In an earlier post, I wrote about working out post-pregnancy: when it is okay to workout, how to adjust to the changes your body has undergone, and modifications to make until you’re ready to bust-out those max force workouts again. When I was asked, “What exercises should I do then?” by a couple of women, I thought the answer would help many women with the same question. So, here are some great exercises for you new moms out there (or anyone, really!!)
For these exercises, let your baby join in on the fun by laying/playing next to you on the mat or towel!
Lifting side plank
Lay on your right side. Lift torso off of the ground, propping up your body on right forearm. Be sure that your elbow stays under your shoulder. Your left arm is down at your side. Feet are stacked straight out, left leg on top. Using your right arm as an anchor, shift your weight and lift your hips off the ground so that you come into a side plank position. At the same time, extend your left arm over your head, palm facing down. Your body remains in a straight line. Do two sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
Lying on your stomach with your baby in front of you, bend your legs so that they form a 90-degree angle and rest your chin on your hands in front of you. Then, keeping your feet flexed, slowly lift your knees off the floor, squeezing your legs together as you push your feet up toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 20 seconds (you can sing to your little one to help the time pass) and return to start. Repeat three to five times. ** you can also do regular supermans.
Threading-the-needle leg lifts
Lay on your right side. Lift torso off of the ground, propping up your body on right forearm. Take left leg (top leg), bend it, and set your foot onto the ground in front of your right knee. Your torso remains perpendicular to the floor and your body is in a straight line from head to feet. Now, your right leg is underneath the left bent leg (like a thread through a needle). Using the inner thigh muscles, lift your right leg as far off the ground as you can. Hold two seconds and lower. Maintain straight alignment and eliminate any hip rotation. After ten repetitions, switch to the left side and repeat. Do two sets of these on both sides.
For this exercise, you’ll need a front carrier. Just a fyi for non-moms, they look like a backpack, only the bag is in the front and it has a baby in it! Now, I don’t personally own one of these baby carriers, but I do know that your baby works as great counterbalance for this exercise (just like if you were holding a dumbbell). Stand in a wide squat position, toes pointing to the corners. Slowly bend your legs, making sure your knees don’t go out over your ankles, and try to get as close to parallel with the ground as you can. Raise up while squeezing the glutes to really work those muscles and your inner thighs. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
Triceps Dips (on floor)
Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Place your hands directly behind hips, fingers facing forward. Straighten your arms and lift your butt about six inches off the ground, more if you can. Shift weight back onto your arms and lift toes off the ground.. Use your heels and core to balance. Bend elbows straight back behind you, making sure to not round the shoulders. Lower your upper body as low as you can, and lift up, squeezing your triceps at the top. Do 2-3 sets of 12 reps.
Now when your little one is sleeping, try a couple of these:
Stand with arms out, feet together. Keeping your core tight, lift your right leg as high as you can without bending or twisting your torso, toes point towards the ceiling. In one fluid motion, bring the leg down and lift it back behind you as high as you can without bending forward. (Try to do this without letting your foot touch the floor on the way down) Return to center. Do 12 reps. Switch sides. Do 2 sets on both sides.
Squat to abductors lifts
Stand with your feet a little narrower than hip-width and hands on hips. Squat down, keeping your back flat and pushing your butt back so that your toes don’t go out over your ankles. As you return to standing, lift the right leg out to the side as high as you can, toes facing forward. This targets the outer hip muscle. Return to center. Repeat on the left side. That is one rep. Do 2 sets of 12 reps.
Everyone’s favorite yoga pose~ It helps to elongate the muscles you just worked as well as the spine and hips. Come to hands and knees on mat. Tuck toes and slowly straighten the legs as you bring hips towards the ceiling. Keep hands firmly rooted to the mat, especially fingertips. Hold this position, stretching your spine, hips, shoulders, and legs. Return to hands and knees and sit back on your heels in child’s pose… which is the last exercise!
Ironic name, right? 🙂 As you sit back onto your heels, reach arms out in front of you and lay your head in between your arms on the floor. Rest for 10 seconds. This yoga pose actually helps your internal organs to re-settle where they were before being pushed aside to make room for baby. Doing this pose alone for 5 minutes a couple of times a day will also help re-define your normal center of balance.
From here, go back to downward-facing dog. Do this five times, and you’re done!