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5 Pilates Ab Exercises for Diastasis Recti (ADVANCED)

Build deep core and pelvic floor strength with this advanced PILATES AB WORKOUT for diastasis recti. Add this to your workout routine to repair abdominal separation after pregnancy, strengthen the pelvic floor, and build strong abs. This postnatal pilates workout uses a sponge ball to target the deep core, but you can substitute a kids squishy ball or throw pillow if you don’t have one available.

Mastered our Beginner Postpartum Pilates Workout? Then it’s time to scale it up to this ADVANCED version!

We’ve teamed up with my pelvic floor physical therapist (Dr. Sari Abelson PT, DPT) to develop a series of diastasis recti workouts; mixing up the difficulty level, exercises and equipment used to keep things interesting.

Today’s exercise routine increases the intensity and adds in a pilates ball (or throw pillow). This is one of my favorite tools to help make the mind-muscle connection necessary to start repairing diastasis recti or for any beginners looking to build foundational core strength.

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woman holding a bear crawl as part of postpartum pilates ab workout

Pilates Ab Workout FAQs

What Is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti is common in women who have experienced pregnancy. Diastasis recti occurs when the rectus abdominis muscles (six-pack ab muscles) and linea alba (connective tissue) separate as your belly grows during pregnancy. This abdominal separation can range from mild to severe.

Is Pilates Good For Diastasis Recti?

Pilates workouts are particularly well-suited for diastasis recti because they are naturally low impact and focus on activating and strengthening all the muscles related to your core. This involves the transverse abdominis, pelvic floor muscles, hips and glutes. This routine is also great for reducing lower back pain and improving posture.

How Soon After Birth Can I Start Doing These Pilates Ab Exercises?

Every postpartum healing experience is different. Talk to your doctor or midwife for medical clearance before returning to exercise after giving birth, especially if you had any complications. I personally started doing the beginner versions of these exercises around 2 weeks postpartum and scaled up to the advanced version a few weeks later. Start where you are and do what you can!

woman performing a bear crawl hold as part of postpartum pilates ab workout

10-Minute ADVANCED Pilates Ab Workout for Diastasis Recti

Build strong abs with these 5 ADVANCED pilates exercises you can do at home to heal diastasis recti.

These pilates exercises are specifically designed to heal diastasis recti, strengthen the pelvic floor and glutes, and rebuild your abs after baby. That said, these are great pilates abs exercises for everyone!

Add this diastasis recti workout to your postpartum workout routine as you feel capable, starting with 1-2 times a week and scaling up to 3-4 times a week. I recommend alternating this workout with our advanced bodyweight diastasis recti workout video to avoid workout boredom.

Workout Equipment:

A pilates ball. You can also use a kids squishy ball or a throw pillow if you don’t have a pilates ball available.

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Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Advanced Postpartum Ab Exercises on YouTube, led by certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 5 Advanced Pilates Exercises for Diastasis Recti 
  • Timed Intervals (40 seconds of work, 20 seconds rest; complete as many reps as you can in the timed interval)
  • Repeat Each Exercise x2 (back to back — see if you can increase the intensity on the second set)

Workout Outline

  1. Bird Dog with Ball Push
  2. Bear Crawl Hold with Ball Squeeze
  3. Single Leg March and 90-Degree Isometric Hold
  4. Modified Side Plank Lift and Ball Squeeze
  5. High Plank with Ball Squeeze

Prefer to Watch On YouTube?

youtube icon Pilates Abs

5 Advanced Postpartum Pilates Exercises

Bird Dog with Ball Push

Targets: All of your core muscles, including: deep transverse abdomen muscles, rectus abdominis (six pack ab muscles), erector spinae (muscles along the back and spine), oblique muscles, hip abductors and quads.

Your abs are designed to stabilize your body as your arms and legs move away from your body. The bird dog is an excellent exercise in core control and focused breathing.

woman performing a bird dog with pilates ball arm push to engage core

How To Do Bird Dog with Ball Press

  1. Start in a table top position, quadruped on all fours, shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees. Place your left hand on a pilates ball.
  2. Exhale as you press your left hand into the ball and extend your right leg out behind you. Think about pulling your belly button in towards the spine as you squeeze your abs to stabilize your torso and keeping your pelvis even. Hold for a three-count.
  3. Inhale, releasing some of the pressure on the ball as you pull your leg back to center, returning to a quadruped position with control. Switch legs on the next set.

Bear Crawl Hold with Ball Squeeze

Targets: Deep transverse abdomen muscles, rectus abdominis (six-pack ab muscles), oblique muscles, shoulders, back, legs, glutes and quads.

postpartum woman performing a bear crawl hold with a pilates ball squeeze

How To Do A Bear Crawl Hold with Ball Squeeze

  1. Start in a table top position, quadruped on all fours, shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees, pelvis even. Place a pilates ball between your inner thighs.
  2. Inhale as you let your belly slightly drop, raising your gaze up as you breathe through into your belly.
  3. Exhale, drawing your belly button towards your spine as you tuck your toes under and lift your knees one inch off the mat, finding a bear crawl. Squeeze the ball between your inner thighs. Hold for a three-count.
  4. Inhale as you lower your knees to the mat, finding a neutral spine position.

Single Leg March and 90-Degree Isometric Hold

Targets: Deep transverse abdominal muscles (TVA), rectus abdominis muscle, lower abs, chest, shoulders and hips.

woman lying on her back performing heel taps as part of postpartum pilates ab workout

How To Do A Single Leg March and 90-Degree Isometric Hold

  1. Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressing firmly into the mat. Bring your legs up, knees bent at 90-degrees.
  2. Using both hands, hold a pilates ball against your left knee.
  3. Inhale, letting your belly expand and relaxing your arms.
  4. Exhale, pressing the ball into your right knee and tapping your left heel down to the mat.
  5. Inhale, returning to starting position and releasing pressure on the ball.

Modification: Reduce how hard you are pressing against the ball to reduce intensity.

Modified Side Plank Lift and Ball Squeeze

Targets: Obliques (muscles along the sides of your torso), lower abs, outer glutes (gluteus medius), and hip flexors.

woman performing a side plank hold as part of pilates ab workout

How To Do A Modified Side Plank Lift and Ball Squeeze

  1. Start in a modified side plank or knee down side plank on the left side. Left forearm on the mat, left shoulder stacked over left elbow and left knee on the ground. Place a ball between your knees.
  2. Engage your abs and obliques as you lift your hips off the mat and squeeze legs together to compress the ball.
  3. Hold at the top, thinking about pressing your bottom knee into the mat to engage your glutes.
  4. Then return to the starting position by lowering your hip back to the mat with control.

High Plank with Ball Squeeze

Targets: Upper abs, lower abs, obliques, transverse abs, shoulders and back.

woman performing a high plank and ball squeeze as part of pilates workout

How To Do A Full Plank with Ball Squeeze

  1. Find a high plank position, shoulders stacked over wrists, palms pressed firmly into the mat, shoulder blades pulled apart. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to heels, spine long, pelvis even. Place a pilates ball between your thighs.
  2. Pull up on your kneecaps and push back into your heels, core engaged. Squeeze the pilates ball between your thighs to increase intensity.

Modification: Add an incline to your plank to reduce the intensity.

Pin This Workout: Post Pregnancy Pilates for New Moms (Advanced)

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