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“I don’t have time to exercise” is an excuse I hear frequently as a women’s personal trainer. While it’s certainly not a good enough reason to let one’s health decline, it makes a lot more sense to me now that I have an 18-month-old. As moms, we don’t want to neglect our babies, so instead we neglect ourselves. Well, here are 10 challenging exercises, with an instructional video at the end, that you can do with your baby so that no one gets overlooked.
Note: These exercises should only be done with a baby who is already able to hold his or her head up (approximately two months old and up, but varies per child).
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1: Baby presses
This exercise is like your standard chest press, except you are using baby as the weight instead of dumbbells. Lie with your back and feet flat on the ground. Hold your baby securely with both hands so that you are chest to chest. Gently straighten your arms and lift him up, keeping his weight centered above your chest and then slowly lower him back down. Try two sets of 12-15 reps.
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2: Kiss the baby push-up
This move is just like a standard push-up, but you get a kiss for each repetition you complete. Start in push-up position, either on hands and toes or hands and knees. Situate your little helper between your hands on her back, looking up at you. You may think she will squirm away (if she is big enough) but you’ll be surprised how entertaining looking at mommy from this angle can be. Bend at the elbows keeping your back in a straight line and give a quick peck at the bottom before pressing back up. Aim for 20 kisses, but the more the better on this one, right?
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3: Weighted baby squats
This move is a standard squat with extra resistance. Hold your baby chest-to-chest with you in a big bear hug. Feet should be a little further than hip-width apart. Squat down pressing your heels into the ground while keeping your chest elevated and then return to starting position. The extra weight of baby makes this move more challenging and more effective, and it’s a fun little ride for your workout buddy as well. Complete 20 squats, take a quick rest, and try 20 more.
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4: Weighted baby lunges
Start again, chest-to-chest holding onto baby securely. Take a big step out with your right foot, dropping your back knee slowly to the ground. Take this one slow at first if you aren’t used to the movement. Press off the front foot and come back to starting position, then start again with the opposite leg. Complete 15 reps, shake out your legs, and do 15 more.
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5: Baby crunches
This move is just like a regular crunch (with a baby chillin’ on your belly). Lie on the ground in a sit-up position, and hold baby on your stomach or nestled against your thighs. Crunch in toward him until you feel your abs engage and then slowly lower down. Keep your shoulder blades lifted off of the ground, and begin again. Keep crunching for one minute, rest for 10 seconds, and then go again for one more minute. Both hands should be on the baby’s waist to secure him, so he should be stable in this position.
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6: Baby bridge
This is by far my daughter’s favorite move. Lie on your back with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Hold baby’s waist as she sits on your belly with one leg on each side. For smaller babies, you’ll want to hold them snugly against your thighs. Lift your hips high while pressing your feet into the ground and tightening your glutes and thighs. Hold this pose for the count of 10 then slowly return to the ground. Complete 12 reps and on the last one hold the post for 30 seconds before lowering down. This move doesn’t require a lot of balance because the only thing lifting is your hips. Both your feet are securely on the ground as well as your upper back, shoulders and head.
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7: Baby Rotations
This is a challenging move even without baby, so using the extra weight of your little one will definitely heed some quick results. Start in a low squat position hugging your baby at your chest. Staying in the squat, twist to your left, then right, and then back to the center. Press back up to standing position and then lower and repeat. This move is killer for legs, abs and obliques. The weight of the baby will also help sculpt your arms, making it an awesome total body move. Complete 15 reps.
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8: Baby Touch-downs
This is a great exercise for arms and abs. Start in a seated position on the floor with your feet planted firmly on the ground. While holding baby, tilt back slightly until you begin to feel your abs engage. Take a few breaths. This alone is a workout for your abs but by incorporating your arms, you will burn even more calories. Lift baby off of your lap to the right side of your body, gently tapping her feet to the ground. Then lift her to the left and tap her feet again. Continue for 30 seconds while breathing deeply, take a short rest, and begin again for another 30 seconds.
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9: Hip Circles
You may know that it’s important to engage the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy, but it’s also important to do so postpartum. By contracting those muscles you can begin to shrink your belly back to its original size. For this exercise, stand tall while holding baby either chest-to-chest or cradled in your arms. Keep your knees and thighs relaxed and start to circle your hips to the right as if you are hula-hooping, but just in smaller circles. Repeat for 1 minute and then switch directions. This is a subtle movement but if done correctly, you can isolate those internal pelvic floor muscles and work your belly from the inside-out.
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10: Just Dance
Some days, none of these exercises are the least bit appealing. Some days, after cleaning up breakfast, lunch, and dinner from all over your kitchen floors and walls you need a pick-me-up. When all else fails, grab your pint-sized partner, crank up the tunes, and just dance! You will break a sweat, elevate your heart-rate, and best of all, hear some of those glorious giggles — the best reason to dance anyway.
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11: How-to video
If you’re more of a visual learner, I put together this short video demonstrating how to do these moves to get the maximum benefit while keeping baby secure.
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