Get Back Your Pre-Pregnancy Abs With Side Planks

The foundation of fitness for a mom is her abdominal area. To moms a flat stomach is wonderful; a strong abdominal core is critical. The cool thing is, you can get both at the same time with side planks.

Side planks are great for toning, without enlarging, the obliques on the side of your abdomen. Strong oblique muscles also add powerful stability to your back. Asthetically, side planks can sculpt your stomach in ways crunches or sit-ups just can't do. The nice thing about side planks is they can be done in little time and you don't need any equipment.

Before we get on to how to do them, I just want to add a little incentive...

A Mom with Poor Abdominal Strength is an Accident Waiting To Happen Let's face it, as your child grows the physical demand placed on your body increases. You start out holding a 8 lb. newborn in your arms, but that quickly changes into holding a 25 lb. toddler who twists and turns quickly.

You may be required to sweep your toddler up with your right arm while holding another child in the left. You may have to carry a 40 lb. child who is unhappy and doing whatever it takes to squirm from your grasp. If your body is incapable of handling these tough physical demands it will let you know, because back pain and fatigue will start compounding. Is your body prepared to handle the stress being placed on it?

A Side Plank A Day Keeps Back Pain Away Planks, build functionally strong, stabilizing abdominal muscles that allow you to bend, twist and reach with less chance of injury. Beginning an abdominal strengthening program now will prepare you for when your infant becomes a toddler and for those times your toddler becomes antsy and unruly.

Planks can not only give you back your pre-pregnancy abs, but they will prepare your body to deal with being a mom of a toddler! So let's get to the exercise itself.

How to Side Plank:

1) Begin by lying on your left side. Bend your left elbow and place the forearm on the floor directly under your shoulder. Your weight should be supported on the forearm and the left hip. Your right arm should be resting along the right side of your body with the hand resting on the right thigh.

2) Rise up so your body weight is resting on your left forearm and the edge of your left foot. Wear shoes that have a good edge on the sole to avoid slippage once you're in place. If you find this to be too difficult, start by placing your weight between your forearm and knee. After a few weeks, you'll be able to move to the more difficult position in which you are supporting your body between your forearm and your foot rather than your knee.

3) Lift your body up as high as you can and contract your abdominal muscles by bringing navel to spine. Attempt to form a straight line from your armpit along the side of your ribs to your hip, and down to your ankle just above your left foot. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds to start with. You can increase to 20 seconds over several weeks, but your goal should be to eventually build up to at least 60 seconds for each slow contraction.

4) Slowly lower your body back to the floor, then immediately rise as high as you can and hold it again. Repeat on the right side. Start with two sets of 10 repetitions on each side.

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Helpful Hints:

- Don't hold your breath. This increases abdominal pressure which feels easier, but prevents you from getting the full benefits of the movement. Take a breath and exhale as you are lifting into the bridge.

- Avoid twisting or turning your trunk. This might cause a side strain and slow your progress.

- Stop if you feel back pain Everyone has their own rate of progression. If you feel pain in your back, stop. Try again on the next workout and you'll find your back will start getting stronger. If back pain continues, stop and consult a fitness professional.

Finish with a stretch

After doing your planks, lie on your back, relax, bend your knees with feet on the floor and tilt them from side to side. Do this a few times to lengthen your back and abdominal muscles.

Strong, flexible abdominal muscles are a moms best friend. Start developing yours today with side planks!

Curt Conrad, CSCS, is Founder and President of StrollerFit Inc. an international product and franchise company that helps parents exercise with their babies. He is author of The StrollerFit ExerBook. His companies have helped thousands of clients enjoy better life through better fitness. http://www.strollerfit.com

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