Exercise after baby: a new perspective on fitness
Exercise can mean many different things to different people and this is so true when your situation or environment changes. I am sure all the mums out there agree that their level of ‘busy’ changes dramatically when they have a newborn, as I have quickly found out. Your time is no longer your own and the idea of having an hour to exercise seems a far distant memory. I’ve had to adapt and look at exercise with a whole new perspective. I have spoken about ‘room blocks’ before – this is where you choose areas in your home or at work and do a pre-selected exercise. It works well for people who are just too busy to get to the gym or don’t have the time to do more than a few minutes of exercise. That is certainly me right now! I am finding this is working an absolute charm so below I am sharing my current home ‘room block’ exercise circuit. I hope you find something that works for you – and if you are not a new mum – this is still a great little workout routine to target your abdominals, strengthen your lower back, tone your arms and improve posture.
Straight after feeding, my beautiful baby girl Lexi and I have playtime. I start with my muscle activation exercises at this time as we are both on the floor on her play mat and yes, I get her to share her mat with me.
Exercise 1: Side lying clams – 15 each side
These are great for activating and targeting your glute (bum) muscles – many of us struggle with this area simply because they are not doing their job, so this is the perfect opportunity to get them going. I place my hand on the glute area to help me activate the muscle – if you are unsure of what a clam exercise is just ask ‘Dr Google’ for a side lying clam exercise.
Exercise 2: Knee baby press ups – 12 repetitions
Have baby lie on the mat in front of you, place your hands on either side while kneeling and go into a press up position, remaining on your knees and performing half press ups above baby. I usually give her a little kiss every time I do the lowering portion of the press up. It’s perfect for toning the arms, shoulders and chest area, as well as engaging your abdominal region.
Exercise 3: Lying abdominal activators – 20 repetitions each side
These are my go to for any mum post-baby, whether you have had a C-section like myself or a natural birth. I use this a lot with other clients to simply help them activate and engage their abdominals – it’s very hard to work a muscle that is not switched on so it’s imperative to do this before doing any big exercises like crunches. Simply lie flat on your back on the ground - or if you prefer you can have your knees bent - and place your hands over your lower abdominals (just under the belly button). To find the muscles we are working, do a little cough and you will feel them contract. We want to pulse these on and off just gently for 20 reps without the upper torso doing any of the work. It can be a little challenging isolating these at first, but persevere and it will soon get easier.
I also like to tone and condition the muscles where I can throughout the day, without relying on a gym or weights as I often don’t have the time or prefer to spend it with my daughter. The best piece of baby equipment that helps with this is a front carry pack. It is perfect for the little one as they go straight to sleep once in the pack. This is an excellent time for walking so during her nap times I will often plan a walk with some ‘conditioning bites’. These are simply all variations of squats while I have her in the pack. She is currently 6kg so this is perfect for me to get some good resistance work. Simply use a sturdy bench or if at home the couch or bed (use some hand rails or the wall if you feel you need some extra support to begin with and perform some squats first with feet shoulder width apart, then try feet a little wider, then try a plie squat with feet pointing out. Aim for 5 to 10 of each squat and have a little rest and then repeat. Another idea is to do some of these any time you go past a particular chair if wearing the front pack at home, or if you’re outside, try for every park bench. These squats with a pack will also help with your core strength and improve your lower back strength.
I have always been a huge advocate of small things making for great changes and now being a first-time mother I am finding this to be even more important to ensure I can stay strong and healthy while doing the best for my family – as we all know it can be quite a juggling act!