As a physical therapist and perinatal fitness instructor, I am often asked by new moms how to best shed the post-baby pounds and regain a waistline. One of the most effective exercises I have found is the plank , which is why it's a common feature in my classes on BabyWeight.TV. Here is a series of six great variations of the plank that will help you lose the baby weight and get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans (the following exercises are for postpartum moms at least six weeks after birth. Wait until at least eight weeks after a c-section, with doctor approval, of course.)
Beginners can take a rest in child's pose for three breaths between each of the exercises. More advanced levels can try to do two or three of the exercises before a short rest. Start with 2-3 sets of the series. Work your way up to 5 for a great strengthening and toning workout! You can follow along on this video:
1. Start with the basic plank. With hands under shoulders and hips in line with your body, up on your toes in the push-up position, press up with the backs of the knees and back with the heels. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
2. The up, down plank. From the plank position, inhale to lower down to one elbow then the other. Exhale to press back up to Plank, one hand at a time. (down, down; up, up) Repeat 5 reps on each side.
3. The side plank. From the plank position, place your right hand under your nose and roll over to the side edges of your feet while you lift your left hand to reach up toward the sky. Imagine a sling drawing the hips up toward the sky. Hold 5 breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
4. The side knee plank. From the plank position, exhale to lift the right knee out the side, moving the knee toward the right shoulder while looking at the knee. Inhale to return to plank, looking between your hands. Repeat on the opposite side. Repeat 5 reps each side.
5. The leg lift plank. When you're in the plank position, exhale to lift the right foot about a foot off the floor. Inhale to return to plank. Repeat left. Repeat 5 reps each side.
6. Step-outs. From the plank position, exhale to step one foot then the other out to the side. Inhale to step one foot then the other back in to plank (out, out; in, in). Repeat 5 reps on each side.
If your wrists bother you, you can do all but #2 down on your elbows. Enjoy!
What are your go-to moves for a fast workout?