Postpartum Workout

Let's be honest: after having a baby your body barely resembles something less-than-human, let alone what your body looked like before you got pregnant.

Your stomach is a big bowl of jello. You can't control your bladder (or pelvic muscles in general).
Your chest is abnormally large, and you body is just flabby and sore.

After having Sawyer, I felt that my body would never go back to normal. And I'm not talking about my belly. I could care less about my saggy gut, I was more worried about my pelvic muscles and how utterly useless they were.

I decided I needed to to some exercising, not because I wanted to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes, but because I wanted my body to function like a normal person!

I spoke to my midwives and they said that there are a couple of areas that need to be strengthened and stretched. Those areas are your pelvic floor and your abs.

Your abs do something interesting when they stretch out to accommodate a growing baby. It's called "diastasis." This means that the two groups of abs in your belly separate to make room for your uterus to grow outwards. After the baby is born your abs slowly move back together, but it can take a while. According to my midwives, you should wait until those groups are a finger-width apart before you start exercising your abdominal muscles. Click here for more information on diastasis

I'm guessing that men probably aren't reading this post, so I'll just be frank. My pelvic floor muscles were a wreck. I had no bladder control and the muscles were injured and super tight. I could barely spread my legs apart to stretch for certain yoga poses. It was miserable. I asked my midwives and they said Kegels can help, but too many can actually make your muscles too tight. They said to do between 10-15 per day, but not much more than that. They said I need to stretch and strengthen my pelvic floor muscles in a different way. Walking and squats were the best way to strengthen those muscles. So when I got home I dusted off this workout I have from my Miss Western Idaho years and did a little tweaking to make it benefit my postpartum body. 

This workout was created by David Kircsh, the personal trainer for Heidi Klum. He created it for her to get in shape after having babies. Perfect!
I only do one circuit at a time (one circuit only takes about 15 minutes), and I only do it 2-3 times per week. The other days I either walk or do yoga. By the way, circuit means you go through the routine once.

You really don't need to do this routine a lot to get the benefits. If you are serious about looking bikini-worthy then you'll have to do more circuits, but for the purpose of strengthening muscles after birth, one circuit at a time will do the trick.

By the way, I'm not a doctor or personal trainer. I'm just sharing what I learned in my journey of getting back into shape! Make sure you consider your own body when starting a new exercise routine :)

Heidi Klum's Bikini Boot Camp

Good Mornings

Muscle worked: Lower back

Time: 2 minutes

This is a perfect exercise to do to warm up your back muscles as you simultaneously tone and shape your lower back, hamstrings, glutes and thighs. As the name implies, you can do these first thing in the morning, as soon as you get out of bed.

A. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your hands behind your head.
B. Bend forward from the waist, keeping your legs straight and your gaze straight ahead. Keep your back flat. Once your body is perpendicular, rise back up as you exhale.

Warm up with a series of these for 30 seconds before moving on to the next phase.

Add a knee bend to the movement.Do the move as usual, but this time, once your torso is parallel to the floor, bend your knees and lower your butt toward the floor, finishing the movement by straightening your legs and standing up at the same time. The second part of the move -- the knee bend -- must be done slowly and carefully. Make sure to engage your glutes throughout the move by sticking your butt out as much as possible. That will take the pressure off your knees.

Distinctly David: The Good Morning is a basic lower-back warm up that can be used at all levels. At the beginner level, concentrate on getting the form down and focusing on stretching out your lower back and hamstrings. As your level of proficiency improves, you can add weight by placing a pair of light dumbbells behind your head.

Jumping Jacks

Muscles worked: Thighs and arms

Time: 1 minute

David's Platypus Walk

Muscles worked: Butt

Time: 30 seconds

This is an awfully silly looking exercise but it will get your heart pumping and quads burning.

Sit into a squatting position with your hands behind your head, your knees aligned with you toes and your butt sticking back as far as you can.

Keep your core tight and walk forward while pushing off with each heel. If you perform this correctly, you'll look like a platypus -- and your glutes and thighs will be on fire.

Make sure to sit back in your heals. Do not step too far forward or you'll stress your trailing knee.


Muscles worked: Shoulders, back, arms and abs

Time: 1 minute

You can shadowbox with or without weights. Hold light weights in each hand, and throw a series of punches. Make sure not to punch so quickly that you hyperextend your elbows or shoulders. Throughout your workout, keep your abs tight and your shoulder blades retracted. The tighter your core, the more effective shadowboxing becomes.

Try the following punches, interspersed with some knee bends, as if you were ducking an incoming punch from your shadow.
Crossover - Stand with your abs tight and your back flat. Punch your left fist out diagonally, ending at torso level in front of your right ribs. Pull back and repeat on the other side.
Uppercut - With your left elbow against your ribs and your palm turned up, punch in an upward motion, as if you were punching someone in the stomach and trying to lift him off the ground with your fist. Pull back and repeat on the other side.

PliƩ Squats with Calf Raises

Muscles worked: Butt, hips and calves

Time: 1 minute

Get in a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell between your legs. Your toes should be turned out at a 45-degree angle. Stick your butt back as you squat down, keeping your body weight in your heels. As you are sinking into the squat, bring your heels off the ground and rise off the balls of your feet. (Continue to keep your body weight back toward your heels.) Then, bring your heels back to the floor and shift your body weight back into them, squeezing your inner thighs and glutes before pressing back up.

Pay attention to your knees and lower back with this move. Don't allow your knees to jut beyond your toes. Also, don't lock them in the "up" position. If your lower back hurts, you are not keeping your abs tight enough throughout the move.

This can also be performed with someone (as shown), allowing greater stability and more range of motion.

Reverse Lunges

Muscles worked: Butt, hips, back of thighs and outer thighs

Time: 2 minutes

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your core stable and your weight on your heels. Inhale as you take a large step back with your left foot, planting and then lowering your body until both legs are at right angles. Exhale as you push up through your front heel.

Always keep your body weight in your heels, making sure to press up through your heels on the ascent. Once you get into the lunge position, pulse slightly up and down 15 to 20 times, focusing the weight from your heel into your glute.

Squat Thrusts

Muscles worked: Arms, shoulders, abs, butt, thighs, and calves

Time: 1 minute

A. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
B. Squat down and place your hands on the floor slightly in front of you.
C. Supporting your weight with your hands, kick both legs out behind you so you are in an elevated push up position.
D. Quickly tuck your legs back beneath you (returning to position B).
E. Stand up.

David's Donkey Deluxe

Muscles worked: Glutes and hips

Time: 2 minutes

A. Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Make sure your back is flat, not arched or curled. Stabilize your torso by contracting your abs. lnhale as you lift your right knee off the floor and pull it straight in toward your chest.
B. Exhale as you press your right foot back and up behind you in an arcing motion. You should feel the motion in the lower part of your buttocks. Inhale as you lower your leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor.
C. Exhale as you raise your leg again, this time bent at a 90-degree angle, pulsing your heel toward the ceiling.
D. Exhale as you straighten and raise your right leg behind you. Inhale as you lower it.
E. Exhale as you go directly into the "hydrant," bending your leg and lifting it to the side, as if you were a dog using a fire hydrant. You should feel the exercise in your buttocks and outer thigh.

Distinctly David: I like to perform all of the Donkey movements slowly and methodically. Make sure you are contracting your glutes in every move. If you feel it in your lower back, tighten your abdomen and flatten the arch in your back. If your wrists hurt in the all-fours position, hold your hands together and rest on your forearms. For additional intensity, you can use a pair of ankle weights. It's best to start with a lighter set (5 pounds) and increase as you are able.

Triceps Kickback

Muscles worked: Triceps

A. While holding a dumbbell at your side, go into a lunge stance and bend forward from the waist, making sure to keep your back straight. Bend your elbow and hold the weight so that your palm is facing forward. Rest your other hand on your thigh.
B. Exhale as you press your hand back, straightening your arm, making sure to keep your wrist locked.
C. Rotate your wrist so that your palm ends up facing behind you.
Keep your elbows close to your body throughout the move and concentrate on keeping your shoulders and upper arms motionless. If you feel this move in your lower back, your abs are not tight enough.
Abs (Callaentics)
This exercise is not part of the Bikini Boot Camp, but I have been doing this exercise since high school, as well. It had kept my abs in great shape, and helped my stomach go back to its original state within weeks of having Sawyer. Seriously, this really helps! Work up to doing 2 rounds of this video.

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