To cardio or not to cardio. Wait...what's the question?
On the last blog post, a question was asked about what the best exercises were for post partum Mamas wanting to get back into the core training game. Before you begin a program, you have to do a little recon. Check for a split in your abdominals, aka Diastisis Recti, and that will determine your direction.
But first...what is Diastisis Recti, anyway?
Basically it is a thinning of the linea alba, or the flat tendon that connects the cans in your 6 pack. Common areas of thinning are around the belly button, but some people can have thinning all over the place. This doesn't only happen after pregnancy, either. It can happen from weight gain of any kind, and even weight lifting or vigorous abdominal exercise. And men can have it, too. So check yo self before you begin any core work to get the best results and avoid injury.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, and feet flat on the floor.
- Use one hand to support your head, and with the other hand on your abdomen, place your fingertips across your middle (about at the waist line) at the level of your belly button.
- Take a deep breath and relax your belly.
- Gently press your fingertips into your abdomen, and roll your upper body off the floor like you're doing a crunch. Aim like you're trying to touch your nose to your knees.
- Move your fingertips around, feeling for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis (6 pack) muscle. Test for separation at, above, and below your belly button.
- If you find some, measure it with finger widths. It may be different in certain areas, so really poke around and write down your findings so you can track improvement.
Once you have your information, you can select the right movements (and know the wrong ones) for your particular situation.
I'll get into the specifics in my next post, but for now I'll drop a bit of science and quick tips to get you started...
Crunches are whack. They can be fun sometimes (I don't never do them) but they don't get you much bang for your buck. They are not helpful with D.R., and in fact make it worse.
Activate the glutes. You must (must) get the buns on track before your abs will be happy. They're our dream team. They love each other. And notice I said activate. If you can't isolate your glutes and know when and how they are moving...start there.
Ab exercises are more effective when you get the glutes and delts involved. What? Yes. For reals? Mm hmm. You can even try it right where you are: squeeze your buns and push back on your shoulder. Your abs say, "hello", don't they? Getting those limbs involved increase the abdominal involvement and are far more impactful.
In the case of a D.R. diagnosis, you're going to bring up the strength in the supporters of the rectus abdominis first with exercises like glute bridges, squats (unweighted), Australian pull ups, wall sits, side plank, and wood chops. (Again, more on the specifics of those later, so stay tuned!)
What are some ways to change up the plank? Learn about modifications and amplification for this standard exercise.