Before you begin with ab exercises, how far post partum is this client? Has she been seen by a physician and had her “torn ab muscles” evaluated? Is this a clinical diagnosis and if it is, how “torn” are the ab muscles?
Torn abdominals post-partum are classified as a diastasis recti. Doctors sometimes evaluate this, sometimes they don’t unless asked. The diagnosis is usually made based on a scale system determined by how big the gap is between the rectus abdominals.
This client should be seen by a physician before proceeding with any “ab” exercises. If it is a diagnosed diastasis then bracing needs to occur before starting any activities. The client should also begin with learning how to engage the abdominals without engaging the gluteals. Proper positioning and bracing is important. Then beginning with stability exercises rather than strengthening is a first step. The client should be able to maintain their positioning without compromising form before moving on to strengthening.
This is not a case of the abdominals being weak! Pregnancy changes the body and can alter stability and posture due to weakened and tightened muscles.
If you do not have any experience with this client group, I’d suggest you read up on post-partum exercise, diastasis recti and women’s health, before proceeding.
One last thing, the baby did not tear her ab muscles. Depending on how far post partum she is, it is perfectly normal for the abdominals to be stretched or to have a diastasis. It takes time depending on genetics, age, collegen content, how much weight she had gained, how tramatic the birth was, what type of a delivery it was, etc, to get abdominal muscles back and to engage them correctly. Don’t blame the client or the baby. This is a natural process as is the rebuilding. Start with compassion and learning.
Pilates and Yoga breathing, core engagement and stability exercises are a great starting point.
Please take care with this client as a progression too fast can do more damage, rather than healing.