This week we are focusing on core during our Honey We’re Home Fitness Challenge! But, many people have requested a workout if you have diastasis recti (sometimes called “DR”). What is diastasis recti?Â It’s most common in women that have had children. It’s when your abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy (or other core trauma) and don’t go back together for awhile. There are varying degrees of this – from barely nothing at all to a pretty wide gap. You can check out Megan’s post here to see if you have it. Some people still have it years after having children and do not realize it. Does this mean your abs will never go back together?? Not always. If you really work on strengthening your entire core (not just abs in the front but also your back and shoulder girdle) you will notice a big improvement. Also, it does just take time. So, if you had a baby in the last year – cut yourself some slack and give your body time to heal.
If you DO have this, be sure to check with your doctor before doing any abdominal exercises – especially anything intense. Also, if you just had a baby less than 2 months ago, you may want to wait even longer before doing any abdominal work, especially if you do have DR. You can end up doing more harm than good if you try to really work your core when your muscles haven’t had a chance to repair themselves.
You want to avoid any exercises that make your abdominal muscles pop out or bulge out. This is why crunches aren’t recommended, because when you are crunching you are actually pushing your abdominals out at the top of the move. Planks can also be tricky because many people relax their abs when doing planks. However, if you are at least 6 months post-partum and are cleared by your doctor – some planks are ok. Just be sure to contract your core before you begin. You should actually do that before you begin doing any ab exercises!
Diastasis Recti Core Workout
*Warmup walk, jog or march in place for about 3-5 minutes.
Standing Side Bends (Works core – primarily obliques)
Instructions: Start standing tall with feet slightly wider than hips and legs straight – but not locked out. Then, keep your arms at your sides and while keeping your back straight, lean over towards your right side as you slide your hand or weight down your leg, then use your core to bring you back to the top. Just let your arms hang loose and let the core do all the work. Alternate sides. Just don’t arch your back or bend forward. Also, to remember to contract your abdominals while you do this and inhale as you go down and exhale when you come back to the top.
Reps/Sets: Aim for 20-30 reps alternating sides. Rest, then repeat for 2-3 sets.
Modifications: If your DR is minimal and you have been working out regularly – you can hold a weight in each hand while you do this move.
Running V-Sit (Works core, arms and hip-flexors)
Instructions: Sit on the ground with knees bent. Slowly lift feet off the ground while leaning back slightly and engaging your core. Once you have your balance, extend the legs out straight with your arms by your side. Bend elbows at 90 degrees and move your arms back and forth as if you were running.
Reps/Sets: Complete this move for 30-60 seconds. Rest and repeat for 2-3 sets.
Modifications: If itâ€™s too hard, you can keep your knees bent or your feet on the ground. To make it harder â€“ â€œrunâ€ faster and longer.
Seated Leg Raises (Works lower abdominals and quadriceps)
Instructions: Start seated in a chair or bench with knees bent. Then, straighten out right leg and place foot on the ground. Contract your abs and lean back slightly then bring your right leg up in the air where your right foot is level with your left knee. Lower back down to the ground (or almost to the ground) and repeat. You will primarily feel this exercise in your quads, but if you tighten your core and lean back slightly you will work your lower abdominals and hip flexors.
Reps/Sets: Do 30-45 reps on each leg (or about 45-60 seconds), aim for 2-3 sets
Modifications: If you are more advanced, you can wear ankle weights or place a loop
band around your ankles or calves. You can also turn your foot outward slightly (like in photo below) to work inner thighs as well.
Hip Bridges (Works core, glutes and hamstrings)
Instructions: Start lying on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Engage your core and glutes and lift your hips off the mat. Be careful not to thrust yourself up – but rather roll up starting with your hips first and then finally balance on your shoulder blades. You can place your hands out wide (like in photo), by your feet or even place hands on your hips for support. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and hold for 1-2 seconds, slowly lower down and then repeat.
Reps/Sets: 15-20 reps, aim for 2-3 sets
Modifications: To make it harder, you can hold one weight or 2 weights on your hip bones to add extra weight. To make it easier, don’t lift hips as high.
Plank With Knee TucksÂ (Works core, shoulders and legs)
Instructions: Start in “high” plank with arms straight and feet back behind you. Keep back flat and engage core by pulling your belly button up towards your spine. Release your right foot and bring your right knee towards your chest. Pause for 1-2 seconds and contract your core even more. Then, step back and repeat on the opposite side. Try to make a crunch shape with your core and you can even lift your hips up slightly higher when your knee is near your chest.
Reps/Sets: Try for 20 reps (10 on each side) and aim for 2-3 sets.
Modifications: For an easier exercise you can do “birddogs” (image below) which are similar but are on your knees. To make it harder – extend your opposite arm out straight and when you bring your knee to your chest, try to touch your elbow to knee.
*Remember -please check with your doctor before doing these exercises!