Top 5 Exercises for Postpartum Moms

I am almost one month postpartum and although I’m still slightly sleep deprived, I’m loving every second of having a new baby in the house again!

But I have to admit that I didn’t keep up with my fitness as well as I should have during my pregnancy, so I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to get back to my pre-pregnancy body. Can you relate?

Eh, it’s okay. We’ll make it through together. Baby steps…baby steps.

The other day as I was getting ready to exercise (getting out of bed) I thought of the exercises I need to do to help my body support my baby. A few exercises came to mind and I want to share them with you!

As an ISSA Certified Master Trainer, trainer-of-trainers, and postpartum mom; here are my TOP 5 EXERCISES for Postpartum Moms:

  1. Kegel exercises: Find the muscles you use to stop urinating. Squeeze these muscles for 3 seconds. Then relax for 3 seconds. Your stomach and thigh muscles should not tighten when you do this. Add 1 second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds each time. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times per session. Try to do this at least 3 times a day. Don’t do Kegels while you urinate. Doing them during urination can hurt your bladder (WebMD).
  2. Side lateral raises: Grasp dumbbells in front of thighs with elbows slightly bent. Bend over slightly with hips and knees bent slightly. Raise upper arms to sides until elbows are shoulder height. Maintain elbows’ height above or equal to wrists. Lower and repeat.
    NOTE: Keep elbows pointed high while maintaining slight bend through elbows (10° to 30° angle) throughout movement. At top of movement, elbows (not necessarily dumbbells) should be directly lateral to shoulders since elbows are slightly bent forward. Dumbbells are raised by shoulder abduction, not external rotation. If elbows drop lower than wrists, front deltoids become primary mover instead of lateral deltoids. To keep resistance targeted to side delt, torso is bent over slightly (ExRx.net).
  3. Standing hip abduction: Stand with feet slightly apart, knees slightly bent, hands on hips. Shift weight to right leg keeping it slightly bent. EXHALE: Keeping toes pointed forward, foot flexed, and leg straight, lift the left foot off the ground and out to the side as high as you can. Hold here for 2 counts. INHALE: Lower slowly with control without letting left foot or leg rest, to complete one rep. Complete all reps and switch sides.
    NOTE: Do not let momentum swing your leg. Keep it slow and controlled. Try to keep upper body straight– don’t lean forward or back. Also try to keep both legs in line with body, not forward or behind (SparkPeople.com).
  4. Plank: Start by getting into a push up position. Bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms and not on your hands. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine. Hold this position for the prescribed time (30dayfitnesschallenges.com).
  5. Squats: Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles. Roll the shoulders back and down away from the ears. Note: Allowing the back to round (like a turtle’s shell) will cause unnecessary stress on the lower back. It’s important to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. Extend arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down. Initiate the movement by inhaling and unlocking the hips, slightly bringing them back. Keep sending hips backward as the knees begin to bend. While the butt starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, and the back stays straight. Keep the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine. The best squats are the deepest ones your mobility allows. Optimal squat depth would be your hips sinking below the knees (again, if you have the flexibility to do so comfortably). Pro tip: Squatting onto a box until the butt gently taps it will be a reminder to squat low. Engage core and, with body weight in the heels, explode back up to standing, driving through heels. Imagine the feet are spreading the floor (left foot to the left, right foot to the right) without actually moving the feet (Greatist.com).
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Why do I prescribe these exercises? Let’s review:

Kegel Exercises

These exercises will help prevent those little “sneeze-squirts” that happen to all new moms. Also, if you have older kids who like to go to trampoline parks…you’ll be able to join them without wearing a diaper. ’nuff said?

Side Lateral Raises

As much as you’ll be nursing, snuggling, and rocking your little one, you’ll need some strong deltoids. These are the muscles at the tops of your shoulders that connect to your biceps and triceps. They look very pretty in tank tops when they are lean and developed! But they don’t need to be huge. Using a light weight and high repetitions will build the muscular endurance you’ll need for cuddling your newborn. As baby gets bigger, increase your resistance and use a lower number of repetitions to build muscular strength. I’ll share anterior and posterior deltoid raises in another post so that you get some pretty, well-balanced shoulders.

Standing Hip Abduction

My hips were shot after my first pregnancy. As a matter of fact, for all three of my pregnancies I had to sleep in a reclining chair instead of my bed because the stress of laying flat was too much for my spreading hips. If you experienced hip pain during your pregnancy, then you probably avoided any and all exercises that made them even more sore…so this exercise will help to strengthen those hips again. Great for the “mom rock” that you’ll be performing for countless hours per day.

Plank

This is the safest exercise for moms who have had a natural or Cesarean birth. You can start on your knees, work your way up to a full plank and then add some weight as you progress. You’ll need strong abdominal muscles for carrying that little babe everywhere you go!

Squats

Starting in your second trimester, you may have noticed your lower back aching a little more than usual. Then, as baby started plumping up, you may have noticed a considerable curve in your lower back. Reasonably so, as your abdomen was jutting out with the weight of a tiny human and pulling your lower back forward. To strengthen your lower back and correct that curve, you’ll need to do some squats. Plus, if you’re like me, your booty disappeared and your hubby is lamenting the loss. Squats will plump up your back side and make hubby happy.

There you have it!

Join me on Instagram for photos of each of these exercises and for more exercises to help you get back in shape and ready to chase that growing-up-faster-than-we-want-them-to little one!

As an added bonus, here’s a basic exercise plan to help you get started! I’ve included some additional exercises in it so you’ll have a well-balanced program. Please feel free to share!

Click here to download –> POSTPARTUM FITNESS PROGRAM <–

16 Responses to Top 5 Exercises for Postpartum Moms

    • How awesome that you are a pre-and post-natal trainer! I’m writing a certification curriculum for that right now! You’re right…kegel exercises are very important before, during, and after pregnancy!

    • Deborah, I’m so glad you’ll be able to share these exercises! Let me know how everyone feels after a few weeks!

    • I agree, Glenneth. Squats and planks are two of my favorite exercises and I include them in all of my client’s programs.

  1. These are great exercises even if you don’t have a baby! I’ve done many of them after hip surgery! Great post! Love how you described why you do each exercise. It’s funny because I was just talking to my fiancé about deltoid a earlier and couldn’t remember what part of the shoulder they were. You answered my question, so thanks! Haha

    • Hip surgery? Yikes! Well, I’m glad you kept exercising afterward…that is so important! Stay tuned for future posts as I’ll share how to sculpt those deltoids and make them look amazing for summer!

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