Read the directions and watch the short video before attempting the SET.
1. Hammer Curls with Weights or Resistance Band (15 reps)
The hammer curl works the biceps, an oft needed muscle for all moms.
- Sit or stand with feet hip width apart, torso in neutral, head lifted, and knees slightly bent.
- Hold the end of a resistance band in each hand (or dumbbell). Step on the middle of the resistance band to keep it anchored. Position your hands so your palms face each other.
- Inhale and relax the pelvic floor and abdomen.
- Exhale, lift the pelvic floor, subtly brace the abdomen, and slowly raise the band or weights in a curl.
- Inhale and lower the band.
Do not let your body rock during this exercise. You want enough resistance to work the arms, but not so much that you recruit your lower body.
2. Diagonal Squat to Dynamic Triangle (10 reps/side)
This is an interesting lower body and abdominal exercise. Changing the position of the squat lets your pelvic floor react dynamically to realistic “mom moves,” and the triangle works the obliques.
- Stand with feet hip width apart, body in neutral (that’s a given, but sometimes it bears repeating).
- On the inhale, rotate your right leg and torso behind you, keeping your left leg pointing forward (although now it will be diagonal to your torso). Lift your arms overhead.
- Do a diagonal squat (exhaling on the exertion).
- Then, after standing up from the squat and remaining in the diagonal position, lower your left arm, push your right hip out, and dip your torso towards your left leg.
- Pull your torso back up with your obliques.
- Finally, return to starting and lower your arms.
- Repeat on the other side.
3. One Arm Incline Push-Ups (8 reps/arm)
A one arm push-up asks a lot of the abdominal muscles. This is why I don’t recommend doing this exercise on the floor, unless you have extremely strong chest, arm, AND abdominal muscles. Personally, I always need an incline.
- Face a wall or counter-top. Put one hand on the wall and the other hand behind your back.
- Perform a push-up, only going as far as you can maintain control. Keep your eyes looking forward.
- Try to keep your hips square.
- Remember to exhale as you push-up and inhale as you lower.
The exercise becomes harder the closer you move your feet together. Start with your feet wider than hip-width and gradually narrow the distance as you gain strength.
Don’t worry if the push-up movement feels small. Pay more attention to how much control you have over your core muscles and your arm.
4. Hippy Dippy Side Plank (10 reps/side)
Level 1: Both knees bent
Level 2: Bottom leg straight
Level 3: Both legs straight
If you suffer from diastasis recti or pelvic floor disorder, you might have heard advice against overworking the outer abdominals. Too much pressure on the pelvic floor is bad, but so is ignoring the obliques, especially the internal oblique, which often co-activates with the transverse abdominis. A dynamic side plank is a great way to work these oblique muscles. Pick the level that challenges without overloading your abdomen or pelvic floor.
- Balance on your side. Position your bent elbow underneath your shoulder. Aim for a straight line from your elbow to your knees (or feet).
- Slowly dip your hip. Inhale as you dip.
- Exhale as you lift the hip.
- Don’t tip backwards or forwards.
If you start holding your breath or lose the contraction, make the exercise easier by decreasing or removing the dip.
5. Up-Facing Plank and Reach (10 reps/side)
Level 1: Both hands on floor, no reach
Level 2: One hand in air and reach
This is a challenging exercise. Only add the reach if it doesn’t overstretch your abdominals. Some women worry any type of twisting exercise will “shear” their diastasis recti. I haven’t found this to be true, but I am careful not to overdo the twisting. If the twisting of Level 2 feels uncomfortable, or you are worried about your diastasis recti, do Level 1. You can make Level 1 harder by straightening both legs, which makes it similar to a Pilates style Leg Pull.
- Sit on the floor with your right leg straight and your left leg bent.
- Put both hands on the floor, with straight arms pushing into the floor behind you (although the picture shows fingers facing away in Level 1, you may be more comfortable with the fingers facing the opposite direction when doing that version – see video).
- Lift your butt off the floor into a table top.
- To add the reach, lift the left arm into the air and then reach the hand under your right ribs.
- Return the left hand to above your head.
- Do 10 reps, then switch sides.
- If doing Level 1, stay in the up-facing plank position and dip your butt toward the floor, then lift again.
Be very careful not to jut your chest forward or over-arch your lower back. Think about leading from your hips, not your chest. Also, picture stabilizing your scapulae. This will stop your shoulders from creeping toward your ears.
Watch the Video
That’s it for SET 6!