7 exercise swaps for new mums

Post Natal Pilates, Epping, 7 exercise swaps for new mums

7 exercise swaps for new mums

We understand the need to get back to exercise after you’ve had a baby, especially if you are used to being fit and have felt a bit constrained by pregnancy or have put on a few pounds.

Pregnancy and birth come with a major down side for many women. Fat.

Pregnancy hormones make our bodies attract it. Great for baby. Not so great for your thighs and tummy.

Unfortunately, when post-birth lows set in – as they so often do after a few months of sleep deprivation and plenty of ‘what just happened to my life?’ moments – self-esteem, body image and fat feelings can creep in. Getting back into shape can feel like the only bit of control we have left.

It’s at this point I see new mums reaching for bootcamps, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or signing up for marathons in a desperate attempt to lose the fat and just feel a bit better.

But your new post natal body neither needs nor is ready for these intense forms of exercise.

As an expert in post natal exercise and rehabilitation, the prospect of delicate new mum bodies (and minds) being pummelled by sprints and jump squats makes me scream. Every time I see stuff like this on Instagram I quietly cry inside.

As yet, there are no studies on the long term effects of pre or post natal exercise on your body. Most of the evidence is, quite understandably, focused on the effects on baby. But what of your joints, pelvis or pelvic floor long term? It’s a very difficult study to perform. Too many parameters over too many years.

I know what can go wrong and in the majority of cases what your body really needs (a good post natal Pilates course, a brisk walk with friends in fresh air, some butt/glute and leg strengthening and less sugar).

Often the less intense version of an exercise will be more effective because your body can do it with much better form too.

I do also appreciate the need to do something (I’ve been there and worn the 10K T-shirt), and not to appear like a kill joy on all things bouncy, I’ve devised my top 7 exercise swaps for post natal bodies so you can get your exercise in, with a decent amount of respect for your body.

1. Swap a run for a brisk walk.

It might sound really annoying but actually a slow, plod-like run is possibly the worst thing you can do for your pelvis, even if you haven’t just had a baby! DO put your trainers on and leave the house but do a brisk walk. As a guide – running should be at a speed just beyond what you can walk at anyway. You’ll still get your heart rate up and be able to go for longer if you just walk.

2. Swap crunches for Pilates

No post natal body needs or wants an abdominal crunch to get strong. Post baby is the time to ‘knit’ your abs back together. It’s time to focus on drawing in, not popping out and adding to the pressure. If you can get to a specific post natal Pilates class, try this exercise: Lie on your back with a cushion under your bottom, knees bent over your hips and feet off the floor. Focus on pressing your ribs into the mat each time you exhale. You can add to the intensity by squeezing a ball or cushion between your thighs.

3. Swap jump jacks for squats

Oh how I wish every post natal body knew the value of strong glutes. Get squatting. If you feel you need to add to the intensity, you can switch up a squat by going deeper, adding more weight, doing it on one leg or even doing it with baby. To add a bit more intensity add a knee lift at the end of each squat. You’ll soon get your heart rate up.

4. Swap planks for bent knee hovers.

Regardless of your type of birth, if you’ve had a baby you’ve had tummy trauma. If you try to plank with that going on around your middle you’ll a) get frustrated; b) do it wrong; or c) add to the trouble going on around your belly. Reduce the intensity to get a safer and much more effective exercise. From your hands and knees, hover your knees off the floor as you exhale. Imagine you have a cup on your lower back as you hover and lift your back into it. Notice how much more effective this move is than a dodgy plank.

5. Swap flipping tyres for deadlifts.

A third time mum recently told me she struggled to flip tyres at six weeks post natal. I struggled to restrain my wrath and sadness that she was being asked to do this by her personal trainer. NOOOOOOOOOO! There’s a much kinder and more effective way of training your butt and back without a tyre. It’s a deadlift. I love a one leg version because it’s really simple to get started on and is great for your inner thighs too. Start by standing on one leg and reaching to touch the floor. Add intensity by lifting a heavy handbag off the floor.

6. Swap bootcamp for boxing.

Boxing is great for new mums. There’s no jumping, you train your upper body, you get your heart rate up and it feels amazing if you’ve had a challenging day. Just don’t try it tired or you might punch someone in the face – of course you might want to do this!

7. Swap coffee and cake for a walk

It’s not technically an exercise swap but if you want to get fat quickly, sit, drink milky coffee and eat cakes or croissants. Fitness or fat loss success is about consistency not intensity, so break the mould and suggest an active meet up with friends.

And finally … do go for a bike ride or take a spin class. Do go to post natal specific classes (not just someone fit who’s had a baby). And do enjoy finding new ways to be active that include your newest family member. But above all – get some time out and enjoy a few moments of freedom.

Why most of your post natal Pilates can happen outside of your class

Want to fall in love with your mummy tummy? Read this.

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