

This exercise will help strengthen your glutes and shoulders.

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Row with towel

Start position: Wrap a towel securely around a post or narrow tree trunk. Stand near the post or tree and take the ends of the towel in your hands, then extend your arms out fully, leaning backwards. Keep the weight on your heels and a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards the spine.

The movement: Keeping your elbows tucked in, pull your body up so your hands are brought close to your chest whilst your body remains in a straight line. Return to the start position and repeat 10–15 times.

*Top tip

This exercise will strengthen your back muscles, which are essential for improving your posture – a key area for a new mother carrying her baby. It is a great exercise to do outdoors.

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Squat

Start position: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands clenched in front of your chest. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards the spine.

The movement: Keeping your hands clenched in front of your chest, squat down by pushing your hips back and bending the knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Throughout the movement, keep your torso upright and knees wide apart. Return to the start position by pushing through the hips and the heels and repeat 12–15 times.

*Top tip

This exercise will help strengthen your glutes, hamstrings and thighs.

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Triceps dip

Start position: Using a step/low chair/bench, sit your back and bum against the front and place your hands behind you on the edge. Keep your knees at 90 degrees, heels on the floor and toes up in the air. Lift your body up so that your hips are off the step and level with your hands. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards the spine.

The movement: Slowly lower yourself down towards the ground by bending the arms until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Then return to the start position by pushing your palms down on the support. Repeat 8–10 times.

*Top tip

This exercise will strengthen and tone your arms.

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Opposites

Start position: Support yourself on your hands and knees with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Maintain a flat back and keep your neck in a straight line with your back. Place your left hand on the base of your neck. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards the spine.

The movement: Lift your right leg up as if showing the outside of your thigh to the sky, keeping the knee bent, whilst you simultaneously raise your left elbow to the sky. Finish so that your right knee and your left elbow are level with your back. Aim to keep your hips and shoulders parallel to the floor throughout the movement. Slowly return to the start position. Repeat 10 times on each side.

*Top tip

This is an incredibly effective exercise to help improve the strength of your postural muscles and lower back.

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T

Start position: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and lean forwards so your torso is at a 45-degree angle. Keep your head and back all in a straight line, your shoulders back and down and your hands directly below your chest with fists clenched and thumbs pointing outward. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards the spine.

The movement: Keeping your body still and your core engaged, raise your arms out to the sides to form a ’T’ shape, then return to the start position. Repeat 12–15 times.

*Top tip

Performed slowly and under control, this is a great postural move for your upper back to stop your shoulders from slumping forwards.

I hope this helps ladies. Be kind to yourself!

James Duigan x

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