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You can return to your prenatal shape!

Author: Canadian Living

Family

You can return to your prenatal shape!

If you're ready to whip your body back into prebaby shape, then follow our postpartum exercise routine. Not only will you feel stronger and healthier, but you'll have more energy to keep up with your new bundle of joy. Generally, you can start exercising six weeks postpartum, but always check with your doctor first.

The schedule
Week one: perform one set of each exercise every other day.
Week two: perform two sets of each exercise every other day.
Week three: perform three sets of each exercise every other day.
Weeks four and five: perform three sets of each exercise every day.
Equipment: mat, exercise band.

The workout
1. Knees to chest
Lie on your back with knees directly above your hips and legs bent at 90 degrees, arms by your sides. Pull your navel toward your spine and flatten your back into the mat by bringing your knees to your chest; pause. Return to starting position and repeat. One set equals 10 repetitions.
What it does: Strengthens your abs.

2. Penguin walk
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your arms down at your sides, standing on an exercise band with one end in each hand. Squeeze your glutes and slide your right foot to the right. Resisting the tension, slide your left foot to the right, keeping the band taut. Continue moving to the right for 10 steps and then repeat the sequence to the left for 10 steps. One set equals 10 repetitions to each side. Note: Your feet should always be at least shoulder-width apart.
What it does: Strengthens and tones your outer thighs (abductors) and glutes.

3. Chair pose
Stand with your feet together and arms by your sides. Exhale and bend your knees to 45 degrees, keeping your back straight and your butt behind you as if you're going to sit in a chair. Inhale and stretch your arms overhead as close to vertical as possible. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, pull them toward your hips and hold for as long as you are able to, a maximum of 30 seconds. Return to starting position. One set equals 30 seconds.
What it does: Strengthens your entire body.

4. Warrior II pose
Stand with your feet wide apart, about 3-1/2 to 4 feet. Inhale and extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height. With your heels in line with each other, turn your left foot in to a 45-degree angle and your right foot out 90 degrees so that it is pointing to the side. Keeping your left leg straight, exhale and bend your right knee as far as possible without turning your hips off centre. While keeping your shoulders and hips facing forward, turn your head to look over your right hand. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. One set equals 30 seconds per side.
What it does: Strengthens your entire body.

5. Kiss the baby push-ups
Lay your baby on his back on a mat or blanket, kneel at his feet and lean over him, placing your hands on either side of him. Keeping your hips over your knees, your shoulders over your hands, your fingers forward and your back flat, lower your body down toward your baby by bending your elbows. While down, give your baby a kiss, then return to start position. One set equals 12 repetitions.
What it does: Strengthens and tones your chest and triceps.

6. Baby birddog
Lay your baby on her back on a mat or blanket and kneel over her on all fours, flattening your back like a tabletop. Without tipping your hips, slowly extend your left arm straight in front and your right leg straight behind until they are parallel to the ground. Hold for a few seconds and return to all fours. Complete 10 reps before switching to your right arm and left leg. One set equals 10 reps per side.
What it does: Strengthens your deep spine stabilizers.

7. Baby calf raises
Sit in a chair with your feet together flat on the ground and your baby facing you on your lap; hold her under her armpits. Raise your heels up, keeping toes on the ground -- your baby is your resistance. Hold for one second, lower and repeat. To get a stronger stretch in your calf muscles, rest the balls of your feet on a telephone book and let your heels drop to the ground. One set equals 25 reps.
What it does: Tones and strengthens your calves.

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