At BodyRock, we get a lot of questions about what is safe to do after pregnancy. So we've put together a brief guide to explain what you should avoid doing while your body recovers, and what is safe to do as your body starts to crave movement again! First of all, let us say this:
Before we get into this, however, we want to remind you that High Intensity Interval Training needs to be modified for postnatal women. It is not recommended that you continue with your normal exercise routines right after giving birth.
Regardless of where you are at with your fitness, you need consult your physician orOB/GYN before starting anything like high intensity interval training (HIIT), or especially weight lifting.
High Intensity Interval Training is a very effective, fast way to lose weight and build lean muscle. In HIIT workouts the exact ratio of activity to rest may vary, but in general it is 50 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest. This rapid cycling between being "on" and "off" builds up more lactic acid in your muscles than any other activity which makes HIIT nine times more effective for burning body fat fast, and building up muscles that keep fat off for good! You can accomplish a lot in just 12 minutes, which is what makes HIIT exceptionally good for new moms. However it's very important to avoid exercising intensely for 6 weeks after giving birth. It's just not worth the risk.
Sit Ups / Russian Twists : Any move that puts extra pressure on your abdominal muscles is not recommended for Postnatal Moms. After pregnancy, you may have diastasis recti, which is the tearing and separating of your abdominal muscles along the vertical line from you groin to your sternum .This separation of your left from your right abdominal muscle groups can be aggravated by traditional ab work. You can work your core in different ways, often in ways that are a lot more effective and fun!
Heavy Weights : If you have just given birth, you definitely want to avoid lifting extra heavy weights. The strain this causes on your deep tissue muscles is great for losing intra-abdominal fatty tissue when your body is in its normal state, but really a bad idea right after giving birth. Your body needs to heal, and you can cause vaginal bleeding, or tearing of your stitches if you had a difficult birth or a cesarean birth.
Long Workouts : Long workouts can restrict blood flow to your interior organs and your reproductive system. After giving birth, you do not want to restrict blood flow to these areas of your body, because blood flow reduces swelling and bruising. The beauty of HIIT is that you do not need to do long workouts, simply because it is so effective as an exercise methodology.
Squats : Squats may be actually designed for pre- and postnatal bodies! Something about how your belly sinks down between your knees when you squat, and how the extra weight in your tummy actually strengthens your lower back, reducing lower back pain, make this the ideal post-baby move! Squat with your feet apart and your back arched, and then take stock of how you feel. If you feel good, go for 20 good squats per repetition. This is a safe move that can also tone your tummy, but won't put pressure on your abs.
Lunges : As with Squats, Lunges are great moves that help you with your agility and balance. We recommend forward Lunges, about 10 per leg. As you likely noticed, having extra weight on your tummy can throw you off balance, and Lunges can do that even without the post-baby belly! However, they are a great move because they give you a workout for your legs and glutes. Also because you are stabilizing your upper body, you get a gentle toning in your core as well.
Elevated Commandos : Holding a traditional plank is not a great move to do soon after giving birth. It puts a lot of strain on your belly, but if you find some stairs or a Riser to use, you can reduce the pressure on your belly because weight is transferred to your legs. Elevated touch planks, or "Commando" planks, means going down on your forearms on the stairs/Riser then rising back up on your palms, and repeating. Left, Right, Left, Right!
Quick Steps : Anything like jogging on the spot, fake jump rope, hustle feet, or "in and outs" (where you pretend you are jumping in and out of a tire, with alternating left and right feet) are excellent moves for post pregnancy. They will get your heart rate up quickly, burn fat fast, and make you feel refreshed and strong. As with the other moves mentioned, these will not put strain on your belly or on your interior while you are recovering from giving birth.
There is a lot of information to know about how to exercise safely after giving birth, but if you want to know the BodyRock take on this subject, we hope these basic guidelines have helped! Finally, if you are looking for a gentle yet effective way to ease back into exercising, we have a wonderful short challenge on SweatFlix called BodyRock Mom! This Live Series by Melissa Bender is an excellent introduction to getting back in the saddle. She even shows you workouts to do WITH your baby as the added weight! How cute is that? This Live Series is only available on SweatFlix.
In addition to the incredible power of watching a Mom who just gave birth show you how to get in shape, you gain access to an amazing, supportive group of thousands of women just like you, trying to sort out their diet, get in shape, and feel strong and fit. People from all over the world will give you high fives and kudos every step of the way. It's incredibly motivating! Once you post you are doing a Challenge, you better believe your friends in our support Group are going to hold you to that!
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