8 BEST Diastasis Recti Exercises (10 Minute Abs After Baby)

Rebuild core strength and repair Diastasis Recti (DR) with these 8 Diastasis Recti exercises. This 10 minute postnatal ab workout is designed to help you rebuild your abs after baby by specifically targeting the transverse abdominals and pelvic floor muscles (both of which are weakened during pregnancy).

My 30 Minute Advanced Pregnancy Workout is my most popular workout video on YouTube (and how you might have discovered NML).

You might have even followed my Pregnancy Workout Plan.

But how do you get safely get back into exercise after having a baby? 

I remember being so over AND underwhelmed with the amount of information available around how to care for my body after baby.

If you’re pregnant, bookmark this page to come back to postnatal.

And if you’re post-pregnancy (whether 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years or more) — keep on reading, this 10 minute abs after baby workout for you!

abs after baby exercises for Diastasis Recti

When can I start working out after baby? Or how soon after giving birth can I exercise?

Every body, every pregnancy, and every birth is so different. It’s hard to give a black-and-white rule about when it’s safe to return to exercise postpartum.

If you had an uncomplicated pregnancy and vaginal delivery, it’s generally safe to begin exercising a few weeks after giving birth or as soon as you feel ready. If you had a C-section, extensive vaginal repair or a complicated birth, talk to your health care provider about when to start an exercise program (MayoClinic).

I personally started using these 8 Diastasis Recti exercises around two weeks post-baby.

I started with the first four exercises for diastasis recti repair. I progressed up to all eight post-baby ab exercises around 6-8 weeks postpartum.

Diastasis recti exercises: Leg Extension for abs after baby

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis Recti is the separation of the right and left ab muscles at the midline of the abdomen. If the ab separation becomes greater than 2 cm, then you have DR.

DR is also commonly referred to as the ‘mom pooch’ or ‘lower belly pooch.’ 

In my case, and in the case of most women who develop DR, this happens when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy. According to this study on Diastasis Recti up to 66% of pregnant women will experience DR by their third trimester.

This happens when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy. The growth of the belly stretches the linea alba (you can see what abdominal separation looks like after pregnancy in this diagram from Mayo Clinic).

If you’re wondering…

How do I know if I have Diastasis Recti?

Learn how to check for Diastasis Recti at home here. I filmed this video with my pelvic floor physical therapist (Dr. Jenn).

Diastasis Recti Workout

Sympoms of diastasis recti include:

  • Low back pain
  • Urinary or bowel problems
  • Poor posture
  • Difficulty performing load transfer tasks necessary for bending, reaching, lifting, carrying, squatting, walking, and stair climbing (all the activities that new moms quickly become experts in)

Sometimes, Diastasis Recti will heal itself, but other times it may require physical therapy (I suggest seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist).

I also highly recommend check out this interview I did with Dr. Jenn: 10 Things You Need to Know About Your Pelvic Floor After Baby

8 Diastasis Recti Exercises Post Baby Ab Workout

10 Minute Abs After Baby

This postnatal ab workout is specifically designed to heal Diastasis Recti, strengthen your core and pelvic floor, and rebuild deep core muscles after pregnancy.

Let’s be honest, Diastasis Recti workouts aren’t very exciting.

That’s why I created a guided, follow along workout video for this post-baby ab workout. I’ll coach you through each exercises, offering form cues and modifications for everyone depending where you are in your Diastasis Recti repair journey.

This workout specifically targets the deep transverse abdominals and pelvic floor muscles (both of which are weakened during pregnancy) to rebuild your core!

Workout Equipment:

No equipment needed, just your bodyweight.

Workout Instructions:

Let me be your certified personal trainer for the day! Click here to follow along with the guided workout video at the top of this post.

Alternatively, work through the 8 best diastasis recti core exercises below at your own pace:

  • 8 Ab Exercises
  • 30 Seconds Per Exercise
  • Repeat x2 Sets
  • *Note: 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. Then slowly add on exercise 4, then 5, and progress your way up to completing all eight exercises. You can always work up to performing these exercises for 45-60 seconds.

8 Best Diastasis Recti Exercises

  1. Transverse Abdominal Breathing (TVA breathing) + Core Connection
  2. Lying Heel Tap + Leg Lift
  3. Lying Bent Knee Pulls
  4. Elevated Bent Knee March
  5. Elevated Leg Extension + Leg Drop
  6. Elevated Leg Extension + 2 Circles
  7. Elevated Bent Knee V-Taps
  8. Elevated First Position Kick Outs

1. Transverse Abdominal Breathing + Core Connection

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 an mobility of your lower spine.

Transverse abdominal breathing is hands down the number one core strengthening exercise I recommend to ALL women (pregnant or postpartum). It’s how you learn to posteriorly tilt your pelvis, which is important for ALL of the following exercises. 

TA breathing is difficult to explain in text or still images, so I recommend you watch the video at the top of this page (from 01:45 to 2:55) for a full demonstration of TA breathing.

Transverse Abdominal Breathing

  1. You want this entire movement to come just from your belly.
  2. Hold the inhale for 1 second, and then slowly begin to exhale.
  3. Exhale, as much as you possibly can over 5 seconds, while pulling your belly button down towards the mat. Focus on squeezing your TVA muscles, posteriorly tilting your pelvis, in the exhaled position.

2. Lying Heel Tap + Leg Lift

Targets: transverse abdomen, lower abs and hips.

Lying Heel Taps for Diastasis Recti Repair

  1. With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core, tap or slide one heel away from your body.
  2. Then, trying to keep your extended leg as straight as possible, raise your leg off the ground to return to the starting position.

To modify, take out the leg raise and only perform the heel taps.

3. Lying Bent Knee Pulls

Targets: transverse abdomen, lower abs and hips.

Lying Bent Knee Pulls for healing Diastasis Recti

  1. With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core, alternate pulling one knee towards your chest.
  2. Hold knee to chest for a 2-3 count and switch legs.

To modify, keep your extended leg on the mat.

4. Elevated Bent Knee March

Targets: transverse abdomen, lower abs and hips.

Elevated Bent Knee March for abs after baby

  1. With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core, bring your legs to a 90 degree bend.
  2. Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this ab exercise will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this Diastasis Recti exercise will be.
  3. Alternate tapping one toe towards the ground, return to starting position, and tap the other toe towards the ground. This movement is slow and controlled.

To modify, keep both toes on the ground and alternate lifting one knee towards your chest and switch.

5. Elevated Leg Extension + Leg Drop

Targets: transverse abdomen, upper abs, lower abs and hips.

Elevated Leg Extension exercises for Diastasis Recti

  1. With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core, bring your legs to a 90 degree bend.
  2. Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this ab exercise will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this Diastasis Recti exercise will be.
  3. Alternate extending one leg straight out, then slowly lowering the extended leg towards the ground.
  4. Return to starting position, and repeat on the other side. This movement is slow and controlled.

To modify, take out the leg lower and only perform the leg extensions.

6. Elevated Leg Extension + 2 Circles

Targets: transverse abdomen, upper abs, lower abs and hips.

Elevated Leg Extension abs after baby workout

  1. With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core, bring your legs to a 90 degree bend.
  2. Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this ab exercise will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this Diastasis Recti exercise will be.
  3. Alternate extending one leg straight out, then slowly draw two donut-sided circles with the big toe of your extended leg.
  4. Return to the starting position, and repeat on the other side. This movement is slow and controlled.

To modify, perform one circle or take out the circles and only perform the leg extensions.

7. Elevated Bent Knee V-Taps (2 count on the way down and up)

Targets: transverse abdomen, upper abs, lower abs, hips, adductors and pelvic floor.

Elevated Bent Knee V-Taps exercises safe for Diastasis Recti

  1. With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core, bring your legs to a 90 degree bend.
  2. Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this ab exercise will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this Diastasis Recti exercise will be.
  3. Maintaining the 90 degree bend in your legs; open both legs, lowering your toes towards the outside of your mat on a 2-count.
  4. Tap your toes on the outsides of your mat, then return to the starting position on a 2-count, squeezing your knees and inner thighs to touch as you return. This movement is slow and controlled.

To modify, drop only one leg to the outside of the mat and return to the starting position, then dropping the other leg. Alternating legs versus dropping both legs at the same time.

8. Elevated First Position Kick Outs (2 count on the kick out and return)

Targets: transverse abdomen, upper abs, lower abs, hips, adductors and pelvic floor.

Elevated First Position Kick Outs exercises for Diastasis recti

  1. With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core, bring your legs to a 90 degree bend.
  2. Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this ab exercise will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this Diastasis Recti exercise will be.
  3. Bring your feet to ‘first position’, heels touching and toes out making a ‘V’ with your feet.
  4. Then slowly kick both heels out, away from your body on a 2-count; squeezing your inner thighs to touch as you reach full extension.
  5. Note, extending your legs more upward, toward the ceiling will make this ab exercise easier. And extending your legs straight out, pr closer toward the ground will make this ab exercise more challenging.
  6. Then return to the starting position on a 2-count, pulling your knees back towards your chest at a 90 degree bend. This movement is slow and controlled.

To modify, kick out only one leg, return to the starting position, then kick out the other leg. Alternating legs versus kicking out both legs at the same time.

More Exercises for Diastasis Recti Repair

Once you’ve mastered this 10 minute abs after baby workout, you can advance to these postpartum-friendly ab workouts:

  1. 10 Minute Lower Ab Workout 
  2. 10 Minute Beginner Ab Workout

You might also like my FREE, 30 Day Postpartum Workout Plan — an at home postnatal workout program.

Free Postpartum Workout Plan

Pin these Diastasis Recti Exercises

10 Minute Abs After Baby

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

7 comments
    • Hi Emily! Great question, I have to say check with your doctor/midwife on this one as I’m not qualified to give advice. I personally started transverse abdominal breathing around 2-3 weeks PP, and started with the first three exercises outlined here around 4 weeks PP and progressed up to all seven exercises around 12 weeks PP. I hope that helps. Thank you! -Lindsey

  1. Hi Lindsey—I am a pelvic PT working in the Twin Cities. I have been following you on IG and your blog for some time and love it. I am so happy to see the addition of diastisis Recti and pelvic floor recovery exercise. I would love to connect with you as I am trying to find a resource to refer my patients once they “graduate” from my program.

    • Hi Charet! Thanks so much for this message + reaching out on IG! I’m so glad we were able to connect on IG and I look forward to chatting more soon! Thank you! Lindsey

  2. I am glad for this post and to hear your recommendations! I am a personal trainer and work with postpartum women. Much of the information out there is not helpful but your moves are great. Just remember the breathing techniques to go along with them to decrease pressure on the pelvic floor and the abdominal wall. And if anyone is ever concerned about diastasis recti or pelvic organ prolapse to see a PT specializing in pelvic floor work. Thanks for all you do and your awesome workouts!

    • Hi Tracy!
      Thanks so much for checking out this post! And yes, I feel like I put the cart before the horse a bit with the breathing, but I did a whole series on my IG stories today on TVA breathing to accompany these exercises! It’s all so important as it all works together! Thanks so much for checking out this post! -Lindsey