It is first important to work out why your tummy is protruding out. It can be one of the following 5 reasons or a combination.
Workout What Is Causing Yours?
1) Do You Have Excess Fat Deposits
In standing position try pinching your tummy between your fingers and thumb at the sides of your waist and then near the tummy button.
There can be stubborn fat deposits for any woman and these often increase with pregnancy. The only way to address fat deposits is by increasing your calories burned compared to calories taken in. Then your body will start using up the fat reserves as energy. To do this an increase in activity is recommended and then adjustments to your diet. Refer to the ‘Belly Flattening Nutrition Guide’ and ‘Get Back To Safe Exercise Guide’ sections of the Hub to learn strategies to work on this.
Increasing your daily steps is by far the easiest way for anybody and safe to do after having a baby. Use a smart watch that tracks your steps and aim for 5000 a day to start with gradually increasing to 12000 steps a day. You can easily break it up the steps into shorter walks like walking to meet a friend for a coffee or walking around the park and to work.
HOWEVER we do not recommend jogging or running until you have completed this program AND completed our ‘Return to Impact, HIIT & Running Program’ to gain a core strong enough and the flexibility, balance abilities and general body strength required to safely return.
Jogging or running is usually not recommended for new mums until about 12 weeks after giving birth. However everyone is individual with some able to start as early as 8 weeks and some needing to wait beyond 12 weeks.
Our Return to Impact, HIIT and Running Course will help you work out when YOU are ready.
2) Do You Have Excess Skin
Try pushing inwards with both hands from both sides and notice whether you have wrinkles in your skin. This is showing excess skin.
Skin is stretched to a large degree during pregnancy and depending on your age and being pregnant more than once the skin does not always spring back and tighten and may remain loose. Unfortunately once skin has been stretched past its ability to be able to spring back and tighten it will stay that way and unfortunately the only real solution to remove the excess loose skin is surgery with an Abdominoplasty also known as a ‘Tummy Tuck’.
3) Do You Suffer From Bloating?
Have you noticed that your tummy looks bigger at the end of the day compared to the beginning?
There are very few people that this is not the case to have a slightly more bloated tummy by the end of the day compared to the beginning. But if the bloating is significant it is worth looking into some dietary changes and omitting or reducing foods and drinks that cause bloating. See our ‘Belly Flattening Guide’ for advice on this.
There are also other reasons that can cause bloating such as types of bacteria present in the gut and colon. Seeking the help of a Nutritionist/Dietician can help with this. You can book an Online Consult with Our Dietician by clicking here.
4) Do You Have Weak Core Muscles?
Your deep core muscles are your Pelvic Floor, Deep Abs (Tranversus Abdominis) and Diaphram (breathing muscle). They are called deep as these muscles are not ones you can see but are deeper underneath the muscles you can see such as your rectus abdominis (6 pack muscles).
They are all linked and work together and create the ‘Powerhouse’ of your body supporting your body. Can you see from the video below that when you breathe out and engage your pelvic floor you can see your deep abs which are like a corset muscle tighten and flatten the tummy.
You may have had weakness in your core muscles before becoming pregnant. Many people do. But during pregnancy these muscles are put under extra stresses from the weight of the baby and uterus as well as the increases in intra-abdominal pressure that are created within you as a result.
Therefore it is recommended to do core muscle strengthening during pregnancy but also after pregnancy to help the muscles function better and support your body as well. These core muscles when they work also create tension in the connective tissues that surround the muscles creating a pulling in effect on your tummy stopping it protruding out.
In the next section the quiz and 2 simple tests will help determine how strong your core muscles are right now.
5) Are Your Rectus Abdominis (6 Pack) Muscles Still Stretched?
Below the picture shows your rectus abdominis (6 pack muscles) before becoming pregnant.
During pregnancy these muscles are stretched as your baby and uterus increase in size.
After pregnancy finishes they may still be stretched contributing to that protruding tummy look.
The only way to restore the correct length again to these muscles is with controlled small ab curls. Our Core Programs Workouts include Ab Curl Exercise variations which will help these muscles shorten again to their original pre pregnancy length.
6) Do You Have a Diastasis Recti?
Watch the video below to see the changes that happen in Pregnancy to your core and abdomen. All pregnant women by 3rd trimester will have some degree of Abdominal Separation (Diastasis Recti). About 60% will fully recover and have no abdominal separation by the 8 week point but about 40% will still have an abdominal separation and stretched and weaker linea alba connective tissue beyond the 8 weeks.
The separation can happen at different places with the most common being around your belly button area.
We do not advise testing for Diastasis Recti until the 8 week point as it will not give true results as your uterus will still be shrinking back to its normal size in this period.
Test To See If You Have A Diastasis Recti and If You Can Tension the Linea Alba Within the Gap
Try this simple test and note your findings. The test will determine whether you have a gap, how big it is and how stretched your linea alba is.
What people become obsessed about is ‘the GAP’ of Diastasis Recti. It is not the GAP itself which gives you a protruding tummy. See this lady below who has a gap but a washboard tummy.
It is in fact the lack of tension that the linea alba and core muscles can generate to keep your tummy pulled back when you do more higher intra-abdominal pressure activities such as Planks, Leg Ab Exercises, Lifting Heavier Weights, Coughing, Laughing, Sneezing.
Have you noticed that your tummy looks flat when you lie down but then when you stand up it sticks out?
This is because there is more intra-abdominal pressure inside of you when you stand up and your linea alba connective tissue and core muscles are not able to create enough tension naturally to pull it back. This is called a ‘Functional Diastasis Recti’ meaning that when you do certain things that increase pressure inside of you can not be controlled in any Functional Activities.
So what you need to is in addition to just feeling the gap width and tension in the linea alba in lying down is also test your ability of your connective tissues and core muscles to generate tension to keep things pulled back in exercises that increase the Intra-abdominal pressure. See next Section on ‘Tests for Core Strength’
These simple progress photos can really show you the difference and can be done just at the start and on completion of the program or can be done every couple of weeks.
Core Strength Tests
These 2 simple tests will check your Core Strength before completing the program and can be done again at the end to compare how you have progressed.