Week Four: Postpartum Fitness Series
Welcome to Week Four of Pregnancy & Newborn’s 6-Week Postpartum Fitness Series. Here are our goals for the week:
- Challenge yourself by aiming for five to six days of at least 30 minutes of exercise. You can keep your workouts shorter, if needed, but do the best you can to get your heart rate up. In other words, if you have 10 minutes, cruise through this week’s workout without resting—you can do it!
- Incorporate lateral movements to strengthen for your hips, backside, and lower back. Stick your bum out as you complete these exercises to avoid overusing your back and instead focus on strengthening your glutes, which actually help support your entire body.
- Make your posture a top priority. Arm exercises will focus on deep shoulder stability and strength, helping you open up your chest muscles and strengthen your middle back area, too.
- Gently draw your shoulders down and back away from your ears throughout the day, not just when you’re exercising. Nursing makes this a challenging task but it’s worth the effort! After every nursing session, stand up straight and do a couple reps of this week’s arm exercises (without weights) to open up tight chest muscles and help you stand up straighter.
Share your progress on Instagram (@pnmag) and support your fellow mamas on their fitness journeys. When you post a photo of your healthy exercise and eating habits, use the hashtag #PNMag6Weeks to be entered for a chance to win three 30-minute Skype sessions with Erica Ziel of Knocked Up Fitness. The more you tag, the better your odds! (We’re giving away a different prize each week—click here to see them all!)
Whether you follow along with the video or use the step-by-step instructions below to complete the exercises at your own pace, know you’re making progress toward your fitness goals.
EXERCISE 1: Curtsy squats *
- Start standing, with your feet wider than shoulder width apart with your feet parallel.
- Keep your right foot stationary and cross your left leg behind your right. Keeping your weight on your right leg, feel as though you are wrapping around your right hip and backside. Press your butt back so you avoid feeling any stress in your knees.
- Press up with your stationary leg back to standing.
- Switch legs, keeping your left foot stationary and cross your right leg behind your left. With your weight in your left leg, stick your butt out then use your left leg to press up into a standing position.
[tip] During pregnancy, keep your range smaller.
EXERCISE 2: Standing alternating arm raises *
2- to 3-pound dumbbells, 10-20 reps
- Standing tall, reach your left arm up by your ear and your right arm down your right side. Keep your ribcage connected, pulling together and down as best as you can, to target your shoulder blades range of motion.
- Using your middle back along with your shoulders, meet your arms parallel at shoulder height. Be sure your shoulders are reaching down away from your ears.
- Continue the motion until your right arm is up as close to your ear as you can get it and your left is reaching toward the ground.
EXERCISE 3: Standing arm pulls *
1- to 5-pound dumbbells, 10-20 reps
- Standing tall, reach your arms out at shoulder height with your palms facing behind you if possible. (This is a good exercise to practice in front of a mirror so you can watch that your shoulders stay lined up and down out of your ears.)
- Reach your arms together drawing your fists as close as possible. Be sure to squeeze your triceps and middle back. Then as you go to reach your arms back out, press your arms down, then out, deepening your back muscle activation.
- For an extra challenge, add 10-20 pulses at the end when your arms are behind your body.
EXERCISE 4: Squat and curl
- Stand with feet and legs together (or hip width if that’s more comfortable).
- Sit back into a squat with your weight mostly in the heels of your feet and your butt. Do a small ab curl toward your left side, feeling your rib cage wrapping toward your left side. Try to keep your hips as square to your body as you can.
- As you go to stand up back up, focus on moving from your deep core. Think Kegel and scoop your lower abs in and up.
- Sit back into a squat with your weight mostly in the heels of your feet and butt; curl toward your right side.
Repeat exercises 1-5 another one to three times before moving onto the stretch below. You can add more stretches from previous weeks as well.
EXERCISE 5: Standing quad/hip stretch
Hold 10-30 seconds for 2-3 sets
- Start by balancing on your left leg. Keep your left knee softly bent and squeeze your butt to help you balance. Grab your right leg with your right hand and pull your leg back while leaning slightly forward.
- Hold for 10 to 30 seconds for a great quad and hip stretch while working on your balance then switch sides and repeat for a total of two to three sets.
* Exercise is also appropriate for pregnancy.