Postpartum Fitness

Reclaim Your Body Safely with the Right Postpartum Workout

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Congrats! You’ve graduated from pregnancy into the wild and wonderful world of parenthood, for the first time…or again! After watching your body expand to accommodate another human being for 9 months, you are more than ready to begin your postpartum fitness program to return to a shape that you recognize and feel comfortable with.

Once your doctor has cleared you to begin, ease into your postpartum workout regimen with the beginner exercises listed below and gradually work your way up to the intermediate and advanced options.

Beginner

Take a Stroll

It’s great to look down and see your feet again! So, start moving them by taking easy, relaxing walks. With the baby safely ensconced in the stroller, a daily walk can be a delightful bonding experience as well as gentle wakeup call to your muscles. A few laps around the block will be just what the personal trainer ordered to uplift the spirit and gradually increase your energy and endurance.

Kegels

Kegels are the mainstay of postpartum exercises. They target the pelvic floor muscles which can be taxed during childbirth.

  • Sit on a bench with feet shoulder-width apart, hands on hips. Contract your pelvic muscles, as if you're trying to stop from urinating, and stand.

  • Hold Kegel and return to bench, then release.

  • Do 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps.

To Make it harder: 

  • With back to bench, stand a foot in front of bench seat and bend elbows to clasp hands in front of chest.

  • Lift leg straight in front of you a few inches off ground and bend right knee to sit down briefly on bench as you Kegel.

  • Keeping left leg raised throughout, stand up immediately, releasing Kegel and pressing through right heel to straighten right leg.

  • Do 12 reps. Switch legs, repeat.

Floor Bridges

This movement is a great stretch for your hip flexors, and strengthens both hamstrings, butt and kegel muscles.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, arms by your sides.

  • Engage core and squeeze butt to lift off the floor, pressing heels into the ground.

  • Kegel at the top of the bridge, hold for three seconds, and slowly return to floor. Release Kegel at bottom of bridge.

  • Do 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Crunches

These modified crunches work abs and legs while protecting the back.

  • Lie faceup on mat with knees bent 90 degrees, legs lifted, calves parallel to floor.

  • Place hands behind head, elbows out, and crunch up, lifting shoulders off mat.

To make it harder:

  • Keep shoulders off the matt.

  • Extend legs diagonally up, cross ankles, and extend arms overhead.

  • Holding this position, switch feet over and under each other 8 times.

  • Return to start. Do 8 reps.

Intermediate

Forearm Plank

After a couple months, your postpartum fitness routine may include these all-important core exercises that target abs, obliques, thighs, and butt. Planks and side planks are a great way to work your entire core without straining the neck and back.

  • Get into plank position (abs engaged, back straight, forearms on floor, legs extended).

  • Hold for 30-60 seconds, keeping hips up and abs tight.

  • Lower knees to floor, resting for 30 seconds before resuming.

  • Complete a rep of 4-5 planks.

Make it harder

  • After you've held a plank for 30-60 seconds, move into side plank, shifting body weight to left hand and rotating body to extend right arm directly up, palm forward.

  • Stack right foot on top of left.

  • Hold for 30-60 seconds, switch sides.

Hamstring Curl

This exercise requires a stability ball, a great tool for working the hamstrings and the butt muscles.

  • Lie faceup on ground with arms slightly out to sides, knees bent and calves resting on center of stability ball, feet flexed.

  • Lift hips up, squeeze abs tight and bend knees to curl ball in toward you.

  • Slowly push legs back out, keeping hips up at all times.

  • Do 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps 

Modified Squat Thrust

The marines do them and so can you! Start with the modified version and work your way up to the more advanced squat thrust. Either way you will give those abs, legs and butt a postpartum workout.

  • Lower into squat position, hands touching floor just in front of feet.

  • Quickly step legs back so that you are in push-up position. Without pausing, step feet forward just in front of your hands and return to standing position.

  • Do 1-3 sets of 5-10 reps.

Make it harder: 

  • Instead of stepping feet back, quickly jump feet back and forth.

Advanced

Wide-Stance Deadlifts

Here is great practical exercise to strengthen your lower back, butt and legs to help you remain injury free, as that beautiful baby you are constantly lifting gets heavier every day.

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand with palms facing body.

  • Slowly bend forward, pushing your butt back while lowering dumbbells to shin level.

  • Tighten glutes and return to start.

  • Do 1-3 sets of 8-10 reps. 

Push-ups

Working arms, legs, shoulders, abs, butt and hamstrings, push-ups are a true multi-tasker. When you are ready, they will be a beneficial addition to your postpartum workout repertoire.

  • Start with hands and toes on floor, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

  • Bend at the elbows and lower chest about an inch from the ground.

  • Straighten arms and push away from the floor, returning to start position.

  • Do 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Walking Lunges

These postpartum workout favorites can be done anytime, anywhere and are a great way to tone and strengthen the legs and butt.

  • Stand with feet together, hands on hips.

  • Take a large step forward, bending so both knees are at 90 degrees.

  • Push through the heel of the front leg and return to standing position.

  • Repeat on opposite side. Do 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Make it harder:

  • Follow the directions above and add light weights in both hands.

Remember, your body has been through a lot, what with the creating of life and all. Be kind to it and don’t overdo. Getting and staying in optimal postpartum shape is a marathon, not a sprint. Start slowly and you’ll be pursuing your favorite full-scale fitness routine again in no time.