After welcoming a new baby, it can be hard (impossible?) to get to the gym. And yet, if you’re like me, healthy movement is vital to feeling good. Exercise boosts your mood and improves sleep quality, in addition to supporting physical recovery from pregnancy and birth. Because the real benefits of exercise are so great, and fitting it in during this time of life can be challenging, I designed this invigorating 10-minute workout with new moms in mind.
Perform 3 circuits of these 3 moves outside or at home — all you need is a park bench or kitchen chair. Note: If you are using a chair, secure it against a wall before you get started.
1. Sit Down – Stand Up (Butt, Thighs & Core)
- Begin in a seated position with your feet planted securely on the ground hip-width apart, toes and knees pointing straight ahead. Your toes should be directly under your knees.
- Take a breath to prepare, then exhale and draw your abs toward the spine as you stand up.
- Inhale as you sit back down with control (never plop onto the bench!).
- Exhale and tighten your abs as you stand up. Repeat 20 times. Finish in a seated position.
2. Triceps Dips (Arms & Core)
- Scoot all the way to the front of the bench or chair, and place the heels of your hands just outside of your hips, fingers pointed toward the ground. Walk your feet forward, keeping a slight bend in the knees.
- Lift your butt off of the seat, hovering just in front of it. Take a breath as you bend your elbows to 90 degrees, lowering your body.
- Then exhale and draw your abs toward the spine as you extend your arms to lift your body up to the starting position. Keep a very slight bend in the elbows at the top of the movement to avoid locking the elbows.
- Throughout the set, your back should remain very close to the bench – a loose shirt will brush against the edge if you’re in the proper position.
- Perform 12 dips total – inhale as you lower your body and ‘exhale, belly back’ as you straighten your arms to lift your body up.
3. Incline Plank with Core Compressions (Core & Pelvic Floor)
- Stand up and turn around to face the front of the bench or chair. Place your palms shoulder-width apart on the seat. Walk your feet behind you to assume a plank position: flat back, spine in a straight line (no butt sticking out!) and shoulders anchored down, away from the ears. It’s similar to a push-up position, but you will keep your arms straight.
- Maintain this position for 30-60 seconds and breathe shallowly. Pulse your abs toward the spine with each exhalation. For best results, incorporate a Kegel* as you exhale and engage both the abs and the pelvic floor in an upward lift toward the spine.
- Allow the belly and pelvic floor to gently soften as you inhale between each squeeze. Do not hold your breath.
Now sit down and take a few full diaphragmatic breaths, releasing any tension in your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. With each inhalation, allow your belly to relax and your pelvic floor to soften and lengthen. Take a drink of water, and then perform this entire circuit again (3 rounds total).
Devoting as little as 10 minutes a day to your body is profoundly powerful. Each circuit transforms intentions into actions and brings you one step closer to restoring full strength and function to your wonderfully resilient body.
*Note: Omit Kegels and maintain a neutral pelvic floor if you exhibit symptoms of an overactive pelvic floor, which include tailbone pain, chronic constipation, pelvic pain and pain during intercourse. I also recommend seeing a pelvic health physical therapist.
Leah Keller is a certified personal trainer and the founder of Every Mother (formerly The Dia Method), an online exercise program endorsed by medical and birth professionals worldwide. With over two decades of fitness experience, Leah empowers and equips women to prepare for labor and restore core strength and function postnatally – no matter how long it’s been. Leah has been featured as a women’s health expert by major media outlets, including NPR, Goop and Good Morning America.
Photo courtesy of Every Mother