Photo by CoppieCat
Sean Gagnon, the VP of Ab Coaster, has been our guest guru for the past couple of weeks sharing his tips for toning your post-baby body and eating the right foods to help you lose the weight. Now, he's answered your questions.
"Is it more important to get rid of the flab first and then start trying to tone up? Or should I tackle both at once?" -dragonflylovr19
You can certainly do both at once. In fact this is your best approach. If I showed you a picture of someone described as "toned" how would they look? Generally lean with defined muscles. To be lean you have to get rid of the flab, but to show defined muscles there have to be some muscles to begin with! As you melt the fat away you will uncover your new, lean, defined muscles. The good news is that as you build some muscle with your resistance training you will burn fat more efficiently. Muscle is very "metabolically active." Simply put, muscle burns a lot of calories which will help you burn fat. The best approach is always a sound program of cardio, strength, flexibility and nutrition.
“Is there really any particular exercise that will tone up that "pooch" you can have left over from pregnancy? Even after things are where they were sometimes that's the most stubborn thing to lose!” -mmmommy0207
Ahhh - the pooch. Most women will tell you that after baby the upper part of the stomach returns much quicker than the lower. If you think about it, it makes sense. The lower portion of the abdominal muscles (there is no such thing as an upper or lower ab, it is one long muscle) takes the brunt of the pregnancy. As the fetus grows and prepares for birth it drops. Therefore when the fetus is at its largest and heaviest it is also at its lowest putting most of the strain on the lower section of the abdominal wall. This area also stretches the most. Naturally this area will take a little longer to bounce back but the good news is that it can and will if you continue to burn the fat with cardio and strength training, eat a sensible diet, and train your core with the exercises I outlined. You may wish to spend a little more time on the "lower ab" exercises to put more emphasis here. Remember though, until you burn the fat off the area, your stomach won’t be as flat as you may like.
“What are the best exercises for the hip/love handle area?”
When asking about specific exercises for a body part it is important to understand two things: First it's important to understand what muscle you are talking about because if you understand what it does, you can figure out how to train it. Second, it is important to note that you can’t "spot reduce." I can provide you with an exercise to strengthen and tone the area, but without losing the fat in the area it probably won’t give you the results you like. If you could spot reduce, everyone who chewed gum would have a skinny face.
The love handles are really your oblique muscles. There are two sets of oblique muscles -- internal and external. The primary function of the external oblique muscles is to rotate the trunk opposite side. The internal oblique rotates the trunk to the same side. The Russian Twist exercise I mentioned is perfect for this as is the oblique setting on the Ab Coaster. Two to three sets, 12-15 reps, should have your obliques humming in no time!
As for the hips, you are basically referring to your butt -- back and side. Two of the best exercises are the squat and the lunge. Not only will they work the hips, but the entire lower body as well. Proper form on these exercises entails keeping a straight back and lowering your body until the upper thigh is parallel with the ground. Think of the lunge as a one legged squat. Perform two sets of squat and one set of lunges on each side. 12-15 reps, 2-3 times per week. Start with body weight only and add resistance as needed.
Thanks Sean! It seems like a lot of work and dedication is necessary to get your body back to its pre-baby shape. How long did it take you to lose the post pregnancy pounds?