1. Cardio stroller intervals
Aim for 10 to 15 minutes of cardio daily — pushing baby in the stroller totally counts. To do intervals with your stroller, walk for a minute, then with stroller brakes locked in place, face baby (who’s sitting the stroller) and do jumping jacks, lunges, or a stretch. Continue walking for another minute, then break for another quick exercise. Bonus: when working out in front of baby, you’ll entertain her — especially if she’s fidgety in the stroller.
“With a really secure jogging/all terrain stroller locked in place, you can even do barre moves on the stroller,” adds Suzanne Bowen of Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre Workout. For example, holding the stroller lightly for balance, bring one leg forward and other leg back into lunge. Lift your front foot’s heel and lunge straight down. Pulse for one minute. Switch sides. In just three minutes, you’ll feel a good burn in your legs.
You’ve heard of kegels, but have you really been doing them? These exercises not only help condition your pelvic muscles (meaning less pee leakage — yay!), but may help prevent back or hip pain five, or even, ten years down the road, says Annie Malaythong, a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and master instructor.
The good news: Kegels are easy to do, and you can do them anywhere — even while holding baby. Just squeeze your pelvic floor muscles (imagine you’re trying to stop the flow of urine) for 3 seconds; relax for 3 seconds; and repeat. Do 10 repetitions; 3 times a day. When it feels easy, progress by adding more repetitions, working up to 50 to 100 kegels a day.
3. Squat and curl
When baby’s old enough to be holding her head, neck and torso up by herself (about four to five months old) hold her in your arms and squat. As you return to a standing position, “curl” baby in toward you. For good form, stand with your feet hip-width apart, and as you lower your butt, be sure your legs stay parallel, knees in line with your ankles and your toes. Don’t let your knees go beyond your toes, and keep them from collapsing in or out.
4. Plié squats
Wearing baby in a sturdy and secure carrier, stand with your legs wide and toes turned out. Keep your arms wrapped around baby and begin to bend your knees. As you stand, rotate and twist your upper body to the right while pivoting entire left leg in. With slow and controlled moves, alternate sides — breathing in as you lower and breathing out on the twist. Bowen says this works both the lower body and waist, and the breathing helps you de-stress (who couldn’t use some of that?!).
Forget full sit-ups for now. The plank is a less painful way to help strengthen core muscles (especially if you’ve experienced ab-muscle separation). Plus, it’s easy to do it during baby’s tummy time.
Hold the plank position — the up position of a pushup — for 20 seconds; rest; repeat 3 or 4 times. (Work up to holding plank for 60 seconds, 3 or 4 times.) You can place baby right in front of you on the floor so you two can bond while you’re holding this pose.
Check yourself to make sure you’re doing the plank correctly. Shoulders should be directly over wrists, tummy tight, pelvis neutral, and legs straight with toes tucked under (imagine your heels pressing back). Make sure your glutes, quads, hamstrings, low back and abs are engaged. If this is too tough, bring your knees to the floor.
6. Total-body stretch
For an awesome postnatal stretch, Malaythong recommends getting a foam roller. Using this cool (and affordable!) tool can help relieve tight muscles, release tension, and help you get your posture back.
To stretch your quadriceps, lie on your stomach with one leg on the foam roller and the other on the floor. Apply pressure by shifting your weight to the leg on the foam roller and roll up and down your leg, avoiding the hipbone and knee. If there is a really tight knot or area, hold that position up to 30 seconds and then continue to roll. This can be done for one set on a daily basis.
7. One-legged balance
Your balance is probably off, since pregnancy tends to mess with that. Practice standing on one leg at first. Your ankles may shake because your joints are weak, says Malaythong, but they’ll stabilize as you get stronger.
For more of a challenge, try tree pose. Balance on one leg; bend the opposite knee and bring the sole of the foot anywhere on the inside of the standing leg (except on the knee joint). Repeat on other side. Hold your baby in your arms when you do this as you get stronger.
8. Going for a swing
This one’s easy — when you’re out at the park, swing on a swing. Sadie Lincoln of _ Element: Barre Conditioning DVD _says she personally discovered how much fun — and what a workout — swinging is once she became a mom. “My husband was pushing our baby in the baby swing and I was next to them pumping my legs away,” she says. Of course, it only works if you have someone else to watch baby while you swing, or if you have an older child who can swing by himself. Find two side-by-side swings and go for it!
9. Mom tag-team workout
Meet three friends with babies at the park, suggests Bowen. For fifteen minutes two friends leave babies with the other two moms and go off for a quick 15-minute yoga session, jog, walk or other strength routine (push-ups and triceps dips on a park bench, anyone?) Then switch off. Having two moms looking after four babies for only 15 minutes isn't as overwhelming as one mom looking after two.
10. Doorway upper-body stretch
New moms get so fixated on their midsections that they tend to ignore their upper bodies, says Malaythong. But between pregnancy and carrying and feeding baby, your shoulders can roll forward and become rounded. What you need to get your posture back is a good stretch. Stand in a doorway, place your hands on the moldings at shoulder height and, staying in place, begin to walk your hands up the frame of the door. Hold for a few seconds at the height of the stretch, then release.
* Be sure to get the green light for exercise from your doctor before beginning any activity.
Plus, More from The Bump:
[10-Minute Workouts While Baby Naps
[20 Ways to Eat Better
[Fun Ways to Lose the Baby Weight