Most mums don’t have the time or money to go to a gym or hire a nanny to care for their baby whilst they follow a post pregnancy exercise plan which can make it difficult to tone up your post pregnancy body when you decide to lose the baby weight.
Although weight loss is 80% about getting the right diet and nutrition, following a sensible exercise plan can really speed up your weight loss as well as help to tone the areas that are not as firm as they one were.
The other great point about exercise is that it will help to strengthen your body so that it makes it slightly easier to look after your baby. As all mums know, looking after a baby is hard work. If the sleep deprivation doesn’t get you feeling like a zombie then the increasing weight of your baby is sure to make you feel like a weight trainer in training. I know this from experience where my 9 month old baby is nearly 13kg and I am constantly lifting him and picking him up and it really takes it out of you physically – plus I should add he still wakes a couple of times a night!
But if you have a strong upper body it makes the constant lifting and carrying easier and prevents injury. A recent study by Tresillian showed that on average a mum of a nine month old was lifting a tonne a day which was made up of picking their baby up around 90 times a day for naps, feeding, changes, cuddles and play time – and who said being a stay at home mum was easy!!!!
So, the key point is to build your strength through exercise and training and the fantastic Jenny Dugard from Body Beyond Baby has put together her top three exercises to strengthen the upper body
Top 3 Exercises to Strengthen your upper body by Jenny Dugard
1) The Cobra
This exercise can be done by anyone anywhere and is great for improving posture by strengthening your upper back muscles (think between shoulder blades)
· Start lying face down on the ground, hands by your sides and palms faced down
· Take a big breath in, on the breath out draw shoulders back and down
· Squeeze your should blades together as you start to raise your upper body off the floor
· Hands then come off and turn thumbs up to the sky
· Keep your lower body nice and relaxed and really concentrate on squeezing shoulder blades together whilst keeping traps nice and relaxed.
· You shouldn’t feel this exercise in your lower back – if you do don’t come quite so high off the ground with your chest.
· Perform 10 reps holding for 3 seconds at the top each time
· Also keep in mind if you are breastfeeding – do this after you have fed and stop should you feel any discomfort
We have added a resistance band to strengthen the upper back muscles (Rhomboids) further whist also bringing the biceps into the equation too. Remember though to put your mind in the muscle and activate through the back so as to ensure biceps don’t do ALL the work.
· Begin by wrapping your resistance elastic around something static and firm
· Bend your knees slightly, keep shoulders down and chest up
· Start with hands face down and arms stretched out in front of you
· As you breathe out draw your shoulder back and down (as in the cobra)
· Squeeze your shoulder blades together, then begin to bend your arms and bring the handle into just below rib height
· Twist your hands so they face inwards at the end point
· Slowly release back to your starting position
· Complete 2-3 sets of 12 reps – you should find the last 2-3 reps challenging, if you are getting through 12 very easily you should use a heavier elastic or take a step backwards to increase the resistance
3) Push – ups
An oldie but a goodie – you can’t get past a push up to increase strength through your chest and triceps whilst also challenging your core strength. Pushups can be performed on your knees or toes or with hands on a raised surface at the beginning.
· Begin lying face down on the ground put your hands in line with your chest (palms to underwire)
· Rock back onto your knees to pick yourself up and find a strong position either on your knees or toes where your shoulders are over your hands.
· Make sure there is a straight line between shoulders and knees (and feet if on toes)
· Bend your elbows and lower your chest all the way to the ground (if you can’t get that far down to start don’t worry but this is your goal)
· Put your mind in your chest muscles and push through to bring you back to your starting position
· Repeat 2-3 sets of 12 reps
· You should not feel anything through your lower back – if you do tuck your pelvis underneath and re-assess the line between your shoulders and knees and drop from your toes to your knees to make it easier at this time
Thank you to Jenny from Body Beyond Baby for her top exercises!