So, you want a flatter tummy? Great, but where do you start? Most people go straight to good old traditional crunches and sit ups. While these are great exercises, they are not always the answer, here's why...
First off, abdominal exercises don't necessarily burn many calories, so while you might be getting stronger abs, if you are carrying excess weight in that area, you won't see them. So you need to be eating correctly and adding a little cardio to your workouts.
You also need to think of your core as a whole, and not just that small area around your belly. You core as a whole contains a huge array of muscles, all of which need to be worked. Excessive strength in just one area will cause problems. There must be a balance of tension between all of the muscles. The common practice of only exercising the rectus abdominis, whilst leaving the other core muscles untouched simply promotes an imbalance.
The job of your core muscles is to support and protect your spine. The various core muscles span front to back, top to bottom to hold it vertically and protect it during movements. They must not only be strong, but flexible too, so incorporating stretches is just as important. It's also important to remember that your pelvic floor is a part of your larger core, and its strength and tone contributes towards a stronger core as a whole, so while its easy to forget about this muscle, please don't. I urge you to do simple pelvic floor exercises as often as possible. Preferably daily. It's not just about stopping those little "accidents", but consider you pelvic floor strength as pivotal to your overall core strength, posture and well being as any other muscle.
Planks, crunches, sit-ups etc can put undue outward pressure on the fascia between the abdominals if not properly controlled. In extreme circumstances, this can lead to the belly looking rounder, not flatter, so its important to understand how to control your muscles during these exercises. You should also make sure the upper and lower portions are worked, as well as your oblique (waist) muscles. But remember, everything is linked and must work together, so this includes thinking about your lower and upper back and buttocks too. You should pay particular attention to these areas post partum to help correct any postural misalignment caused during pregnancy.
If you succeed in creating a strong & supple core, and surrounding muscles, you will benefit in so many ways including reduced risk of lower back injury & lower back aches, improved posture, increased functional strength, better balance and yes, eventually, if you combine it all together, you will see the changes in your body and get a flatter tummy.
I have recently completed filming for my online packages which don't just show you these exercises, but explain how to perform them correctly and safely to get the best results. There are two packages, the first is a post-natal safe pelvic floor & core. This is suitable not just for new mums, but for anyone who has a very weak core or pelvic floor and wants to start right at the beginning. The second will work not just your core, but your whole body. By using cardio, strength and flexibility training specifically designed for women, my aim is to help you become strong and supple.
So, keep your eyes on my website as they will soon be available, or you can let me know if you're interested and I'll pop you on the mailing list so you're one of the first be notified once they're published. And,as always, if anyone has any questions, please do get in touch x