Are you looking for an easy postpartum workout you can do from home?
You’re in the right place.
In this article, we’ll go over a simple workout that uses only 4 exercises.
You can do this workout if you’re a complete beginner or if you are experienced.
Alright, let’s start toning your muscles and burning that stubborn baby fat!
Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.
Ok, moving on.
Postpartum Exercise Guidelines
So should you even be working out postpartum in the first place?
There are very few reasons for you not to.
The postpartum is such an important time for you to take care of yourself.
Even ACOG, (the American College of OBGYN) recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week.
The good news is…
You could begin some type of exercise just a few days after delivery.
Unfortunately, many women are afraid to exercise after having a baby.
But you shouldn’t be.
In fact, there’s one type of exercise that you should be doing more regularly.
It just so happens that this is the exercise most women avoid.
Which exercise am I talking about?
Women Need To Focus More On This Type Of Exercise
Are you afraid of getting bulky from working out?
A lot of women are.
That’s why most women stay away from resistance training.
I actually used to be afraid of it too.
But it’s one of the best things you can do for your body!
What is resistance training actually?
Resistance training refers to exercising with some type of weight.
Common examples of resistance include dumbbells, resistance bands, exercise machines, or bodyweight exercises (aka calisthenics).
But here’s the thing:
It’s very difficult for us women to get bulky from resistance training.
Don’t let the fear of something that is unlikely to happen, keep you from experiencing the benefits that resistance training has to offer.
In fact, The American Heart Association recommends 2 days of resistance training in addition to the 150 minutes of weekly aerobic exercise for all adults.
Men and women.
So please don’t be afraid of weights.
Let me show you how to get started.
The Most Important Thing You Need For Resistance Training To Work
Hopefully, I have convinced you to try exercising with resistance.
But to have the most benefit, the resistance has to challenge you.
That is the only way to strengthen all of your beautiful muscles.
Strengthening and developing your muscles is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body- especially postpartum.
Strong muscles = more lean mass, which = faster metabolism.
That is the secret to getting the ‘toned’ look.
Cute little pink dumbbells are cute and all, but… they likely won’t do anything for you or your body.
You have to actually get stronger.
And I’m going to show you how.
But before we begin, you must wait for your body to heal before doing anything strenuous. One way to be sure is to…
Get clearance from your doctor first
Your doctor or healthcare provider will always see you for a postpartum visit. In general, this visit happens about 6 weeks after you deliver.
I wholeheartedly recommend that you wait approximately 6 weeks before doing the workout below. Particularly because it is a workout that focuses on strength and on helping you to develop lean muscle.
Be sure to talk to your provider before doing any type of workout.
If you had an uncomplicated delivery, and you are healing well, you will likely get clearance between 6-8 weeks.
Listen To Your Body
My last piece of advice is to always listen to your body. You may feel ready to do this postpartum workout sooner than 6 weeks.
Or maybe not.
Some women don’t feel ready to exercise for about 8-10 weeks.
The most important thing is that you listen to your body and take things slow. If anything causes pain, then STOP!
If something doesn’t feel right, then STOP! Nothing is ever worth injuring yourself.
Everything should feel natural, but challenging.
Okay. Are you ready?
An Easy & Effective Postpartum Workout Plan At Home
So as I mentioned before – this is not a typical low-intensity workout.
I want you to get real results for the time you are investing.
Doing a lot of repetitions with 2 lb weights probably won’t help you much.
This workout will help you tone up and get rid of your baby fat.
The Major Components Of An Effective Postpartum Workout
There are hundreds of exercises that you can choose to build a workout.
The good news is, you do not need 100 exercises. In fact, you don’t even need 10 exercises.
You can achieve amazing results by doing only four exercises.
Those four exercises are:
- A Push
- A Pull
- A Knee Flexion
- A Hip Extension
As a bonus, the fifth exercise you can include is a core exercise.
You are a busy mother. You do not have a lot of time on your hands.
That’s why I hand-selected the best exercises for you.
These are the exercises you will find in this program.
Are you ready?
Let’s start the workout with a warm-up.
Before doing any kind of exercise, it is important that you do a proper warm-up
The warm-up serves a few purposes
- it increases your body’s temperature
- It gets your heart rate up to improve blood flow to your body
- It promotes circulation to your muscles
- It prepares your mind and your joints for physical activity
Warmups don’t have to take a long time nor be complicated.
Here is a simple 5-minute warmup you can do to get yourself ready for the workout.
Repeat the exercises in this warm-up as many times as you’d like but remember, your warm-up should not than longer than 5 minutes.
Now let’s get to the exercises themselves.
You can do these exercises at home, or at the gym.
The Weighted Squat
For the very first exercise in our postpartum workout; we are going to do squats.
But we will do them with resistance.
You should be comfortable doing regular bodyweight squats before doing this exercise.
If not you can learn how to squat in my post here.
This is what the exercise should look like.
The weighted squat will help tone your legs: specifically your quadriceps (front thighs) and your adductors (the inner thighs).
If you are at the gym, you can do them with a barbell if you feel comfortable.
To increase the difficulty even more, use one of the Postpartum Trainer’s Hip Resistance Bands.
The most important thing is that your squats shouldn’t be easy.
Start with a weight that you can comfortably do. As time goes on, I want you to gradually increase the weight or the resistance.
I want you to do 10 to 12 repetitions for three total sets. Rest two minutes in between each set
On a scale of 1-10, your sets should be 7/10 in intensity.
I have also developed a safe and effective postpartum squat challenge, if you are looking to build and develop your legs and glutes.
For this next exercise, you are going to do pike pushups.
The good news is, your body will serve as your resistance. You won’t need to use dumbbells or backpacks.
Here’s what the exercise looks like.
The pike push-up will help tone your arms: particularly your shoulders and your triceps.
If it’s too difficult, you can do it from a kneeling position, or with your knees bent.
If it’s too easy, you can make it more challenging by elevating your feet on a chair.
Aim for a 7/10 intensity.
I want you to do 8-10 repetitions for three total sets. Rest three minutes in between each set.
Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts
The third exercise in this postpartum workout is the single-leg dumbbell deadlift.
This exercise is a combination of a squat and a deadlift, which will strengthen your hips and all of the muscles in your legs.
Here is what the exercise looks like.
Aim for a 7/10 intensity.
Do 10-12 repetitions per leg for 3 total sets. Rest 2 minutes between each set.
The fourth exercise is the row. This is the pull exercise in the routine.
The row will strengthen your upper back muscles, your biceps, and your posterior shoulders.
There are two variations you can do:
The inverted row – which is more effective but requires a gym, for the bent-over row which you can do at home.
This is what the inverted row looks like at a gym and at home.
Here is what it looks like.
In order to make the bent-over row more, effective, you need to do more repetitions.
If you are doing the inverted row:
Do 10 repetitions per set. Do 3 total sets with 3 minutes rest between sets.
If you are doing the bent-over row:
I want you to do 15-20 repetitions per set. Do 3 total sets with 3 minutes rest between sets.
Bonus Core Exercise: The Hollow Body Hold
The last exercise in our postpartum workout is the hollow body hold.
This exercise will help strengthen and restore your core muscles.
It’s actually very simple.
All you have to do is lie on tour back and maintain a hollowed position.
You do this by flattening your low back against the floor, with your arms overhead and legs extended.
Here’s what it looks like.
To make the exercise more challenging, hold on to a weight in your hands overhead.
Alternatively, you can hold a weight between your feet as well.
Hold this position for 20 seconds. Do 3 total sets with 2-3 minutes of rest between sets
Other Postpartum Workout Questions
Now, I want to just go over a quick Q&A regarding working out postpartum.
What Are The Benefits of Postpartum Exercise?
So what are the benefits of exercising postpartum?
The top three benefits are
- stress relief
- development of under-active muscles
- fat loss
- strengthening of bones and joints
First and foremost- exercise is a great form of stress relief.
This is especially important postpartum, which can be a little stressful.
Or a lot stressful!
Exercise has been shown to help boost your mood, improve blood flow to your organs, improve your breathing, and help you sleep better.
Exercise also has the other obvious benefit of developing your muscles, which is a big factor in fat loss.
Lastly, regular exercise can help strengthen your bones and joints. This is important for all women because it lowers the risk of osteoporosis.
How Long Do You Have To Wait To Workout After Giving Birth?
If we are talking about resistance training, it depends on a few factors. Namely,
- the type of delivery you had,
- any postpartum complications you experienced, and
- your exercise activity before you delivered
In general, you will have to wait 4-6 weeks after a vaginal delivery, and 6-12 weeks If you had a c-section.
It is much harder for your body to recover from a c-section as you have several incisions that need to heal.
With that said, if you were very active before delivering- you may be ready to exercise sooner. If you are ready to exercise sooner, be sure to get clearance from your doctor and have a look at these postpartum exercises you could perform prior to 6 weeks.
Your doctor should be able to give you an individualized time frame.
But resistance strength training isn’t the only type of exercise you can do.
Why Do You Have To Wait 6 Weeks To Exercise After Birth?
Because your body goes through many changes during pregnancy and the postpartum.
First off, you need to heal from the delivery itself. You may have vaginal lacerations, an episiotomy, or a C-section incision.
Second of all, your body will still have high levels of relaxin circulating. This hormone creates laxity in your bones and joints to help your body accommodate a growing pregnancy.
Exercising too aggressively with lax joints can increase the risk of injury.
Lastly, your core and your pelvic floor will be weak. Those need to be strengthened first.
What Should I Look Out For When Exercising After My Delivery?
So how do you know if you started exercising too soon?
I have an entire post on the risks of exercising too soon postpartum.
In short, things you should look out for include
- Urinary Incontinence
What Is The Best Exercise Immediately After Pregnancy?
So what are the best exercises you can do right after pregnancy?
The best ones are kegel exercises, deep diaphragmatic breathing, and posterior pelvic tilts.
You can check them out on my post on pelvic exercises.
How Can I Tone My Stomach After Having A Baby?
I just wanted to quickly touch on this topic.
A common mistake is to think that doing direct ab flexion exercises like sit-ups will help you tone your core.
This is not true.
In fact, your core muscles will likely be separated right after pregnancy, and you want to AVOID sit-ups and crunches.
Instead, you need to do exercises that activate tour deep core muscles.
Particularly the transverse abdominis muscles.
You can check out my post on how to do ab exercises post-pregnancy to learn more.
Anything Else I Should Be Doing To Maximize My Postpartum Workout?
Yes, three things:
Make Sure You
- Try and get some quality sleep: This is obviously easier said than done. Just do your best 🙂
- Hydrate: Drinking water is of utmost importance at all stages of life. Aim to drink at least 4-6 cups of water every day
- Nutrition: Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as some healthy omega 3 fatty acids. These can be found in fish, walnuts, avocados, nuts, and seeds. For more information on postpartum nutrition check out my post: How to Get Rid of Baby Fat.
For something more comprehensive check out The Postpartum Trainer’s Nutrition Guide.
When Can I Return To Lifting Weights Or High-Intensity Training?
This postpartum workout is considered a weight training strength program.
If you are able to do this postpartum workout, you can start doing more intense workouts as you feel ready.
Be sure to check out my post on lifting weights in the postpartum period.
You got this!
Final Thoughts On The Best Postpartum Workout
In summary, I believe that most women should add resistance training to their postpartum routine.
However, it is important that you take it slow and listen to your body.
The good news is, you only have to focus on four different exercises to see great results.
Okay, momma. That’s it for today.
What do you think of this workout?
Have you done resistance training before?
Comment below and let me know!
Other Articles on Postnatal Exercise
- When and How to Start Postpartum Weightlifting
- Postpartum Kettlebell Workout
- Post C-Section Workout Plan
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Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT
Brittany N Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness expert. She holds a Masters of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.
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