I love and hate this phrase. As a fit mom and pre and postnatal specialist, I hear it a lot. “Oh, you just bounced right back!” And yes, it is flattering to hear, but the truth of the matter is I didn’t just “bounce back”. It takes hard work and dedication, whether that means sticking to a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and for most of us, doing both... religiously.
The key to bouncing back is with an all-inclusive workout that focuses on Core, Strengthening and Toning, Cardio Endurance, and Flexibility. Here is what that entails and some key exercises to get you started.
1. Core: This is the area that is most affected by pregnancy and an area where it is absolutely essential to be strong as a mom. Your abs and low back help support you in functional every day activities, from cooking and cleaning to lifting and carrying for your baby. Targeted core workouts are essential to help strengthen your entire core as well as tighten your abs so you can maintain good posture, live-pain free, and help that mummy-tummy disappear!
Try This - Resistance Fight: Lie on your back and lift one leg up to tabletop so that your knee is in line with your hip. Take your opposite hand and push against your thigh. As you try to push your leg away with your hand, resist by trying to bring your leg towards you in opposition. As you “fight,” pull your navel towards your spine and close your rib cage. You may feel your body start to shake. Begin by holding for 15 sec on each side and gradually increase to 45 sec.
2. Strengthen and Tone: As a new parent, you are constantly picking up and carrying your little ones, which means strong arms and legs are needed more than ever before. Strengthening and toning the body creates strong, lean muscles to help you keep up with baby.
Try This - Towel Tighteners: This exercise helps tighten your triceps and back. You will need a towel to assist you or light hand weights when you are ready. Hold your towel behind your back, stand shoulder width apart, soften your knees, and hinge forward at the hips. Pull your navel to your spine, as you lift your hands up behind your back. Lower back down and repeat anywhere from 15-30 reps. Your goal is to work to fatigue.
3. Cardio Endurance: Life moves fast once baby arrives and before you know it your little one is crawling, walking, and eventually running! Cardio exercise is key to helping increase your endurance so you can keep up with your little one. Interval drills with active recovery help burn fat even after the workout is complete.
Try This - Go Time!: As a mom, I always feel like no matter how organized you think you are, when it’s time to get out the door all chaos hits. This exercise works your heart, legs and butt, and you can progress as you get stronger with three different levels. 1) Begin by doing a football run (1), count to four, and then walk your feet together into a squat (2). Then walk back out into a wide squat. 2) Scoot your feet together so that you are on your toes (3) and back out into a squat. 3) When you are ready, jump up into the air and back into a squat (4). Perform this exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10, and repeat 3 more times.
4. Recovery: As a mom, your body will often feel taxed. Therefore, it's important to incorporate dynamic stretching into your workout routine to help your muscles recover and keep your body from feeling tense, tight and overused.
Key Move - Baby Back Relief: You will need a towel to assist you. Begin seated on the floor with your legs in front of you. Place the towel under the arches of your feet. Bend your knees as much as you need to, tuck your chin to your chest, engage your core, and pull on the towel as you round your back. You should feel an immediate stretch in your back. Hold this position for a count of four. Release and then repeat 4-6 times as needed.
Sara is an LA-based pre and postnatal fitness specialist and creator of the new postnatal program, Expecting More®:The 4th Trimester Workout. With over 15 years of experience as a fitness instructor, Sara has a passion for educating women about staying fit, healthy and strong during pregnancy and beyond in the safest and most effective ways possible. Outlets Sara’s been featured on include TODAY, ABC 7, Shape.com, Redbook, Fit Pregnancy and more. Follow her on YouTube and @sarahaleyfit on Instagram.