Around two weeks postpartum, add these exercises to your routine.
3. Glute Bridge: Lie faceup on the floor with your heels on the edge of a chair so your knees are bent and directly above your hips. Raise your hips off the floor by first contracting your abs, then buttocks, until your torso forms a straight line. Lower by releasing hips without arching spine. Do 2 sets of 8–12 reps. When you can do 2 sets of 12 reps, keep feet in the same position but move farther away from the chair. Strengthens abs, buttocks and hamstrings.
4. Back Bridge: Kneel on the floor, arms under your shoulders and knees under hips. Contract abdominals so your body forms one straight line from head to hips. Maintaining this neutral position, extend your left leg behind you at hip-height, keeping hips square. Maintaining your balance and with your abs tight, extend your right arm in front of you at shoulder height. Hold for at least 5 seconds, using ab muscles to maintain back position. Lower arm and then leg; repeat on other side. Continue to alternate sides, working up to 5–8 reps on each side. Strengthens abs, upper and lower back muscles, shoulders and buttocks.
5. Starting Lunge: Stand next to a chair, holding onto it with your right hand. Separate feet into a lunge position, left foot in front of right, hip-width apart. Contract abs. Bend both knees, lowering torso toward the floor. Straighten legs and repeat for reps before switching legs. Start with 1 set of 8–12 reps on each side; work up to 2 alternating sets of 12. Strengthens buttocks, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves.
The Next Steps: 6 Weeks Postpartum and Beyond
The following 6 exercises are designed to strengthen and tone all of your muscles for an effective and efficient total-body workout. If you’ve been using the “First Steps” exercises consistently, you can do this program 3–4 times a week, with a day off in between. Otherwise, start with 2 workout days a week and add a day or two when you’re ready (and remember to get your doctor’s OK before beginning).
1. Easy Plié: Rest hands on hips and stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, toes and knees turned out. Keep torso erect, abs pulled in and heels on the floor as you slowly lower your torso. Make sure your knees don’t extend beyond your toes. Rise up slowly to starting position; repeat. Do 2–3 sets of 15 reps. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks.
2. Step-Ups: Stand with feet hip-width apart in front of a step that is 6–8 inches high. Step up onto the center of the platform with your left foot, followed by your right foot. Step down with the left foot; tap your right foot on the ground, then step up with it, followed by the left foot. Do 25–50 alternating step-ups. Strengthen quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and calves.