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HIIT Series: Tip 1: What nobody tells you about HIIT Workouts and DR

One of the most frustrating things about having Diastasis Recti and core weakness for the moms I coach is that they want to do the “hard stuff” again. They want to sweat and lift heavy and train hard. They want to continue running or doing their favorite HIIT workout, etc. But they don’t know what movements might make a diastasis or weak core worse. 

It’s easy to be afraid of intense exercise because

  1. postpartum fitness “experts” on the internet are telling you some exercises are just plain bad and you should never do them (ex – crunches).
  2. Your body hurts or your core feels weak, and you’re afraid you might do something that will make it worse.

The logical conclusion is… steer clear of the “bad exercises” and the hard workouts forever so your core doesn’t get worse.

If you know me at all or have been in my world for any length of time, you know that I couldn’t disagree more with this mentality.

Because, if you’re focused on “not making it worse”, then how will you ever get strong?

I’ll say it louder for those in the back: there is no bad exercise, and you need to do hard things.

There is however, a process of knowing and discerning what amount of load your body can handle right now as it’s healing.  And that’s the part that takes some investigating.

But, you’ve got to try those hard things to see if your core is ready and to help it get stronger!  And that can take time and patience and an expert eye to help you.  It can be frustrating for sure to know how your core is responding.

he good news is, it’s completely possible to do high intensity workouts in a way that doesn’t do damage to your core! Plus, it’s GOOD for your core to rev up the intensity! You just need to know how.

And that’s where I come in! I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to let my diastasis stop me from doing the hard fitness activities I love.  And you shouldn’t either.

So… I’m going to show you how.  I’ve got a few tips coming your way over the next week to show you exactly how you can create a HIIT workout that is DR friendly!  

Diastasis Recti, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and the path to reclaiming your strength – it’s a journey you can embark on without fear, as long as you’re equipped with the right knowledge.

Postpartum HIIT Workout:

For new mothers, the postpartum period brings unique challenges, and the desire to reclaim pre-baby fitness levels is quite strong. Postpartum HIIT workouts can serve as an excellent solution, given their efficiency in burning calories and improving cardiovascular fitness. However, they should be approached with care to ensure your body, especially your core, is ready.

Start by getting your healthcare provider’s clearance for high-intensity exercises. Once you have the green light, begin with light-intensity activities and gradually build up to higher-intensity exercises over several weeks.

Here’s an example of a postpartum HIIT workout:
5 minutes of light cardio (brisk walking, light cycling)

Squats: 15 repetitions
Elevated Push-ups up on a bench or chair: 10 repetitions
Lunges: 10 repetitions per leg
Side Plank (these are DR friendly): 30 seconds
Perform these exercises in a circuit, with 30 seconds rest in between each. Repeat the circuit 3-5 times, depending on your fitness level.

Remember, the focus should be on maintaining good form throughout, even if it means reducing the number of sets or repetitions.

Diastasis Recti HIIT Workout:

While Diastasis Recti (DR) presents its own set of challenges, it doesn’t mean that you can’t engage in high-intensity workouts. The key is to avoid exercises that put excessive pressure on your midline and instead focus on movements that help strengthen your transverse abdominis, the deepest layer of your abdominal muscles.

Consider the following DR-friendly HIIT workout:


5 minutes of light cardio (brisk walking, light cycling)


Seated Squeeze and Release (with a small ball or towel): 15 repetitions

Side-Lying Leg Lifts: 15 repetitions per leg

Glute Bridges: 20 repetitions 

Wall Push-ups: 15 repetitions

Perform these exercises in a circuit, with 30 seconds rest in between each. Repeat the circuit 3-5 times.

Understanding Diastasis Recti and HIIT:

Diastasis Recti is a condition where the left and right halves of your Rectus Abdominis (the “six-pack” muscle) separate, often due to the pressure from a growing uterus during pregnancy. This separation can weaken the core and affect your body’s overall stability.

When it comes to HIIT workouts, you need to be cautious because the intense nature of these exercises can exacerbate the separation if not done correctly. Exercises like traditional sit-ups, crunches, or anything that causes your abdominal wall to bulge outwards can further strain your muscles.

However, HIIT workouts can be adapted for those with DR. By focusing on exercises that strengthen the transverse abdominis and avoiding those that put excessive pressure on the midline, you can enjoy the benefits of HIIT while keeping your recovery on track. Remember, it’s not about avoiding exercise; it’s about choosing the right kind of exercise.

HIIT workouts can be effective tools in your journey back to strength, postpartum and even with a condition like Diastasis Recti. However, they should be approached with an understanding of your body’s current capabilities. Always consult a healthcare provider before beginning any new workout routine, and consider seeking guidance from a fitness professional experienced in postpartum and DR fitness.

Today’s Tip for HIIT: Ground your feet.

Sounds simple, I know, but try it!  Stand up and get ready to squat.  Get into a wide stance and then really press your feet into the ground, your heel and big toe.  Spread your toes, and press down hard and feel your muscles engage all the way up to your glutes!  Now, keep that intensity with your feet firmly pressing down and squat up and down, not letting go of the ground.  See how much more muscle activation you get? 

See the muscles in my legs turned on and working as I’m grounding my feet?

Now, do 40 squats, rest 30 second, do 40 more, then rest and 40 more (dumbbel optional).  Your legs will be burning.

Hope that was helpful!  I’ve got 2 more tips coming your way over the next week, so watch out for those!

If you’re looking for the best diastasis friendly HIIT workout on the planet, Check out Atomic Body.  Be prepared to lose 5-15lbs, get lean, and torch fat in only 4 weeks. 

FAQ Section:

Q: When can I start a HIIT workout after giving birth?
A: It’s typically recommended to wait at least six weeks after a vaginal birth and eight weeks after a cesarean section before beginning any high-intensity workouts, including HIIT. However, the exact time can vary based on individual recovery and your healthcare provider’s advice. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine postpartum. After coaching thousands of moms through postparutm and diastasis recovery, I’ve found it’s much better and safe and more effective for moms to begin easing back into workouts with a core rehab program like the Core Corrective, and then moving on to higher intensity workouts after you feel stronger in your core. 

Q: What are some safe HIIT exercises for postpartum women?
A: Safe HIIT exercises for postpartum women can include low-impact movements like squats, lunges, arm work, and side planks. Initially, avoid exercises that heavily strain the core, such as traditional planks, sit-ups or crunches.

Q: How often should I do HIIT workouts postpartum?
A: Starting slow is crucial. Begin with one to two HIIT sessions a week, allowing ample recovery time. As your strength and stamina improve, you may gradually increase to three to four times a week. Remember, it’s vital to listen to your body and not push too hard too quickly.

Q: What precautions should I take when doing HIIT workouts postpartum?
A: Ensure you’re medically cleared to start high-intensity workouts. Start slowly, prioritize proper form over intensity, and stay hydrated. Listen to your body – if something doesn’t feel right, stop the exercise. Also, consider seeking guidance from a fitness professional who has experience with postpartum training.

Q: Can I do HIIT workouts if I have Diastasis Recti?
A: Yes, you can, but your workouts should be modified to avoid exercises that put excessive pressure on your midline. This includes traditional crunches or any movement that causes your belly to dome or bulge out.

Q: What are some DR-friendly HIIT exercises?
A: DR-friendly exercises focus on strengthening the transverse abdominis without straining the midline. These can include seated squeezes, side-lying leg lifts, modified bird dogs, and wall push-ups.

Q: How can I modify HIIT workouts to accommodate my Diastasis Recti?
A: Modify your HIIT workouts by eliminating exercises that strain the abdominal separation and replacing them with movements that engage the transverse abdominis. If a workout includes crunches or planks, modify or replace these movements with safer options such as modified bird dogs or wall push-ups. Consult a physical therapist or a trainer experienced in DR for personalized advice and modifications.

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