Last updated on August 3rd, 2018
Four Ab Exercises Better Than Sit Ups
As moms, our abs have been ripped, stretched and just plain beaten from pregnancy and birth. And many of us want to fix them. However, the old school, body builder type of training which consists of high volume and only exercises like sit ups and crunches is most definitely not the way to go about it.
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As a mom, your focus needs to be on improving the way your midsection functions before anything else. Picking up, holding, carrying and playing with your babes all require a strong set of muscles (click here to really see why mamas need muscle!), not just pretty ones. And while sit ups and crunches do have their place, for most moms, especially new moms they can cause a bit more damage than good.
Through pregnancy your abdominals stretch (and sometimes separate). If you’ve had diastalsis recti you’ll need to treat that long before you’ll be rocking any serious ab training. But even if your abs didn’t fully separate sit ups and crunches both cause the belly to “round” or “bulge out” at the top of the movement. Instead of strengthening the abdominals after pregnancy, this further stretches them.
Instead, place your focus on training your abs to be functional. The purpose of your core is to keep you upright and prevent movement. Thus, exercises like anti-extension, anti- rotation and anti-lateral flexion all target those muscles and prepare them for day to day activities (If you’re a brand new mom click here for a few rehab exercises first!)
Below are four ab exercises that do just that – no sit up required! (Tip: check out a video demo of these exercises here)
Exercise #1 Deadbug
I love deadbugs, LOVE. They’re a fantastic anti-extension exercise performed on your back. This exercise teaches your body to resist the urge to extend the low back against tension. It requires you to maintain a slightly pelvic tilt against movement and thus, trains your entire core musculature.
Exercise #2 Parlof Presses
Parlof presses are an anti-rotation exercise. Your body has to fight to remain neutral as a force, or tension attempts to get it to twist. Keeping a neutral back and fighting the urge to rotate stimulates your entire side body. This can be done standing, kneeling, in half lunge position, with a press as a hold and more. There are literally tones of variations.
Exercise #3 Plank Walkouts
This exercise is one of my favorites but it’s not great for brand new moms. The exercise is an anti-extension exercise like the deadbug but instead of laying down your body will be in full plank position. The reason it’s not great for new moms is because of this position. As a brand new mom you’ll struggle to activate the muscles necessary to pull in your belly (those muscles are stretched remember?). So placing your body in a position where the belly in hanging only accomplishes making the problem worse.
If you’ve already rehabbed your abs than this exercise is great. The goal is to prevent your low back from extending as well as to reduce rotation as you move your arms away from your body and become more and more unstable.
Exercise #4 Cable Rotation/Rotational Pull
This exercise is a great rotational exercise and can be done standing or kneeling. It forces the muscles of the trunk to work together and requires a lot of stability. It’s an awesome way to target your midsection and improve strength.
Like any other exercise the rotation requires you to focus instead of just going through the movements. This trick and this trick alone is what will enable you to become strong and activate your muscles.
Here’s a demonstration of the exercises!
Don’t forget to pin these sit up alternatives!
So there you are, four exercises that not only target your midsection but force your body to work as one unit and improve its functionality. These four exercises are perfect substitutes for crunches and sit ups and will give you much more bang for your buck.
What’s your favorite ab exercise as a mama??