The Perfect Post-Pregnancy Workout to Get Back in Shape
Last Updated: May 22, 2015
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Pregnant African mother with young daughter sitting on the bed meditating
You’ve survived the cravings, weight gain and mood swings of pregnancy, and now you have a precious baby to show for it! But as a new mom, your time is limited, so make the most of the time you do have by finding challenging-but-fun workouts that you can do at home with your baby close by. Carve out some time to enjoy yourself, turn on your favorite jams and get ready to sweat. This workout targets the main trouble areas that can be the toughest to change after being pregnant, but with a little work you can tone and tighten all over. Plus, the endorphins and energy boost from working out are a necessity for new moms. Check out these 10 exercises that will get you back to your pre-baby weight -- with added definition.
Pregnant woman sitting on the floor touching her abdomen
Every good (and safe) workout starts with a warm-up. Always make sure you warm up your body before your workout to prevent injury. Get your body moving and your heart pumping by doing leg kicks for one minute (alternate legs with each kick), jogging in place for one minute and then doing jumping jacks for two minutes.
Related: 10 Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises to Prime You for Your Workout
side profile of a pregnant woman sitting in a meditative pose
By targeting your hips and legs, side kicks help prevent cellulite and firm up the hip and glute areas. HOW TO DO THEM: Start with your feet hip-width apart, lean to your left side and point your right foot. Then bend your left knee and kick out as hard as you can. Perform two sets of 20 reps as fast as you can on each leg (four sets total). To challenge yourself, add ankle weights on the kicking leg for more resistance.
Related: The Cardio Abs Workout
Pregnant African woman practicing yoga
You may notice that your shoulders are pulling forward or your posture has changed since you had your baby. Part of the reason is that carrying added weight in the front of your body has challenged your back muscles and they may not be as strong as they could be. Stop bad posture in its tracks by performing rows with a resistance band. HOW TO DO THEM: Start seated with the band looped around your feet and a handle in each hand. Hold your hands in a wide-grip position, then contract your shoulder blades together, keeping shoulders down. Pull as hard as you can for three sets of 15 reps.
Related: 9 Sandbag Moves That Will Get You Shredded
REVERSE LUNGES WITH KICK
Targeting your lower body can be a challenge because women tend to store more fat around the midsection and thighs. To burn calories while firming up your legs, New York City personal trainer Chris Hale cites reverse lunges as his go-to move post-pregnancy. “Reverse lunges are a fantastic exercise for anyone because they recruit the hamstring and glute muscles, but they are even better for helping reduce stress on the knees,” he says. HOW TO DO THEM: Start standing with your feet together. Step back with one leg and bend both knees so they’re at 90-degree angles. Make sure your front and back foot are straight and that your front knee isn’t extending past your toes. After you step back into the lunge, kick the back leg forward, bring your foot back down beside the other and switch sides. Repeat for three sets of 10 reps as fast as you can to slim and tone your lower body.
Related: 10 Exercise Variations for Greater and Faster Results
Getting back into your full fitness routine will be a challenge at first, so start slowly and build back up to it. The chest press is a great exercise that you can scale as your strength increases and your body readjusts to working out. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back and grab two five- to 15-pound weights (make sure the weight is challenging but manageable). With your back flat on the ground and palms facing your feet, press the weights up over your chest and bring them back down so your elbows are almost touching the ground. Repeat for three sets of 10 reps.
Related: Buddy Up With These 11 Exercises You Can Do With a Partner
The back of the arms -- the triceps area -- is a trouble zone for many women, but triceps dips are a great way to target this area and add definition. HOW TO DO THEM: Find a chair, end of a couch or even the ground and start with your hands shoulder-width apart and back straight. Your fingers should point toward your feet. Bend your elbows back behind you and lower yourself into a triceps dip. Repeat for three sets of 10 reps. If you can’t extend your legs straight out in front of you, bend your legs for a modification.
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After giving birth, your midsection is likely your main area of concern. Ab twists work your entire abdominal and core region to tone and tighten your tummy. HOW TO DO THEM: Start lying on your back and extend your arms out in front of you. Curl up to a sit-up position and twist your body and hands all the way to the left side, then twist to the right. Continue twisting to each side for two sets of 30 reps. To make this more challenging, you can hold a weight or medicine ball in your hands.
Related: The 41 Toughest Ab Exercises
To target your glutes and hamstrings, there is no better exercise than the deadlift. It’s hands down the best move to lift, firm and tighten your backside. HOW TO DO IT: Begin with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a dumbbell in each hand at shin level. Choose weights that are challenging but manageable. Maintain a flat back during this exercise, and make sure your knees are slightly bent. Contract your hamstrings and rise up to standing. Pause and lower back down to the start. Perform two sets of 15 reps.
Related: The Top 15 Moves to Tone Your Glutes
Another great exercise to target your backside -- specifically your glutes and hamstrings -- is hamstring curls. Doing them on a stability ball also challenges your balance and engages your core. HOW TO DO THEM: Lie on your back and place your feet on top of the stability ball. Lift your hips up as you press your weight through your feet. Once you’re in a raised bridge, contract your glutes and hamstrings and bring your heels toward your body. Hold for two seconds, then roll the ball back out slowly and with control. Repeat for two sets of 15 reps.
Related: 17 Exercises to Shape and Tone Your Booty
It’s probably been a while since your last plank, but don’t let that scare you. Remember to start slowly and build up to your pre-pregnancy workouts. For this move especially, you may want to modify it so that you’re starting you plank on your knees. HOW TO DO IT: Begin on hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Stretch out your body so that your hips flatten out and your body is in one straight line from your head to your feet (or knees if you’re modifying). Hold for 30 seconds and do three sets.
Related: 20 of the Best Body-Weight Exercises
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you just had a baby? Congrats! How are you planning on getting back into exercising? Have you tried any of these exercises? How have these exercises assisted you in getting your pre-baby body back? What is your biggest challenge in squeezing time out of your day to work out? Which exercise is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below!
Related: 5 Fast Strength-Building Exercises for New Moms
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