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5 Postnatal Exercises To Get Your Body Back In Shape

You've been stretched from the inside out and your former six-pack is a distant memory. Your cute pregnancy bump has gone down in size, but it's still hanging on. Your greatest fear is that someone will think you're still pregnant. It's time to get your body back with these postnatal exercises--are you ready?

If your answer is yes, these five postnatal Pilates moves from FitBump fitness expert Denise Posnak will have you back in those skinny jeans quicker than you can imagine! Tie these moves together to create a 10-minute series that you can pop into your day. The surest way to progress is to start somewhere, and keep it up. Make it simple and get your body back. More importantly, these moves will give you the strength and energy to gracefully take on the challenges of new motherhood.

Before you begin:
Notice the step that repeats in every exercise:
"Engage your core by pulling your naval to your spine, zipping up your lower abs and cinching the sides of the waist together." This is your primary goal. If you can't keep this form, pause and start again. You will get the quickest results if you follow this rule.

The Knee Squeeze
-Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
-Put a small pillow or small bouncy ball (cantaloupe size) between your knees.
-Engage your core by pulling your navel to your spine, zipping up your lower abs and cinching the sides of the waist together.
-Squeeze the pillow/ball while engaging the waistline and hold for 5 seconds.
-Repeat 8-
10 times.
Variations:
1) Repeat with your head up in a ½ crunch position (upper abs engaged).
2) Repeat with the feet off the floor and the knees in a tabletop position (head up or down).

The Criss Cross
-Lie on your back and place your hands underneath your head.
-Engage your core by pulling your navel to your spine, zipping up your lower abs and cinching the sides of the waist together.
-Bring your knees into your chest and your head off the ground, keeping your waistline in.
-Twist your right elbow to your left knee and straighten the right leg out to a 45-degree angle.
-Switch to the other side making sure to keep your waistline engaged.
-Repeat slowly 3-5 times.
-Rest for 30 seconds and then repeat at a quicker pace 10 times.

Double Straight Leg Stretch
-Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor.
-Place your hands under your pelvis, palms down, supporting your sacrum.
-Lift your legs up towards the ceiling, keeping them slightly bent and glued together.
-Engage your core by pulling your navel to your spine, zipping up your lower abs and cinching the sides of the waist together.
-Keeping the navel in, lower your legs 2 inches towards the floor without dropping them completely.
-Repeat 8 times.
Variation: Place your hands under your head and lift the head up to engage the upper abdominals.
-Repeat 8 times.

The Pilates Plank
-Start on hands and knees and make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders.
-Keeping your hands in place, extend your legs back (one at a time) so that you are in a push-up position.
-Engage your core by pulling your navel to your spine, zipping up your lower abs and cinching the sides of the waist together.
-Hold the plank for 5 counts, keeping the navel lifted away from your shirt.
-Rest and repeat up to 5 times.
Variation: Add in a small (1-2 inch) push up between every plank.

Rock Your Baby Pilates Style
Can't find any baby-free time? Try this double-duty move for some core work while you rock your little one to sleep!
-Standing with your baby, engage your core by pulling your navel to your spine, zipping up your lower abs and cinching the sides of the waist together.
-Stretch up through your spine and stand tall.
-Using your core and standing tall, rock your little one back and forth
-Put on your favorite tune and rock your baby Pilates Style for the whole song!

**As with all forms of exercise, consult with your doctor before performing these moves.

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