A new baby around the house is a quiet time of adjustment for you and your family. But it needn’t be a time when your good lifestyle habits go out the window. When the dust has settled and you have your baby in a routine, be sure to make enough time for yourself by working exercise back into your day. As well as being important for you and making you feel good, exercising can actually be a pretty special time to connect with your baby.
Initially this will be just walking until you are ready to resume exercise and when your baby is physically strong enough for the rigours of exercising with you. At around 3-6 months, depending on the exercise and the strength of your baby, he should be ready to start training with you. The exercises depicted are not vigorous and are normal actions you would normally undertake when interacting and playing with you baby.
When you shop, clean, pack and unpack your car, your arms, back and legs are already working out without you even being aware of it. Lifting, holding, squatting, bending ( from the waist) are all exercises being performed that benefit your body and muscles. The number of lifts (reps), how often you do them (sets) and weight are important in your work out, but you must have a bit of a goal in mind. “I want to lose weight”, “I want to grow stronger” etc. These goals will determine how heavy you should lift, for how many sets and how long you should rest for. Aim for two to three sessions a week. Have a look below at how your sessions should be structured depending on your goals.
If you wish to improve your strength in your legs and arms:
- Lift (or squat ) with heavy weights, (no you won’t look like a man)
- 3-6 times (reps),
- 2-3 minutes rest (between sets),
- about 3-6 sets,
- 2-3 times a week.
If you wish to lose weight from your body:
The goal should more focused on keeping your heart rate at between 120-140 beats a minute for a 30 year old woman. Around the house this going to vigorous house work like vacuuming. Cycling, jogging, jumping, sit-ups, push-ups, kicking, punching, burpees, etc.
Also if you wish to lose weight, there are two clear paths you can follow. High intensity workouts (HIIT), Long Slow Distance (LSD). A few other things worth mentioning here are you should also focus your efforts on portion control, a good balanced diet to ensure you baby is getting nutrition from you and if you are breast feeding then that baby is going to suck that fat right off you! Also work with your doctor and be guided by them when you are ready to start exercise.
Long Slow distance is where you should start exercising. Doctors and nurses now start getting patients up and about sooner these days. The focus of your efforts here should be on getting mobile for 30-60 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week, getting your heart rate in the 65-75% range and gradually increasing the intensity or duration of your work out. With regards to your heart rate an average healthy women of 30 should aim for a heart rate of 125-145 beats per minute. You can measure your pulse for 15 seconds and it should be aim for between 30 – 36 beats. The intensity should start quite easily, walking on a flat ground or slight incline and gradually build it up, walking with pram, increase weight in pram, walking up steep hill etc. Always be guided by your heart rate. If you are ready start jogging to raise the intensity. Also if you choose a walking path, do some workouts at the council provided exercise stations.
High Intensity work outs are now proven to raise your metabolism for longer that just moderate exercise alone by up to nine times. HIIT is the principle of raising your heart rate to up to 90-95% of your max capacity (up to 175 bps for a 30 year old woman) for short bursts then resting for bit then raising it again. Chemicals in your body are released that facilitate bone and muscle growth which sends your metabolism through the roof! The work to rest ration should be 1:3, (10 seconds of HIIT followed by 30 seconds of rest) repeated at least 5 times and up to as many times as you feel comfortable, down to 1:2 (10 seconds exercise 20 seconds of rest) when you are feeling fitter. The rest should also be determined by your heart rate. You should resume your HIIT session when you heart rate falls to approx 135 bps. HIIT exercise should be conducted 2-3 times a week.
HIIT exercise can be sprinting in a park, tuck jumps, cycling a bike or any exercise that allows you to raise your heart rate in a short explosive burst. Note the largest muscles in the body are the legs and will be required to get that heart rate up. You won’t get into the HR zone by doing bicep curls or situps.
I’ve included the HIIT work out here for general information but obviously the theme of this blog is exercising with your baby so HIIT may not be practical unless they are content in a pram or are with a friend in the park. So jogging and using your baby as weights may be more practicle.
A baby can be used as hand weights and the following can be used as a guide for the types of exercises that can be performed.
Bicep curls. Hold you arms down straight with your baby by you waist. Feet shoulder width, engage your core. Bending your arms at the elbow, raise your baby using your biceps until you can kiss them. Ensure your head is up straight, your core is engaged and your shoulders are square and flat.
Situps. Lay down on your back, holding your baby in a kangaroo cuddle or just above your body. Raise your knees and keep your feet flat throughout the movement. Engage you core, raise your shoulders and lower back off the ground. Keep you head in a neutral and your back straight.
Pelvic Bridge. Lay down on your back, holding your baby at your waist line. Slide you feet in so you knees are a right angles. Engage you core and raise you waist off the ground. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds, less if new to this position.
Leg Extensions. Lay down flat on your back. Raise you knees so they are tucked up over your chest with your shins parallel to the ground. Place your baby on your shins, raise you feet up pivoting from the knees.Hold your baby securely so your baby doesn’t slide back towards you. (use common sense here. You’ve probably done this one when playing with them. I still do it with my 14 year old daughter.)
Leg Squats. Standing up, hold your baby in a comfortable position in your arms. Stand with legs at shoulder waste toes pointing forward. Engage core, keep back remaining upright, head up eyes forward. Lower your self to a half Squat, hold for a few seconds if you are able to and slowly return to the upright position. Focus on slow controlled movements.
Over head shoulder press. Stand holding your baby, ready to lift them straight up, feet shoulder width apart. Slowly raise you baby straight up. Focus on slow controlled movements. Stop well before you arms are straight. Keep your back straight and eyes forward.
Lunges. Standing up, hold your baby in a comfortable position in your arms. Engage your core and step one leg out. Lower you wast down but don’t allow your front knee to travel forward over your toes. Focus on your rear knee travelling to the ground. Travel as deeply and hold for as long as comfortable.
Pushups. Place your baby flat on their back on a towel on the floor. Move over them as though you were going to kiss them. Assume a push up position, arm shoulder width and knees on floor. Slowly move down until you can kiss you baby. Push away from the floor until you have reached maximum extension.
All of these exercise depicted can be done to suits your level of fitness or your desired outcome. If you wish to lose weight, focus on achieving a suitable cardiac outcome, (work until you are puffed) with shorter rests. If you are after strength or muscle gains, work with heavier weights, lower repetitions and have longer rests. Also modify you body leverage to achieve the desired weight. For example use knees instead of toes for pushups, sink to half depth squats, or pushup on incline, borrow heavier baby etc. Speak with your doctor about exercisign and focus on correctness of technique. Shoot me a question if you have any questions about the exercises.