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5 Postpartum Recovery Ab Exercises (BEGINNER)

Rebuild core strength after pregnancy with this NO EQUIPMENT Beginner Postpartum Recovery Ab Workout! These ab exercises are designed to safely rebuild your abs after childbirth by targeting the transverse abdominals and pelvic floor muscles, which can be weakened during pregnancy.

Our diastasis recti repair workout is our most popular post on the blog (and has over a million views on YouTube!).

That content clearly resonates with many of you, and you filled my inbox and DMs with requests for more postpartum content when I returned from my maternity leave after having my third baby earlier this year.

So we teamed up with my pelvic floor physical therapist (Dr. Sari Abelson PT, DPT) to develop a series of workouts designed to support you along your postpartum recovery journey (and it’s more than just kegel exercises).

Today’s workout is the first in the series: a no equipment postpartum abs workout for beginners. This is one of the first workouts I did postpartum to start my core recovery process.

Whether you have a newborn or your “baby” is 16, these exercises are a solid foundation for core and pelvic floor strength.

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postpartum woman performing a beginner dead bug exercise to rebuild core strength

Postpartum Recovery FAQs

How Long Does Postpartum Recovery Usually Last?

The healing process depends on so many factors, like how active you were during pregnancy, your labor (cesarean section vs. vaginal delivery), perineal tearing, sleep, nutrition – it all plays a role! In general, the first six weeks after delivery are considered a recovery period. This is about the time that your vagina, perineum or C-section incision should be healed, and the uterus should be back to its normal size. Check with your OB-GYN or midwife about what is appropriate for you and your body.

How Soon After Birth Can I Start Doing These Postpartum Recovery Exercises?

Every postpartum recovery experience is different. I personally started doing these exercises around 2 weeks postpartum. Start where you are and do what you can! Maybe you start by performing the first three exercises for 20-30 seconds, rest and repeat. You can always work up to performing these exercises for 40 seconds.

How Do I Know When It’s Time To Progress To More Difficult Exercises?

Assessing for hard vs. soft doming during exercise is a good gauge to determine how your body is managing pressure. Soft doming is when you can press your tissue inward vs. hard doming is when the dome is firm. Hard doming usually signals your tissue is working to its max capacity. Aim for soft doming.

What Are The Benefits of Postpartum Exercise?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that postpartum exercise can strengthen abdominal muscles, boost energy, relieve stress, promote better sleep and may help prevent mood swings, postpartum depression and anxiety or the “baby blues”.

Who Should See A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist?

If it’s an option available to you, I recommend this to everyone who’s been through a pregnancy. I learned so much about my body from my sessions with Dr. Sari (Motion MN). Other reasons to see a pelvic floor PT include symptoms like bladder control/urinary incontinence or fecal incontinence, urinary or fecal urgency, heaviness/pressure, pain or fear with return to intercourse, constipation or issues with bowel movements, or just wanting guidance with return to exercise.

postpartum woman performing a modified low plank exercise as part of postpartum recovery workout

10-Minute BEGINNER Postpartum Recovery Abs

Rebuild your core with 5 BEGINNER postpartum recovery ab exercises – no equipment needed!

These beginner ab exercises are specifically designed to heal diastasis recti, strengthen the pelvic floor, and rebuild your abs after baby.

Add this core repair 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.

Workout Equipment:

No equipment needed, just your bodyweight.

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Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided BEGINNER Bodyweight Postpartum Recovery Ab Workout on YouTubeled by certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 5 Postpartum Recovery Ab Exercises 
  • 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. Transverse Abdominal Breathing (Core Breathing)
  2. Alternating Heel Slides and Leg Lift
  3. 90-Degree Heel Taps
  4. Dead Bug 
  5. Modified Plank

Prefer to Watch On YouTube?

youtube icon Postpartum Abs Beginner

5 Best Postpartum Recovery Exercises (Beginner)

Transverse Abdominal Breathing (Core Breathing)

Targets: The deep transverse abdominal muscles (TVA) and pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support your internal organs, your inter-abdominal pressure system, and provide stability and mobility of your lower spine.

postpartum woman wearing all black lying on yoga mat performing core breathing to strengthen abs postpartum

How To Do Transverse Abdominal Breathing (Core Breathing)

  1. First, activate your transverse abdominis muscles. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Find your hip bones and move your fingers one inch inwards.
  2. To find your transverse abdominis muscles, fake cough. The muscles you feel ‘pop’ when you cough are your transverse abdominis muscles.
  3. To engage them, take a deep breath and allow your core and pelvic floor to relax. Imagine there is a string between your hip bones and as you exhale that string (or your TA muscles) is pulling your hip bones together. 
  4. As you inhale, let the belly expand (let your back pop off the ground).
  5. As you exhale, pull the belly in tight and think about tucking the tailbone underneath you to press your back into the mat or wall.

Alternating Heel Slides and Leg Lift

Targets: Deep transverse abdominal muscles (TVA), lower abs and hips.

postpartum woman wearing all black lying on yoga mat performing alternating heel slides with a leg lift to strengthen postpartum abs

How To Do Alternating Heel Slides and Leg Lift

  1. Start lying on your back, knees bent and feet planted in front of your glutes. Inhale, letting your belly expand.
  2. Exhale, pulling your core together and pressing your low back firmly into the mat as you slide your right heel away from your body. Keep your left heel planted on the mat.
  3. Then, trying to keep your extended leg as straight as possible, raise your leg off the ground to lift it back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat, this time sliding your left heel away from your body and keeping your right heel planted.

Modification: Take out the leg raise and only perform the heel slides.

90-Degree Heel Taps

Targets: Deep transverse abdominal muscles (TVA), lower abs and hips.

woman working with pelvic floor physical therapist to perform heel taps

How To Do 90-Degree Heel Taps

  1. With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possible around your core, bring your legs to a 90-degree bend.
  2. Inhale as you lower your right heel to tap the mat, keeping bends in both knees.
  3. Exhale as you pull your right leg back to starting position. The movement is slow and controlled.
  4. Repeat with your left heel, tapping the mat and returning to starting position.

Modification: The closer your knees are to your chest, the easier this ab exercise will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the more intense this will be.

Dead Bug

Targets: Transverse abdomen (deep core muscles below your rectus abdomen or six pack ab muscles), lower abs and hip flexors.

How To Do A Dead Bug

  1. Start lying on your back, core activated to press your lower back into the mat.
  2. Lift your knees to form a 90 degree angle (knees stacked on top of hips), and extend your hands straight overhead.
  3. Contract your ab muscles as you extend your right arm overhead while simultaneously straightening your left leg. Return to the starting position.
  4. Then extend your left arm overhead while simultaneously straightening your right leg. Return to the starting position.

Modification: Reduce range of motion of your legs and arms to reduce the intensity of this exercise.

Modified Plank

Targets: Every muscle in your core; including: deep transverse abdomen muscles, rectus abdomens (six pack ab muscles), oblique muscles and shoulders.

woman performing a modified low plank exercise as part of postpartum abs recovery workout

How To Do A Modified Plank

  1. Find a modified plank position by placing both forearms on the mat, shoulders stacked over elbows, both knees on the mat and toes connected to the mat.
  2. Think about lifting your body up, as if there is a string connecting your belly button and your back and drawing your belly button up towards the ceiling. This draws the belly button in and activates the lower abs.

Modification: Take your plank up to a raised surface (chair, bench or countertop) to reduce the intensity.

Pin This Workout: Beginner Bodyweight Postpartum Exercises for New Moms

Pin for pinterest showing postpartum woman lying on her back and performing leg taps

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