Showing posts with label Abs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abs. Show all posts

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Vacuum For Moms

I vacuum when I bend over to pick up a toy on the floor, I vacuum when I drive, I even vacuum when I vacuum.  As silly as this may sound, I really do it.  And you should too. Vacuum exercise is a tried and tested method many body builders use to use back in the day (think Arnold Schwarzenegger when he use to be one) to get those really skinny waists despite the massive muscles they displayed elsewhere in their bodies.  It is not as popular nowadays but it is a very powerful tool for us moms to cinch our waists back down after carrying our babies in the womb for 9 months and overstretching our abdominal muscles to the point you think you are going to pop.


If you Google vacuum exercises for body builders you will see some scary stuff. This exercise for body builders was made famous by a guy named Frank Zane and it looks like this:

Wheresamommy Vacuum Pose Body Builders


Cool, right? I'm telling you right now, there's no way I can get my stomach to look sucked in like this yet.  I've tried, but it is SO HARD to do.  However, I will tell you that you will benefit from practicing the beginners pose (and then adding the challenge as you get more confident) from the start. If you practice and are able to properly do it (like the picture above) let me know.  My version is adapted for everyday life and on the go practice.  You will notice your midsection whittle down within a few weeks.  The caveat here, you have to practice it.  You can't expect to have a tiny waist by doing this once.  Remember, you have to be consistent. 

The science here is that you will work two parts of your body that had to give out in order to support your growing bun in the oven.  One is the TVA (transverse abdomini muscle) and the membrane that connects all the muscles together (it has a very complicated name - thorocobular fascia - you just need to know what it does).  When you do the vacuum exercise properly you attack these two problems from the inside and end up with a skinny mini waist.

How to Get Your Flat Belly 

In all 3 moves below, breathe with your diaphragm.  Expand your belly and rib cage with an inhale, on the exhale, bring your belly button to your spine and contract your abdomen muscles. To start, hold the exhale (or belly button to spine) for 20 seconds.  Increase to as you go along.  After you get a hang of it, you don't have to hold your breath anymore.  You can keep muscles contracted but breathe through it. 


Beginner

Hold exhale for 20 seconds to start


Intermediate (the known and loved Cat/Cow from your yoga class) 

Hold exhale for 20 seconds to start

Vacuum on the Go
You can do this last move anywhere you are.  Sitting in the car at pick up, folding laundry, making dinner, anywhere! You certainly don't have to be sitting on your feet for this last move to work.  I just needed to be sitting like this to fit in the picture.

Hold exhale for 20 seconds to start


Vacuuming for moms - Take your vacuum to go

As you already know because you read my first post (wink, wink), my mom used to tell me when I was a teenager to engage my ab muscles and "suck my belly in" all the time. I heard her. I do that frequently and it has become a habit of mine.  Now I don't think about it.
I'm always working on something. Be it kegels when I'm driving, or vacuuming when I'm vacuuming.  I'm always trying to improve myself.
I know your life is busy, I get it, I'm a mom too.  I know it is hard to try to remember to do kegels (those your OBGYN has told you to do every time you are at a red light), and now I'm telling you should be constantly pulling your belly button towards your spine?  Do you want a flat belly? Do you wish there was something simple you could do to solve the protruding belly? You know where I'm going, right? You have to do the work to see the results.  Sticking with it is the best way to see results. Just reading about it will not improve the appearance of your six-pack.  You can do it right now! I am doing it...
Set a reminder on your phone, try to make a habit of doing the vacuum exercise it in the car.  A few seconds to start with, increase it as you go along.  True story, I have an app for kegels that counts 10 seconds to squeeze and 10 seconds to relax and every time I get in the car I set it, as soon as the timer beeps, my son wants to know what the exercises I'm doing are for (he had asked me before what that noise was and I said I was just doing some exercises). I don't need a timer for the vacuum exercises and I do it right after kegels are done.  It doesn't matter if you are a new mom or has had your kids a while back. Anyone can benefit from doing it.
Do it consistently for a month and let me know if you feel the difference.  Take a picture before you start and another a month later.  Show the results on Instagram and tag @wheresamommy with the hashtag #vacuumexercise.  Are you ready for the challenge?


Disclaimer: I'm not saying you will lose weight by doing these exercises.  You will notice change in your abdominal muscles! I just want to be clear because to lose fat you will have change diet and exercise. This exercise is to compliment the program you are already doing.  Just saying!



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lower abs exercises - little bit more challenge

I wanted to share with you some lower ab exercises that are a little bit more challenging and are a great way to add progress to the first and second routines I have previously posted for closing your diastasis recti gap.
Feel free to add these to your exercises and mix and match with any of my past posts.  Just be mindful that if this is your first time visiting my blog and you are trying to lose the mommy pouch you need to evaluate your DR gap first


Lower/Side Abs - Knee Punch

getmybodyback getyourbodyback wheresamommy
Knee Punch



You can use either the bench at the gym for this exercise or a mat at home.  Just make sure you have something to hold on to behind your head (I've used the bottom of my couch before, you just need something to put your hands under to support your body when you bring your legs up).  While lying flat on your back, hold on to the chosen support and with feet crossed and knees bent at a 90 degree angle, raise your bottom from the mat/bench by punching up with your knees and twisting to one side.  When lowering to starting position let your knees go past down the 90 degree stage towards your feet just a little bit.  Alternate sides.  Start with 10 reps on each side and add more when you need challenge.



Side Abs - Bosu X Scisors




Lean your back against a Bosu ball with your bottom almost touching the floor but not quite, position your feet on the floor with your knees bent and a little bit wider than hip width apart (you'll have to find the most comfortable position for best balance).  Position your hands on the floor with arms extended to your side.  This is the neutral position.  To start, extend your right leg out to the side just a little wider than original position and lift it to meet your left hand up on top (the leg is straight for this move). The leg does not go up and down towards the middle, but towards the side.  The secret here is to think of your body as an X and extend your leg to the side and your arm back as you complete the movement.  I'll try to get a better shot of this exercise to show you how it flows.  Start with 10 on each side and add reps as they start to feel too easy.



Different angle so you can see the proper let position:





Lower Abs - Jackknife




My friend Amy showed me this one and it has become one of my favorites because I really feel my abs working.  This is a tricky one to set up and thank goodness for videos, but I'll try to tell you what I'm doing here.  You basically start on a plank position with your shins on a stability ball.  As if you had a magic string pulling your hips up, use your core to bring your feet close to your chest while your legs are straight and lift your hips all the way up, almost to a handstand.  You will need to adjust your feet a few times until you are comfortable for this exercise.  That's one rep.  Do as many as you can, this one is a toughie! The stronger your core the better balance you will have.  It is hard in the beginning, but practice makes perfect, right!?



BONUS




Hamstrings/Core - Stability Ball Bridge





If you see me at the gym you probably have seen me doing this exercise many times.  I love to combine this exercise with my must do leg workout.  Lay on the mat with your feet on the side of the stability ball and your knees on a 90 degree angle and your hands resting by your side next to your hips.  Without moving the ball (this part is the balance challenge of this exercise) raise your hips while squeezing your glutes to where you are on a high bridge position.  Lower back down and repeat 12 times.  As always, add more reps as needed. 



Feel free to ask questions.  Hope the videos help you find the proper form, which is very important!!


Equipment used 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Is a Waist Trimmer worth it?

Have you ever seen those waist belts people put on to exercise that promise to make you lose fat and shed inches of your waist? Those belts come in many names like waist trimmer, waist band, workout belt and waist trainer.  I have been using one while I work out for years now.  But I don't use it with the purpose to lose fat. That will not happen by simply wearing a waist band, but I will tell you why I wear it.

The belts don't make the fat melt
At one point I did think that wearing a belt around my waist would help melt fat.  You can burn fat cells, but only doctors should do that with lasers and approved devices (or dieting).  My friends at The Skin Care Professionals have good information on innovative treatments like Reaction and CoolSculpting that can get rid of fat without dieting if you are interested.  Back to the belt, after wearing it for a while, I started researching what the benefits of the waist trainer were and I found out it is a myth that you can burn more fat just by wearing the band while working out. You might notice your waist smaller if you take the belt off after a good workout session, but all likelyhood you lost water thru sweat.  That is ok if you drank plenty of water as well.  You would not want to get dehydrated because of it.  If you are on a good path and you are eating a healthy diet and exercising, you can notice progress.  Just keep in mind it is slow and you just have to stick with it.  That is the hardest part, isn't it? 

Why I still wear it
You might think I'm crazy for wearing it if it does not do what it's promised.  But truth is I wear it because I want to train my muscles to stay in place when I am working out.  Now that I am 2 years removed from pregnancy I have moved on to more challenging exercises.  If you follow me on Instagram you probably have seen my little motivational video snippets.  In time I will also post here my favorite workout moves that have helped me get my body back after having kids.  So when I do crunches and other core exercises I like to have the waist trainer on to help me remind to keep my abs engaged and pull my belly button towards my spine.  That way, I will not force my muscles out and cause my belly to protude out again.  It is possible  to revert the progress you have made to close the diastasis recti by forcing your abs out during an exercise, so make sure to do them correctly. Basically I use a belly wrap to serve as an external girdle that will keep my internal girdle (my abs) in place.  A word of caution though, don't wear it all day all the time.  It is just to aid you during exercise.  Wearing it for extended periods of time might actually cause more harm than good by weakening the muscles because you are relying on an external form of support and not using your muscles to do it.

My favorite waist trimmer belt


Go for it, but keep a few things in mind
* You are not supposed to wear the waist band 24/7.  It should be worn only during workouts to help you be aware of keeping the proper form.  You want your muscles to do the work too, so they get toned and you look better.  
* Don't expect to burn extra fat as a result of wearing the belt.  Proper nutrition combined with exercise will cause you to lose weight.  Not a belt.
* If you wear a waist trimmer belt be sure to drink plenty of extra water.  You'll sweat a lot more due to the heat created by the belt.
* Ladies have been wrapping themselves for centuries to create an illusion of smaller waist.  You can look your best by wearing one a few hours a day and still have your freedom for the rest of the day.  Isn't that the best of both worlds? 

I hope you get some good results by wearing a waist trimmer belt combined with the proper post pregnancy workouts.  Feel free to share your results with before and after pictures and tag #wheresamommy.

Shop for them here

Monday, July 20, 2015

Work those abs without crunches

So now that you have tried the other exercises, I want to add a couple more that are still in the same category of easy but effective.  The more you work on those muscles the quicker the results will be. The good thing about these moves is that you do not need to go to the gym to do it.  All you need is a soft surface like a yoga mat or your living room area rug.


Modified table top


Starting position
Start on a table top position. With your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulder and a straight spine relax your belly muscles so your "pooch" hangs down.  Your spine should remain straight here, only your abdominal muscles relax.

Pull belly button towards spine
With your spine still straight, pull your belly button towards your spine so that you contract your abdominal muscles.  This exercise is an added challenge as gravity adds some resistance when you contract your muscles.  Return to initial position, repeat 10 times.


Table top with leg and arm raise


Starting position
Start on a table top position. With your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulder and a straight spine.  

Add leg and arm raise
During an exhale, raise one leg and the opposite arm simultaneously as shown in the picture above.  Keep your raised foot flexed and contract your abdominal muscles to strengthen your core.  Repeat 10 times each side.



Monday, July 13, 2015

Add more exercises to your repertoire

It is always nice to have a variety of exercises that target the same area so you can work the muscles differently.  Switching things up will make sure your muscles don't get used to the same old exercises and will react to them in a positive way by tightening the muscles and closing the DR gap.

This series is a little bit more challenging but these exercises are still gentle yet effective.

Toe tap



Starting Position
Start by laying on your side legs straight stacked on top of each other.  Raise your torso with support of arms and place your elbow on the floor directly under your shoulder so your upper body is raised slightly.  Keep your spine straight. You can place a hand on your abdomen to feel the movement.

Toe tap front
On an inhale, bring your top leg forward and tap the tip of your toes on the floor in front of you.  Keep your bottom foot flexed. 


Toe tap back
On an exhale, bring your leg back past the neutral position and touch the tip of your toes back behind you.  Repeat 10 times each way.  Engage the abdominal muscles and pull your belly button in towards your spine.  Then flip around to work the other side so you are even.
Leg raise
Raise top leg first

Start by laying on your side legs straight stacked on top of each other. Place your hand under your head for support.  While you inhale, separate your feet by lifting the top leg up.



Then bottom leg follows

On an exhale, bring your bottom leg to meet the top one.  You can place your hand on your belly for feedback or on the mat in front of your belly for support.  Bring both feet down at the same time.  Repeat 10 times on this side, always bringing the top leg up first, then the bottom one follows. Then turn around and do the same to even out both sides.

Upper body raise

Starting position
Start by laying on your side legs straight stacked on top of each other.  Place the bottom hand on your top shoulder while your top hand goes on the mat by your bottom shoulder.  I know it can be confusing, but hopefully the picture will provide some clarification.  You basically just want to get your bottom arm out of the way, so you place it across your chest.  Inhale.

Upper body raise

Then on an exhale, push through the hand placed on the mat to raise your upper body off the floor a few inches. Go as high as you are comfortable.  You'll feel the top side working here.  Repeat 10 times and then turn around to do the other side.

As you can see this series is mostly laying on your side and working those side muscles deeply.  Always be aware of your breath and contract your abdomen on an exhale and relax it on the inhale.  Think that you are squeezing the air out when you exhale and filling it with air on the inhale.  

An after thought... 

Breathing is very important and when you coordinate your muscles with your breathing you can maximize the muscle work.  In fact, I often just engage my ab muscles while driving, blogging, or sitting around watching my kids (that is when I'm not doing kegels!).  At first I liked to feel my belly expanding and contracting so I would have my hand on my stomach to learn what I was doing.  Now it comes automatically  to me.  My mom once told me when I was a teenager that I should always keep my abs engaged and I would have a flat belly.  I am a big believer of that have always tried to follow it.  It sounds like I'm always squeezing something, doesn't it? Well, I try.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Get your body back

After you have tested your abdominal muscles for diastasis recti, you can start working on exercises to close the gap.  These exercises will help you start closing the abdominal muscles that separated during pregnancy.  To start, repeat this circuit 3x a week.  You will not need a fancy gym to do it, and the only equipment I used was an elastic exercise band.  But if you don't have one you can get creative and use any elastic material around the house, for example the leg of a pantyhose or tights.

These are gentle exercises that you can do and work your way up to a stronger core.  Please get clearance from your doctor if you are within the 6 or 8 weeks postpartum.

Pelvic Tilts 
Starting position
Lie flat on your back shoulder blades squared, touching the mat. Knees are bent and heels close to your bottom (you should be able to almost touch your heels with the tip of your fingers with your arms by your side). Abdominal muscles are relaxed - inflate your belly on the inhale.

Pelvic tilt
With very tiny movements, lift your pelvis slightly, just about 1 inch off the floor.  This is not a bridge, you are just tilting your pelvis towards your chin as you exhale and contract your abdominal muscles.  Start with 20 reps, increase the number of reps as it starts getting easier


Lateral leg lift

Starting position
Start by standing on your knees hip width apart.

Leg lift
As you inhale lean towards the right until your hand touches the floor.  Then lift the left leg up as you exhale and concentrate on drawing the belly button towards your spine. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.  Lift you hand out for added balance challenge.

You can also place a hand on your abdomen to feel the movement of your belly muscles.  Sometimes that helps you engage the proper muscles.



Elastic band squeeze

Starting position
Start by standing on your knees at hip width apart. Hold the elastic band (or the leg of stretchy tights)  with arms straight shoulder width apart at about shoulder height.


Stretch your arms out to your side holding them straight as you exhale drawing your belly button in towards your spine.  As you inhale, return arms to the initial position in front of you. Repeat this 10 times. 



Side dip and raise

Starting position
You can get on this position from standing on your knees and leaning towards one side and using your arm to support you (kinda like the lateral leg raise above).  Your hips should be raised at a neutral position (that is, your torso forms a straight line with your legs) with your support leg bent and the top leg straight.  Think of a side plank but one leg folded to support you.


 Lower your hips towards the mat (floor) as you inhale. The side of your leg will touch the floor, but not your hip. 


Then raise your hips as you exhale concentrating on squeezing your side that is facing the floor.  Think of an exaggerated movement here.  Really lift those hips up. Repeat 10 times. The top hand can be placed on the belly for feedback or it can be extended straight up as if reaching for the sky.


These are simple moves for you to start correcting the muscles weakness.  You can do these exercises as kids play in the same room or watching TV.  They are easy to do and don't require much as you use mostly your body for resistance (except the one with the band).

Some general rules to keep in mind.  Breathing is important to help you with the movement.  You will squeeze the muscle on an exhale (you are aiding the air out with your muscles) and you relax on an inhale (your belly expands as it if you were feeling it with air).


As you make progress on strengthening your abs, you will notice these start getting easier.  Then it is time to add more moves and increase the level of difficulty.