The Long Road Back to Pre-Pregnancy Athleticism and the Exercise Routine to Get it Done

Getting back into shape after having Atlas was a worry that took form as soon as I was put on exercise restriction in my third trimester. This past summer I got to see my husband and his family compete in the Beaver Creek Triathlon and, though I would never complete an entire one on my own (you have to be able to swim and ride a bike for that hahah) I did express a desire to compete in the relay with him. We’ve been planning on this race for several months now, but since Atlas has arrived I’ve found the prospect of running 7 miles up a mountain a bit more daunting. 

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I know that many women struggle with this thought after they have delivered their babies and its perfectly understandable. You go from minimal exercise and eating every dessert your heart (or in my case I blamed the baby’s appetite) desires to needing to shape up in a seemingly short period of time.

After doing some research and after evaluating my own body and how I was feeling I opted for a slow progressing exercise plan that would allow me to begin working out sooner but would keep my progress restricted so that I was less likely to hurt myself or hinder my progress. Keep in mind this plan was developed for me, so please use it only as a guideline. How quickly you work out after your delivery and how intensely you work out after your 6 week check up is entirely dependent on your BODY, not your WILL or your EXPECTATIONS. Be kind to yourself, you really did just have the marathon of your life.

Weeks 1-5

-Walking: start at 20 minutes and slowly work up to 1 hour, walking at a 20 minute/mile pace.

-Stretching: gentle stretches of the arms, legs, back and chest. remember that your body has spent the last 3 months producing relaxin, making your joints and ligaments extra stretchy. taking advantage of this extra stretchiness only hinders your progress so take it easy. yoga specially for postpartum healing is a great stretching regiment that will keep you from extending yourself too far.

-Kegels: as soon as you feel up for it, begin your kegels again (I know… you’re probably sick of them already). this will help with the leaking that can occur once you do get into a more intense exercise regiment.

-Abdominal Tightening: this is done by simply tightening the abs that pull your belly button toward your spine. your abs took quite the beating these last 9 months so don’t jump right back into sit ups and crunches, start slow.

-Planks: if after doing a few weeks of the abdominal tightening you feel up for it, try doing planks and side planks, beginning with just 15 seconds each and working up to a minute.

Monday through Friday: walking

Everyday: stretching, kegels(3 times a day, elevator style for 5-10 rounds), abdominal tightening(3 times a day, tightening 5 times and working up to holding the contraction for 30 seconds), and planks

Here are some stretches and yoga poses I found using your baby sling (sweet!), but there are a lot of great Youtube options as well for postpartum yoga!

Week 6:

After your 6 week “go ahead” from your doctor, try stepping it up a bit.

-15 minutes of light circuit training

-15 minute HIIT work out

Monday: light circuit training, walking 1 hr

Tuesday through Thursday: walking 1 hr

Friday: HIIT, walking 1 hr

Everyday: stretching, kegels, abdominal tightening, and planks

Here is an example of a great post pregnancy circuit routine. The same blogger has a HIIT workout as well. I like her workouts because they are crafted for moms, both pregnant and postpartum. Many of the workout programs out there are not friendly to the woman carrying a baby or having just delivered one, so be careful which program you choose.

 

Week 7:

-30 minutes of light circuit training

-2 15 minute HIIT work outs

Monday: circuit training, walking 1 hr

Tuesday and Thursday: walking 1 hr

Wednesday: HIIT and walking 1 hr

Friday: HIIT and walking 1 hr

Everyday: stretching, kegels, abdominal tightening, and planks

Week 8:

-30 minutes of light circuit training

-2 15 minute HIIT workouts

-30 minutes of running

Monday: circuit training, walking 1 hr

Tuesday: running 30 minutes

Wednesday: HIIT, walking 1 hr

Thursday: walking 1 hr

Friday: HIIT, walking 1 hr

Everyday: stretching, kegels, abdominal tightening, and planks

Week 9:

-30 minutes of light circuit training

-2 15 minute HIIT workouts

-2 sessions of 30 minutes of running

Monday: circuit training, walking 1 hr

Tuesday: running 30 minutes

Wednesday: HIIT, walking 1 hr

Thursday: running 30 minutes

Friday: HIIT, walking 1 hr

 

By this point you can start to craft your workout routine for what you’re trying to accomplish. This can include weight loss, athleticism, etc. For me, I would like to run the olympic length portion of a triathlon so I am going to begin with speed workouts on the track, interval training on the treadmill, and then timed runs outdoors to work on my distance per X amount of time. I will also continue to do my kegels to prevent the dreaded ‘leak’ and work in a normal ab routine. Stretching is important no matter your goals so whether its 10 minutes before bed or a daily yoga session, KEEP STRETCHING.

Another thought: if you are breastfeeding be sure to feed your little one BEFORE you work out. Studies show that working out to a point of exhaustion can decrease your milk supply for up to an hour and a half after stopping.

Once my 9 weeks are up I will post another article on my training plans for the triathlon and how to do that with an infant, but in the meantime I need to stick to the plan and listen to my body. The worst thing you can do for yourself at this point is push it. This will only set you further behind and make your feel worse, so again I stress, this plan is an OUTLINE and the key is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

Questions, comments?

XOXO

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