Four Great Moves for a Flat Belly

Regaining your pre-pregnancy fitness is a gradual process that requires patience and consistency, and this is particularly true when it comes to working towards a flat stomach. The following progressive exercise program starts with a simple move and works up towards more strenuous exercises to get you back in shape. 

Once you've mastered the first move, add the next exercise until you've completed the entire series, and make sure you workout every other day for optimal results. It should take you an average of three months or longer to master all four moves, but be patient; the end result is well worth it. As with all exercise programs, check with your doctor before you start this routine. You will need an exercise ball for the first two workouts. 

Step 1 – Basic Ball Curl-Up

1. Sit on your exercise ball and walk your feet away from you to bring the ball directly under your torso. Keep you knees bent and your feet firmly and flatly planted on the floor.
2. Stretch out your arms as if you're reaching toward your knees and lift your head, neck and shoulders. Try to keep your navel pulled in toward your spine. 
3. Inhale and lift your right arm above your head while keeping it straight, then exhale and bring your right arm down to its original extended position while lifting your left arm above your head. 
4. Switch your arms in this manner 10 times then take a short break. Repeat the process for three more sets. 

Step 2 - Ball Bridge with Knee Lift

1. Lie down on your back and bring your feet to rest close together on the ball in front of you. Make sure your knees are bent.  
2. Pull your navel toward your spine and lift your hips so your body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the hips. 
3. While maintaining your hips' lifted position, bring your right knee towards your chest and hold for the count of three breaths. 
4. Lower your right knee until your foot is resting once again on the exercise ball, and pull up your left knee to repeat the process. Do this three times with each knee. 

Step 3 - Forearm Plank

1. Rest with forearms on the floor beneath you, making sure to keep your elbows aligned under your shoulders and your hands clasped in front of you. 
2. Keep your knees hip-width apart and positioned behind your hips, not directly under them. Contract your abs and hold that position for one minute. 
3. Raise the difficulty up a notch by extending both legs behind you so that your body forms a straight line from head to heels.  
4. Remain in that position for 10 seconds and work your way up to a full minute as your fitness improves.

Step 4 - Modified Hundreds

1. Lie down on your back and bend your knees above you so that the lower part of your legs is parallel to the floor. 
2. Keep your head and shoulders lifted above the floor and your arms stretched out 15cm above the ground with palms facing downward. 
3. Pull your navel towards your spine and hold as you move your arms up and down quickly for the count of five, making sure you maintain steady breathing. 
4. Repeat this exercise until you count 20, and try to work your way up to 100 counts as your stamina improves. For more of a challenge, extend both of your legs to a 45-degree angle instead of keeping them bent.