8 Tough Moves for New Moms
This metabolism-boosting workout will sculpt necessary muscle.
Even the fittest women may find themselves with weaker muscles after having a baby. “You lose muscle mass when you’re pregnant but heavy weights build it back—weight lifting is the most efficient way to train,” says Long Island, New York–based Equinox group fitness instructor, Jennifer Tsiolis.
Way beyond aesthetics, functional strength is crucial for your new role. It takes powerful legs to squat down to pick up a little one; your arms and shoulders work overtime to heft heavy gear; and a strong core helps prevent back pain and slumped posture.
This workout, created by Tsiolis, shores up those muscle groups with compound exercises done with heavy resistance. And women who have recently given birth can go harder than they may think. “It’s possible to begin low-intensity exercise within days of a vaginal delivery with no complications, and you can slowly progress to vigorous exercise, like this, at six weeks,” says Fred Guckes, MD, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland. (If you had a C-section, Guckes says you probably won’t be cleared for any type of exercise until the six- or eight-week mark.) Though, every person and delivery is different, so get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routine.
The workout: Do 3 sets of each exercise in order, resting 30 seconds between sets. Perform 15 reps on the first set, 12 on the second, and 10 on the last, increasing the resistance every set. “The weight should be heavy enough that the last two reps of every set are very hard,” says Tsiolis. Catch your breath for 1 minute between every exercise. For best results, perform this workout 3 times a week (try to increase the weight each week) and do cardio twice a week.