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In order to have a strong stomach, you need to complete exercises that will help strengthen your entire core.
Having abs that are visible is not a simple task for anyone, especially for a parent who doesn’t have a lot of time to focus on health and fitness all the time. Beyond that, if you’ve given birth (to all you mothers out there), your body has gone through some incredibly crazy exercises, and your core muscles have been stretched and strained quite a bit.
Your core muscles are generally defined by 3 primary muscle groups: your abs, your lower back, and your obliques (side muscles that run the side of your upper body). In order to have strong ab muscles, all of these muscles need to be worked out - having incredibly strong ab muscles but a weak lower back can easily lead to injuries down the road.
While diet is the real key to get your ab muscles to show, having a strong core is important so that you actually have ab muscles to show off. Beyond just having ab muscles, having a strong core is important in your daily activity and movements. If you struggle to lean over and pick your young baby up because you have weak back muscles, you’re much more likely to injure yourself.
If you’re a new mother, and recently given birth, please consult with your doctor before trying to exercise too heavily. While you may want to get up and at it, your doctor can direct you when it’s safe. Assuming you’re all clear to exercise as you’d like, you should be doing core exercises on a very regular basis as part of your workout routine. If you’re not working out regularly, then just doing core exercises by themselves are also beneficial.
One important thing to remember is that you are likely limited on time. If you're getting inspiration from Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube from the multitude of influencers on those platforms, then you need to realize a couple of things. First, they spend many hours just focused on fitness per day. Second, the majority of them do not have kids - there are some that do but most do not. Don't get discouraged if you can't get the results exactly as they have - your time and situation is very different.
If you need a few ideas on core exercises that you can do, below are some of my favorite exercises:
- Planks: These are the ultimate core exercise. Get down on the floor on your hands and knees. Put your forearms flat on the ground, and stick your feet out straight behind you. From your head to your foot should be a straight line while you hold yourself off of the floor. Hold for as long as you can.
- Side planks: Similar to a standard plank, but this time you only use one arm on the floor, and one foot on the floor. The side of your forearm is on the floor, and the side of your foot. Make sure to hit both sides, and if you want to increase your intensity then lift your leg (the one not on the floor) up.
- Hanging leg raise: Grab a pull up bar and let your body hang below. Lift your legs up straight out in front of you. Lower them slowly. To increase intensity, hold your legs straight in front of you and then spread your legs apart before bringing them back together and lowering them.
- Alternating toe touches: Lay on the ground, and then bring one leg in the air at about a 45 degree angle from your body. With the opposite hand, reach up and touch your toe. Repeat with the other leg.
- Banana roll: Lay on the ground, and put your legs up slightly, and your hands straight out behind your head (you should look kind of like a banana laying there). Roll over onto your stomach keeping your legs and arms straight out, but now bent the other way (you’ll feel this in your lower back). Roll over onto your back again. Repeat.
There are so many more core exercises out there. This is just a starting point for you. As you get into working out your core more, you’ll find lots of interesting moves that you can do to help you get stronger. Being able to comfortably play with your kids, and safely pick up heavy objects will make you feel better on a day to day basis.
As you workout your core, make sure that you also have your diet in order as well. Having strong abs and a strong core is really great, but moving into a healthy lifestyle will really help you to show off that hard work that you’re doing. You’ll also start to feel better about yourself, and your energy should improve as well.
Working out as a parent is a lot of work. While you probably won’t spend multiple hours at it per day, putting in a few minutes each day will make a large difference in how you feel about yourself and your body. You can make it happen if you choose.