Week Three: Postpartum Fitness Series

By Published On: September 15th, 2013

FitSquad-500x150Welcome to Week Three of Pregnancy & Newborn’s 6-Week Postpartum Fitness Series. Here are our goals for the week:

  • Work out five to six days this week, even if it’s only for 10 minutes one of those days. Moving your body and doing something is better than doing nothing!
  • Focus on deep stabilization, which is essential for all the movement and expansion and contraction your hips go through with pregnancy. These exercises are great to help strengthen your hips, legs, and yes, lower back so you can get up and down from the ground easier with your little ones.
  • If your abs have reconnected, begin incorporating modified planks. If you’re not ready for planks, replace the planks with another set of rotational squats and really put the focus on core connection.

W3_O2Share 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  one of two pairs of Brooks PureCadence Running Shoes. The more you tag, the better your odds! (We’re giving away a different prize each week—click here to see them all!)

Follow along with the video or use the step-by-step instructions below to complete the exercises at your own pace.

EXERCISE 1: Deep squats with rotation *
Optional 2- to 3-pound dumbbells, 20-30 reps

  1. Stand with feet wider than shoulder width apart and slightly rotated out, making sure the rotation comes from your hips. Your knees should be aligned with your feet. Lower your hips down as low as you can while maintaining good form and sticking your backside out.
  2. As you stand up out of the deep squat, rotate to your left, pivoting on your right toe. Keep the focus on your core, scooping your belly in and up while squeezing your bum.
  3. Come out of the rotation and return to a deep squat, feeling as if your backside is getting a little closer to the ground with each repetition.
  4. Stand up and rotate to your right, pivoting on your left toe, to repeat the exercise on the opposite side.

[tip] During pregnancy, limit rotation and move through a range that feels good for your body.
90-DegreeEXERCISE 2: 90-degree lateral rotation *
15-30 reps

  1. Lying on your side with your bottom leg extended straight and top leg bent to 90 degrees, tap your knee on your mat in front of you.
  2. Rotate your leg up, using your hip to move it while keeping your back stable.
  3. Repeat 15-30 reps then add 15-30 pulses in the second position, moving your leg just a couple of inches.

Complete the next two side-lying exercises before repeating the above exercise on the opposite side.
Combo-ArmEXERCISE 3: Combo arm-butt lift
2- to 3-pound dumbbells, 15-30 reps

  1. Lying on your side, slightly roll your body forward to activate your back and butt muscles. Reach your arm straight out in front of you and reach your leg out at about hip height.
  2. Reach your arm and leg up toward the sky. Focus on using your rear deltoids (the backs of your shoulders) and lifting your leg with your bum (not back).
  3. Slowly lower your arm and leg down without quite letting them touch your mat, then lift them again.
  4. For an added challenge, add 15 to 30 pulses at the end range.

[tip] During pregnancy, you may need to position yourself more directly on your side instead of rolling forward.
Complete the next side-lying exercise before repeating the above exercises on the opposite side.
EXERCISE 4: Inner thigh *
15-30 reps

  1. Begin by lying on your side as you did in the previous exercise. Bend your top knee forward, then reach your bottom leg straight out below your body. Reaching through your heel slowly, lift and hold for a second, then lower down to tap your mat (but don’t release your inner thigh muscle). Squeeze your inner butt too!

Repeat all three previous side-lying exercises on the opposite side before moving on.
Modified-PlankEXERCISE 5: Modified plank
Hold for 10 to 60 seconds

  1. On your knees, keep your hips tucked and elbows under your shoulders. Your backside can be slightly lifted to begin with if needed. Think about drawing your ribcage down and together while doing a gentle Kegel and scooping your lower belly in and up. You should feel your abs working!

[tip] This is a good way to get your abs/core stronger if your abdominal connection is back together. If you’re not ready for any planks yet, repeat the squats with rotation in place of planks.
For a complete workout, complete exercises 1-5 another one to three times, then move onto the stretches for a quiet moment (even if it’s only two minutes!).
Down-Dog-StretchEXERCISE 6: Down dog
Hold for 10 to 30 seconds

  1. From your hands and knees, straighten your arms and legs to assume the down dog pose. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, slowly easing into stretching your back and hamstrings while letting your neck relax too. Soften your knees to help get a better back stretch, especially if your hamstrings are tight.

MermaidEXERCISE 7: Mermaid stretch *
2-4 reps

  1. Sit with your knees bent, left one tucked behind you and right one in front, with your right foot touching your left knee. Place your right hand beside you and reach your left arm up and over your head toward the right so feel a stretch along your left side.
  2. Press your hips up and reach your right arm straight and left arm back. Hold this stretch for one to two deep breaths, thinking about opening up the front of your hips.
  3. Repeat another one to three times before repeating on the opposite side.

* Exercise is also appropriate for pregnancy.