3 TummySafe Gym Routines for Diastasis Recti

3 TummySafe Gym Routines for Diastasis Recti - Fit2B.com - Every personal trainer, & gym junkie has an opinion about what works best for the core. This article provides three pinnable & printable workouts you can take to the gym as you attempt to navigate the jungle - #coreworkout #healthylife #fitnessmotivation #healthy #goals #goalsetting #fit #fitmom #health #walking #coreworkouts #core #corestrengthening #fitness #diastasisrecti #diastasis #motivation #weightloss #workout #clicktolearn #clicktoread #gymrat

Every personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and gym junkie has an opinion about what works best for the core: crunches, cardio, CrossFit, Pilates, Kegels, Yoga ā€” or no crunches, no carbs, no Kegels, no CrossFit … and the debate rages on and on. This article provides three pinnable and printable workouts you can take to the gym as you attempt to navigate the jungle of online advice-givers proposing to solve your six-pack problems. 

Here on Fit2B, we provide workout videos for those dealing with diastasis recti who want to return to weightlifting, cardio training, pilates, Yoga, and everything! 

We have three printable workout routines for your core, upper body, and legs below! 

But first, I’d like you to consider two sets of questions:

  1. Does the person you are trusting to safely reshape your body have specialized training or a degree in physiology, kinesiology, or exercise science? Look up their references and determine if they understand how to train people in your stage of life, or did they just get their certification online or in a weekend workshop? What qualifies them to train you? You can read my bio and see my curiculum vitae here
  2. What does your belly do when you exercise your abs? If your core responds well to workouts, that’s great! If it sticks out like something in the Alien movie series, or if you could swear it gets bigger not smaller the more crunches you do, well then, you’re in the right place, because Fit2B specializes in bellies that bulge when they should be getting firmer and flatter. 

Sadly, most “fitness bloggers” are unqualified ghost writers, and most personal trainers don’t know how to train postpartum women. If you have ever carried a baby inside your body, and you’re ready to return to fitness, you need bespoke workouts that address the changes your core went through! When diastasis recti is present, it’s crucial to adapt exercise programs. We cater to this here on Fit2B.

Hold on! What are my qualifications?

Before I give you another piece of what I have learned about THE CORE and how I learned it, allow me to walk my talk by telling you why you can trust the quality here on Fit2B:

  • It’s not because I graduated with honors from Oregon State University in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science, specializing in fitness program management.
  • It’s not because I have been teaching group fitness classes for almost 20 years. It’s not because I have worked in every position within athletic clubs for over half of my life, including management, personal training, class instruction, sales, marketing, front desk, custodial/cleaning, and childcare!
  • It’s also NOT because I have also completed several certifications and re-certifications involving umpteen workshops, trainings, lectures, etc.

Nope. None. Of. That. Even though it looks good on paper and separates me from other self-proclaimed experts.

You can trust how I teach because I STOPPED letting the fitness industry tell me how to make people so sore they couldn’t walk, and I DECIDED that a healed functional core has to come before a chiseled bikini body.

You can trust me because I no longer adhere to the notion that your abs must be ripped apart to flatten them. You can trust me because I started listening to the restorative and therapeutic industry about how to bring abs back together. How to help people move without pain. How to present fitness in a gentle, effective way that doesn’t promote injury, inflammation, and stress. 

In my own pursuit of knowledge, which is driven by the desire to further my own wellness and that of my clients, I have taken additional workshops and attended more lectures that pertain to my desired areas of expertise: pregnancy, birth, and fitness. Mostly, you can trust me because I promise to never stop learning and passing that knowledge onto you.

Okay, now to the exercises!

The following 3 free downloads offer gym routines that are safer for those with diastasis recti because of the gravitational angles, points of stress, and body mechanics. However, you also need to know how to properly engage your core during the work. Each of these moves has potential to work the entire core without creating too much intra abdominal pressure (IAP).

TummySafe Core Workout:

TummySafe Core Workout - Fit2B Studio

TummySafe Leg Workout:

TummySafe Leg Workout - Fit2B Studio

TummySafe Upper Body Workout:

TummySafe Upper Body Workout - Fit2B Studio

Free training tips: The incline bench at a gym is a wonderful tool for supporting your torso in a position that is more upright and easier to transition out of for sensitive tummies. Modified pull-ups build strength in the upper back, neck, and shoulders, while progressing you toward full chin-ups. Pair the top two exercises together, going back and forth with those sets. Then do the second row’s sets together, so the back rests while the chest works. Then do the 3rd row. Take water breaks as needed and don’t forget to stretch!

Most importantly, always stay in your comfortable range of motion. Practice the exercises without weight at first, and pay attention to how your belly acts:

  • Do your abs dome, tent, or bulge?
  • Do you find yourself holding your breath or gritting your teeth?
  • Do your abs move outward when you’re working hard?
  • Does your crotch area feel like it’s bulging while you’re working? 

A few facts: Burpees, sit-ups, and planks are the WORST thing you can do with poor form if you have diastasis recti. Also, you need to know that this isn’t just about women. Men and children can get DR because it is not caused by pregnancy ā€” it’s caused by pressure. (Read more on that here.) 

My Personal Experience …

When I first launched Fit2B, I thought I knew how to help a woman get her body back after having a baby because I got my body back after having my first baby … Then I had my second baby, and my body didn’t bounce back from birth quite as fast.

My girlfriends and I compared notes, and we were all reporting the same issues of distended tummies, leaky bladders, lower back pain, low energy AND THAT CONFUSED ME because I had been SO strong during my pregnancies. I had exercised, worked my core, eaten my greens, and done some kegels.

Why were we all peeing our pants, begging our kids to not make us carry them, feeling like wobbly noodles, and dealing with those poochy tummies that refused to totally go away?

I knew it had to be related to some type of core dysfunction, but little attention had been given to female core issues during my college education or certifications other than a basic definition of diastasis and how it was normal. I had also been told merely to “avoid crunches during pregnancy, and splint the abs with your hands while doing crunches afterward.”

Serendipity: Right after launching this website you’re reading (that now has members in 40 countries worldwide!), I was serendipitously and divinely connected with Kelly Dean, licensed neuromuscular physical therapist and founder of The Tummy Team (please, pretty please, go check out her site ā€” click here! ā€” and take one of her stellar courses. I’ve done all of them, and every trainer should).

Fit2B has helped thousands return to full fitness safely. Many of our members don’t have access to gyms, but those who do LOVE the confidence we give them to utilize their local facility with good alignment, breathing techniques, and movement mechanics. 

3 TummySafe Gym Routines for Diastasis Recti - Fit2B.com - Every personal trainer, & gym junkie has an opinion about what works best for the core. This article provides three pinnable & printable workouts you can take to the gym as you attempt to navigate the jungle - #coreworkout #healthylife #fitnessmotivation #healthy #goals #goalsetting #fit #fitmom #health #walking #coreworkouts #core #corestrengthening #fitness #diastasisrecti #diastasis #motivation #weightloss #workout #clicktolearn #clicktoread #gymrat

Here at Fit2B, we don’t just help you move. We want you to understand WHY and HOW to move your body safely and effectively to get the results you really want. So we educate you here on our blog, in the lessons within our elearning courses, and in our family-friendly workout videos.

Some people want a bikini body or to be able to squat 2 barrels at the gym. Most people, though, just want to be strong contributors within their family and communities who are “fit to be” chasing after their children and their dreams. They want to be able to run that 5k without wetting themselves. They want people to stop asking if they’re pregnant when they’re not. They want to be able to chop wood, make love, ride their bike, go for a jog, do dishes for an hour, preserve peaches for 3 hours, and carry their sick kids up the stairs without fear of pain or re-injury to their core. 

33 thoughts on “3 TummySafe Gym Routines for Diastasis Recti

  1. Mary says:

    What about exercises where you lay on you back and lift and move your legs like scissors and other back moves that are not crunches? Is there a way we can tell what it feels like if we are doing something wrong?

    • Beth Learn says:

      @Mary – Sorry I originally sent you the comment I meant for @Betsy sorry about that šŸ˜‰ I teach quite a few “legs only” moves you can do whilst laying on your back in several different Fit2B workouts. However, it’s never so much about the motion you’re doing as how you breathe and align while doing it. Our gold standard phrase is “If it’s not in, it’s out!!!” If you can’t exhale and pull your navel inward while doing a movement, then the exercise is out. If your abs want to bulge outward, that means your TA isn’t flexing quite right and maintaining good inta-abdominal pressure IAP, and that pressure is hitting your sensitive linea alba. This doesn’t mean “don’t do” the exercise. It does mean that you need to back up a level and figure out how to recruit your core correctly at a lower intensity and then reapproach the movement. Does that make sense? I teach all of this in our videos in a progressive manner. I hope you give them a try if you haven’t already šŸ˜€

  2. Betsy says:

    Do you have a list of NON tummy-safe exercises? See the call out on planks, burpees, and sit ups but would love to see a more comprehensive list.

    • Beth Learn says:

      @Betsy – In all the years I’ve been putting out info about DR its been crucial to me to avoid saying “don’t do this and that” and instead focusing on what people CAN do while they’re narrowing their gaps. Many programs out there leave people frightened to move at all, and really there is so much they can and should still do, and I keep putting out workouts that are DR-aware and “tummysafe” to prove it. Truly, the biggest things are avoiding full prone planks where the belly is hanging unsupported by a weakened core, burpees which are jumping planks/pushups and so scary to a traumatized core and pelvic floor, and crunches and crunch-like moves that flex that spine and take people out of natural alignment. We want people – and especially trainers – to remember that “Form Follows Function” so if you train all crunchy and flexed over, that’s how you’re modeling your body! In Fit2B we train “Long, Lean, Lifted” and we focus on breathing and alignment through all ranges of motion. It’s my dream to put out an accredited course for trainers. Next year… šŸ˜‰

  3. amanda Soderman says:

    Ugh! I’m happy to have read this…sort of… I have been exercising for years — while pregnant and after. It been 4.5 years since I had my 2nd child. I have exercised fairly regularly the whole time. I even did a stint of Physical Therapy to help repair my Belly Gap. I did the exercises (that I helped her develop, because she had little experience in diastasis) for months and got discouraged….I think for lack of quick results! I now do harder workouts with taking only a few precautions for my belly. when my belly makes an obvious protrusion I let up on that exercise. But I am a fit women and I have a pooch that does not fit my physic. I have been, honestly unwilling to drop done the level of my workouts in order to properly repair my gap. Which is significant for a short torso, I might add. ( I do have an umbilical hernia which is not repairable by exercises Right?) It seems I may need to address this more seriously and take a long break form my normal workouts to repair my broken core. Or is there a way I can still keep the intensity of my workouts that I enjoy while being more conscious of my TA and my belly. I have even seen Dr. for food allergies thinking the bugling belly is bloating from foods or excessive belly fat …fat that I only seem to have in excess in my pooch. I am skeptical…..surgery seems to be the way to fix it, but it wont repair it, I do understand that. What kind of encouragement do you have for or can you set me straight on this? Don’t want to wear a bikini I just want to wear a dress again with getting ?ing looks.

    • Beth Learn says:

      @amanda Soderman – Many are strong yet still have core fascia weakness. In fact, I feel like I’m reading the start of my own journey when I read your comment. There is hope. When “the moves” don’t work right away, and we get restless as athletes, we tend to just push forward, onward, upward… tuning out the things that are wrong and just focusing on what’s working right because it feels like we won’t get anywhere if we don’t get back some momentum somewhere. Right? I know you know what I mean šŸ˜‰ Your issue isn’t with strength or stamina, and you can keep going with a broken core, but you know it doesn’t feel right, and you know surgery isn’t the right answer either. Sometimes it is, but you aren’t in a desperate place, you’re just in a place of realizing you might need to slow down again for a while. And that’s okay: Seasons. Phases. Active Rest. It’s part of training. To get even stronger, sometimes you have to back off for a while. I strongly recommend you do The Tummy Team’s online core rehab; She’s a neuromuscular PT who specializes in this and her work is unlike any other I’ve seen. After that I recommend you reintroduce fitness via Fit2B and learn how I integrate the TA into more and more intense moves. After you’ve gone through all my routines at least once, you’ll get it. You’ll have the missing pieces. We could also collaborate on a private consult. Like you said, it’s not about the bikini; you want people to see your strength, though šŸ˜‰ Rest assured, they do. Hang in there. Don’t give up and shove forward in frustration. Rather, dig in and trust your body’s signals. We’ll get you there.

  4. sherry barton says:

    I’m 74 years old and had 5 hernia surgeries in 5 years needless to say my stomach has a very large pouch I can hardly get clothes on. I am only slightly overweight and am diabetic. I have had 3 foot surgeries without success and a knee that Dr. says needs replacement. I do not want anymore surgery. Would your program help me.Also my daughter 46 is in the same shape.

  5. Lizzy says:

    Thanks so much for your website! I am 4.5 months pregnant and I have just been diagnosed with D.R. I do crossfit and I am afraid I did it to myself from working out too hard while pregnant. I know I can do these exercises after pregnancy to heal it, but what should I do as far as workouts for the remainder of my pregnancy? Can I continue to do crossfit? I don’t want it to get any worse. I am not sure what I can and cannot do, I appreciate any suggestions so much!

    • Beth Learn says:

      I hope it’s not to late for you to see this comment, Lizzy, but I somehow missed it when you first posted it several months ago! Terribly sorry, but crossfit is definitely not safe without major modifications. Some instructors do know how to modify and can do private sessions with you. DR can close a bit during pregnancy given your consistency with our routines and others like them. However, it will likely widen a bit during your 3rd trimister which is normal. You can resume the first videos of our F5 within 3 days after vaginal birth or 10 days after surgical birth. I also recommend you get a splint and use it right away after having your baby. Here’s info on that here > https://fit2b.us/splinting

  6. kathi Baillie says:

    I stumbled upon your website’ and joined b/c of a testimony I read on the THM website…
    My question is this: My youngest ‘homegrown baby’ is already 13yo!! Is there any hope for restoring my abs/DR? I am small framed-5’2″ and 125# but always have a bit of a pooch-I noticed it got worse during a time when I completed 10 Pure Barre workouts (likely due to all the planks and ab work…)
    My biggest baby was 9# 14 oz…still have a 2 to 3 finger gap…
    Joined 2 weeks ago and trying to do at least 1 -2 of the Foundational Five workouts a few times a week in addition to T Tapp 4 to 5x per week…these seem to work nicely together…would love your thoughts regarding whether or not my DR is ‘fixable’ at this point? have you ever had a client this far post partum?

    • Beth Learn says:

      It’s never too late, Kathi! I’ve witnessed and felt with my own hands how the DR of women in their 60s and 70s and 80s can narrow! Your body is designed to heal from this at any age! I’ve had many clients way beyond 13 years post partum! We consider 1 fingerwidth (fw) to be closed, so you’re really almost there. I must add that T Tapp does have different alignment than what I teach, and the ribs up & knees out can interfere with full closure since it can cause rib flaring and improper hip alignment which contribute to widening DR. Still, the self massage she teaches and the overall methodology does help many women.

      • kathi Baillie says:

        Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly!
        Grateful to know also there is still hope for improvement.
        I wondered about the alignment issue b/c as they seem to conflict with 5 Foundations.
        Truthfully, I love that I can feel energized and get a full body w/o in in just 15 min -so I will peruse your site’ to see what workouts might work to go along with the 5 Foundations.

        Thanks again!!!

  7. Alexis says:

    In the first printable where it shows the windshield wipers, isn’t that too much twisting for a recovering tummy? Kinda like a crunch? Thanks for your help!

    • Beth Learn says:

      Alexis, Ideally someone will be doing these after they have had a bit of rehab or Fit2B and connected to their core stabilizers and breath. Even if not, because the upper body stays put, and just just the hips move, the pull isn’t the same as it is if the hips stay put and the upper body moves due to the way that the obliques and transverse connect along the rib line. If we keep the upper part of the “fan” of muscle steady, xyphoid process down, and exhale through the whole twist, inhaling on the sides at the bottom while relaxing, there is minimal pressure to the core and minimal yanking on the tender fascia. The reality is that most of these moves aren’t basic beginner healing moves for diastasis. These are gym-level moves. They all require core integration. But they all allow the spine to be long, the pelvis neutral, the ribs in line with hips, all that, these moves shouldn’t re-open a DR that’s on its way to thickening and narrowing. The muscles and fascia need some stimulation like this to foster further healing.

  8. Janette says:

    I have 5 boys. I had twins on my 3rd pregnancy and they are 7 now. I’ve notice the bulge in my tummy since having twins but never new what it was. The youngest just turned 2 and I started working out 3 months ago. I lost my baby weight and have toned up but my tummy pooch seems to stay the same. So I started researching and discovered I had diastasis recti. Thank you so much for posting these excercises. Can I still do HIIT workouts? Running and jump rope? Are Cardio workouts safe?

    • Beth Learn says:

      Hi Janette, I’m so sorry for the delayed reply. We had an issue with our commenting system, and I’m just now seeing this! I hope you’ve found some answers to your questions! If not, let me know!

  9. Thomas Petrouski says:

    will these exercises also work for men? I have been doing what appears to be the wrong exercises for a long time, years and still have the beer belly! My abs are rock hard and my stomach still sticks out! I did the check and the split is 3 fingers wide! How long do you think it will take to heal? Thanks Tom

    • Beth Learn says:

      Hi Thomas, yes they will also work for me, but my cueing in our videos here on Fit2B is definitely geared toward women. Everyone heals at a different rate depending on many factors.

  10. Maria says:

    Thanks for this information. It is really frustrating. I am 30 and I am a happy mom of a 10 month old baby. I have been active all my life but I had a 10 pounds baby, being 5’4. With that said, I have an horrible protrusion which I really preferred not to see in the mirror. I do not know if I am depressed but this is not motivating me to continue exercising. I am going to start using this routine and later I want to start your program.

    Thanks,

    Maria

    • Beth Learn says:

      Maria, awesome! I hope you enjoy them. What we have here on Fit2B is different in terms of laying a foundation that would help these routines be even more effective for you. I also just released a weightlifting 101 routine that goes over the breathing and techniques in a way that is hard to relate in a blog like this. And Wts 201 releases next month! Let me know if you have any questions or need a skype to go over form or anything! -Beth

  11. Dharti Purani says:

    Hi Beth,

    I am a new mom (well six months postpartum) so I like to call myself a new mom. I had a C-section delivery and a complication of postpartum hemorrhage which was treated with bakri balloon treatment. So I would say quite a complicated delivery but all is well so I would like to start back into my workout routine.

    I have that mommy tummy and read some articles which led me to check myself for diastasis recti. I checked myself as per the instructions given on several online video and I have approximately 3-4 fingers gap. I read some articles to treat this condition and came across your website.

    I really like your articles and would like to start core rehab workouts to fix my diastasis recti. I would like your guidance on where to start. Which program would be best for me right now.

    Also, I want to start some basic aerobic exercise routine. Is it safe for me do it while I work on getting my core strength back?

    Thank you,
    Dharti

    • Beth Learn says:

      Hi Dharti, you can definitely do basic aerobic exercise while you work to reclaim your core. In fact, here at Fit2B , in addition to all our educational articles and resources, our main service is providing our members with a huge library of over 200 “tummysafe” workouts that include cardio, weights, pilates, yoga, aerobics, step aerobics, and more! If your DR is wide and dysfunctional, I strongly recommend the services of a women’s health PT in your area or thetummyteam.com for online rehab. If you feel ready for fitness, our workouts here on Fit2B will help you continue your journey without undoing any progress you’ve made. If you join, I’ll see you in the forums and our web app!

  12. Maya says:

    Hi there! I have a 3 finger gap and Iā€™m interested in buying a piece of cardio equipment for my house to couple with my core strengthening exercises. I used to love the rowing machine, but is this safe now that I have diastasis Recti? If not- do you recommend a different piece of cardio equipment?

    • Beth Learn says:

      Hi Maya, this is what Beth Jones who is a competitive rower, founder of MamaSport, and contributor to our Experts on Diastasis Recti ecourse has said about this:

      “Rowing can be done safely while you’re healing. The main things to focus on are 1) don’t lean back on the drive too much. You need to keep that core engagement, so if you lose that or see/feel any doming/pooching then it’s too far. You might feel a bit upright for awhile. Second, make sure to you are engaging your pelvic floor and core before the drive. I use the “blow before you go” technique myself. Finally, keep that pelvis untucked and your ribs dropped on the recovery. Let the erg pull you back to the drive position instead of sticking your chest out and using your legs to pull you up. I hope that helps a bit, but feel free to ask any other questions if you have them.”

  13. Oladapo says:

    Hi. I am 6 month postpartum, i had C-section. Lost all baby weight by 3months pp with exercise and good diet.
    2 months ago i just woke up with constipation and bloating, i still have till now.
    I just read DR could be the cause. I checked and i have 1.5 fingers space.
    My question- Does DR cause bloating?? I have used all cure but not better.
    What exercise and gym equipment can help me.
    Is a 1.5 finger gap alarming or ok??
    Thank u

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  16. Nelia says:

    HI Beth.
    I saw you website for the first time today. My daughter gained a lot of weight and when she went on a diet, the stretch marks still got more. Big, red marks on her tummy, upper arms and legs. Maybe she is also suffering from DR? Is the stretch marks part of DR? She is only 20 years old and quite depressive about this. Nevertheless, I am going to introduce her to Fit2B.
    Thank you for your knowledge about this.
    Regards

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