Get Moving! Easy At-Home Exercises
By Robbi Shveyd, Owner and Founder, Advanced Wellness
For most women, getting back in shape after having a baby is a daunting thought. The truth is that most women wait longer than they need to begin an exercise program postpartum. Assuming that your doctor gives you the green light to exercise (which is typically 3 weeks for vaginal delivery and 6 weeks for C-section), we recommend beginning as soon as possible.
Even before you “officially” start exercising, you should be moving your body (walking, etc.) if possible. What’s stopping you? Well, most often, the lack of free time keeps new mothers from starting a program. The demands placed on you when you have a newborn are extreme (and for your first child, unfamiliar) and thinking about adding one more thing to your day seems impossible. But the truth is that finding time to exercise can be your salvation during this amazing yet challenging stage of your life. At Advanced Wellness, we find that our clients, who come back to the gym as soon as their doctors give them clearance to exercise, feel so much better about themselves both physically and emotionally.
Being a new mom is a wonderful experience but can also be quite isolating and even depressing. During a time that we are conditioned to believe should be blissful, women often feel alone, depleted and sad. Exercise can help! It boosts brain health and literally act as a natural anti-depressant.
Another common reason new moms avoid exercise is lack of access to a gym OR lack of childcare, even if you do have access. If this is you, read on: postmodyrn asked us to put together some exercises that you can do right in your own home with that bundle of joy right there (or better yet, asleep in his/her crib!).
All you need are some free weights or dumbbells to perform these gems (for most of them, you do not need any equipment at all!). 10 repetitions is typically a good number to begin with for each of these exercises, but if you feel like that is too many to begin with, by all means start with fewer. Don’t forget that if the exercise is single sided, you must do both sides for the set to be complete.
IMAGE 1: Single Leg Reach to the Side
Begin balancing on one leg with both feet pointing straight ahead. Reaching both hands forward (or only the opposite one as shown in the picture), bend one leg as the other hovers above the ground out to the side. The standing knee should track over that same foot and the weight should be equally distributed between the heel and the ball of the foot. Keep the toes on the ground and make sure to focus on the heel, as it is common to push your weight to the forefoot. Begin with a small range of motion and once you feel ready, get as low as you can while maintaining good posture (meaning: do not let your upper back round or you lower back arch). Once you feel confident with this move, you can slow the movement down (especially on the descent) and work on getting lower to the ground as a means of increasing intensity.
IMAGE 2: Split Stance Squat (aka non-moving Lunge)
Begin with one foot in front of the other. You can use weight (see picture or hold weights down by your side), or simply body weight. Bend both knees to as close to 90 degrees as possible (trying to get the back knee as close to the ground as you can). Try to keep the majority for your weight in the heel of the front leg. Repeat this movement until the set is complete and then switch to the other leg.
IMAGE 3: Push-ups (floor, elevated as seen in the picture, or from your knees)
Begin with your hands extended from your shoulders. Shoulders, elbows and wrists should be aligned. Your back should be flat with a straight line from your pelvis to the top of your head. Lower your body while keeping the elbows drawn into your side, so at the bottom your elbows will be roughly forty-five degrees from your side. Go down as far as you can without loosing those lines discussed in the set-up. The stronger you get, the lower you will be able to go.
IMAGE 4: Single Arm Row
Start in a staggered stance with the same hand resting on the leg that is forward. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in the opposite hand. Bend forward at the hips with your torso roughly parallel to the floor and lower back flat. Pull the dumbbell up in a vertical line toward your hip, keeping your elbows in close to your body. Slowly lower the dumbbell until your arm is fully extended.
IMAGE 5: Mountain Climbers
Begin in a push-up position (on your hands and toes). Bring the right knee in towards the chest (only as high as the level of your hip), keeping the left foot on the floor; then return to the starting position. Next, bring the left foot in and keep the right foot in place. Continue alternating the feet for 30-60 seconds, keeping the back flat and hips still.
IMAGE 6: Squat
This exercise could also be performed with a light weight (five pounds) in your hands. Begin with your feet about shoulder distance apart and toes very slightly rotated out. Lower yourself to the floor as though you are trying to sit on a low chair, by bending at your hips, knees and ankles. Try to keep your knees tracking over the mid-foot, while keeping your upper body as upright as possible. At the bottom, initiate the movement by pushing your feet through the floor. Move through this motion and then back to the starting position slowly and controlled, being sure not to arch your low back.
IMAGE 7: Single Arm Overhead Press
Begin holding the weight in your hand by your ear, with your elbow by your side just above your hip. Stand with feet about hip width apart. Raise your arm overhead, keeping your shoulder from rising up toward your ear. Then slowly pull the arm back to the original position.
Robbi Shveyd is the owner and founder of Advanced Wellness, San Francisco’s only membership-based personal training gym. Clients train in small group and team training sessions in a clean, fun and safe setting, where the number one priority is member happiness and results!