I was hoping you could help me with a quick, effective routine to do while on maternity leave. I don’t have much equipment and am hoping to do mostly body weight stuff. I am 16 weeks postpartum. I had a C-section and have been cleared to resume normal exercise.
I have access to: a spin bike at home (I’ve been doing a couple 20-30-minute classes/week via the peloton app), a couple exercise bands, as well as a 6 lb medicine ball and a pair of 8 lb weights. I am open to grabbing a couple more affordable pieces if needed.
A post-partum exercise routine doesn’t really vary too much from a regular workout. If you have been cleared by your doctor to begin a normal exercise routine again and you don’t have any other complications from your delivery then you are like any other person who is getting back into fitness after some time off.
You will want to consider the fact that you haven’t pushed yourself in a while so starting out slow and easy will be important and make modifications where you need to. You know your body so listen to it. If there is pain, it is your body telling you something needs to change, so be mindful of your body’s messages. Places where you will need to start slower than others are during core work and anything high impact. Many women suffer with bladder incontinence post babies so having to eliminate the jumping is completely normal.
The worst thing you could do is put yourself through some crazy HIIT workout and then be unable to move for a week. Since you are already riding your spin bike, start by adding just some simple strength movements after your Peloton workout. Do 3 sets of 10 pushups from your knees with a set of dead bug core movements in-between each and then loop one of your bands around something sturdy so you have the ability to pull both handles and add in a few sets of 20 squats with a band row with a 20 seconds front plank between each set. Finish with using your 8-pound weights for a set of bicep curls, overhead triceps presses and shoulder presses. Check here for my video on how to do a proper abdominal curl as well as here for some at home Pilates exercises and here for a plank set, and use these to help rebuild your core. Do that 2 or 3 times a week for 2 or 3 weeks. If you are pain free and ready for more add in your HIIT workouts.
HIIT workouts are great because they get your heart rate up, your body sweating and they don’t take up much space or require a lot of equipment. You will want to do a few rounds for maximum benefit and attempt to push yourself just as hard in your last set as you do in your first. There are many different varieties of HIIT workouts but to keep it simple you will do 8 exercises for 45-60 seconds each, all in a row, and go through the routine 3 times. For the first couple of weeks allow yourself 10-15 seconds between each exercise to recover but as you become more fit try and go from one to the next without resting. After you finish all 8 exercises, hop onto the bike for 3-5 minutes of cardio. Your cardio can be light and used as an active recovery or you can add intensity and keep the sweat pouring.
There are a lot of fitness apps that you can download that will provide workouts for you but if you want to keep it simple, here are some strategies on how to design your own workout. It’s always nice to understand how to do it yourself, so no matter how much time or equipment you have available to you, you will be able to create your own workout.
1. choose your exercises so that after all 8, your entire body has been challenged, from top to bottom. An example of this would be:
- pushups, squats with a shoulder press, medicine ball straight arm plank with an elbow/knee touch, front lunge with a band row, renegade rows, back lunge with bicep curls, forearm plank, seated medicine ball rotations (watch the video at the end of this post for a visual)
2. add in different types of movements into the routine. For example, have some exercises that are for strength (pushups, shoulder presses, etc.), exercises that are for agility and cardio (lateral skaters, burpees, mountain climbers but be mindful of jumping if it makes you pee), exercises that work many parts at once (lunge bicep curl, lunge with a band row) and exercises that target your core (forearm plank, renegade row, straight arm plank).
3. add in movements that move your body in different directions such as side to side, forwards and backwards as well as exercises that keep you still and challenge your balance.
There is no wrong way to build your own HIIT workout. You will want to keep the exercises simple yet challenging and easy to set up, so you do not spend a lot of time transitioning from one exercise to the next. Again, listen to your body and do what feels good and right. Focus on strengthening your back and your glutes and slowly rebuilding your core.