Picture it: you’re four weeks postpartum and standing in the grocery store checkout line when you break out in a cold sweat as you stare at the tabloid magazines – they seem to be whispering to you…“if celebrities can bounce back in six weeks, why can’t you?!” Just as you’re starting to gain control of the wild ride called motherhood, the pressure to reclaim your pre-baby body is glaring back at you in a glossy, four-color, more-than-likely retouched image. While those bodies and timelines are unrealistic for most of us, the fact is, exercise can play an important and positive role in your postpartum recovery by helping you to reduce stress, manage hormones and gain a new love for your hard-earned “mom bod.”
With the help of our guest fitness guru Keely (and her 11-month-old side-kick Max), we’re sharing a few simple, but effective exercises you can do with baby in tow to put you on track to bringing your sexy back. Of course, before you start any training or diet program, consult with your doctor to ensure your body is ready for action and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (before, during and after your workout).
Begin with a stroller walk with your baby. Five to 10 minutes is enough to wake up the muscles.
Begin with 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps. per exercise.
Target area: lower body
With baby in the stroller, stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees and toes pointed forward. Hold onto the stroller for balance. Squat down to about 90 degrees as if you were sitting in a chair. Return to starting position.
Advanced move: hold baby at chest height as you squat.
Target area: shoulders/arms
Hold baby under armpits at chest height. Extend arms/baby straight up as if reaching up into a cabinet.
Modification: press arms only or diaper bag overhead
Target area: abdominals
Sit on the floor with knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Arms extend straight out with hands by knees. Slowly lift both feet off the floor about one inch. Try to hold for 30 seconds.
Advanced move (pictured below): Same as above but straighten legs. For added intensity, hold your baby!
Target area: core
This is exercise is great to do while baby is playing on his back or doing tummy time. Position yourself face down on the floor on forearms and knees. Both should be at a 90 degree angle. Extend the right arm forward touching the ground and the left foot back touching the ground. Slowly raise both arm and leg simultaneously until they are even with your trunk. Hold two seconds and return to start. Complete one side and then repeat on the other side.
Target area: gluteus maximus (AKA booty!)
Place baby in stroller. Hold the stroller handle for balance. Place one leg in front and the other in back. Slowly bend both knees until they reach 90 degrees (making sure legs are far enough apart). Return to starting position. Switch sides.
End your workout with a few basic stretches for the muscles you just worked. Hold 15-20 seconds until you feel a comfortable stretch.
- Quad stretch: hold onto stroller with one hand. Bend the opposite leg grabbing the top of the foot.
- Shoulder stretch: straighten one arm and bring across your chest grabbing it with the opposite arm.
- Hamstring/Low Back stretch: sitting next to your baby, extend both legs out in front of you. Place both hands on the top of your legs and reach toward your toes as far as you comfortably can.
- Inner thigh stretch: sitting next to your baby, bend your legs so that the bottoms of your feet are touching and knees are pointing out. Lean forward until you feel inner thighs stretching.
Remember, return to your exercise program slowly and as your body and schedule allows. Life is different now and so is your figure – ENJOY it!