Beautiful Mama

A surefire workout (based on Cindy Crawford'’s new video) to help get your strength and shape back after having a baby.

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No one expects you to look like a supermodel right after giving birth. But you can regain tone, strength and flexibility with this workout designed especially for new moms. The following moves were put together by Kathy Kaehler, fitness consultant to NBC’s “Today” show and author of Real-World Fitness (St. Martin’s Press, 1999), to help Cindy Crawford (and all new mothers) get back into shape in the weeks and months following childbirth. “This workout can be used by any new mom because it starts out very slowly, it’s not threatening and [is] easy to follow,” says Kathy. “Yet it’s challenging because it consists of new and traditional exercises.” You can see Kathy and Cindy in their new video, “A New Dimension: A Balanced Approach to Fitness” (Good Times Entertainment, $15; to order, call 1-877-ESTYLES or visit www.babystyle. com). It includes a no-sweat program, a slightly more challenging workout, and a core strength and cardio portion. Here, we’ve provided gentle moves that can be done in the first days after giving birth (with your doctor’s approval, of course). At six weeks postpartum, or whenever you get your doctor’s approval, you can begin with Kathy and Cindy’s core workout (“The Core 4,”), then at eight weeks add the fifth and sixth exercises. This routine will help you get in better shape for all the bending and lifting you’ll need to do as a new mom, and it’ll get your body back in prepregnancy shape quickly.

day-one moves If you’ve had a vaginal delivery with no complications, you can begin doing mild exercise the day after you’ve had your baby, with your doctor’s approval. The following exercises can help you ease back into movement and retrain muscles that were stressed during childbirth. If you have any discomfort, stop and call your doctor. Continue with these simple moves until you’re ready for more rigorous activity; then use them as a warm-up later.

1. Kegels Contract the muscles around the vagina (imagine stopping a stream of urine) and hold for l0 seconds; then slowly release. Aim for 5 sets of l0 reps at a time; do 3–4 times a day. Strengthens pelvic-floor muscles and helps prevent urinary incontinence.

2. Tilts and Bridges Lying in bed or on floor, knees bent, feet flat, inhale and expand abdomen, then contract abs as tightly as possible, pulling navel in toward your spine. At the same time, tilt pelvis upward, bringing hips toward lower ribs. Aim for at least 15 reps per day, progressing to 20–25 per day. To progress: Lift hips all the way off the floor to a bridge position until you feel a stretch in the front of your hips and thighs; hold this position for 20 seconds, then lower and repeat 4–6 times. Strengthens abdominals.

3. Cat Stretch Get down on your hands and knees with knees under hips and arms under shoulders, back straight; exhale and round spine up toward ceiling, tucking tailbone underneath you and relaxing your head and neck to stretch your back. Inhale, returning to just past neutral, arching spine slightly, head up. Do 4–6 reps. Stretches and strengthens back muscles.

4. Hamstring Stretch Lying on your back, bend one knee (keeping foot flat on the floor), then bring the other knee into your chest and place both hands behind your thigh. Keeping thigh in place, straighten leg until you feel a stretch behind your thigh. Hold for about 15 seconds; release, lowering leg. Repeat 2 times before switching legs. Stretches hamstrings.

Cindy’s get-your-body-back workout Begin with 1 set of the recommended reps. When you can do the maximum reps listed comfortably, add a second set, using the lowest reps (for example, first set: 20 reps; second set: 10 reps). Add reps again to the second set until you can do 2 sets of each exercise with the maximum reps indicated. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

the core 4 1. Card Squats Place 10–20 playing cards in a stack on the floor just in front of your toes; then stand with feet about hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and tailbone pointing down toward the floor in a neutral position. Let your arms hang naturally by your sides, contract your abdominals, and relax your shoulders. Shift your body weight back toward your heels and bend your hips and knees, lowering your torso into a squat position so your back remains straight with hips above your knees. As you lower, reach down and pick up the top card; then straighten both legs to starting position and repeat. Begin with 10 reps; build to 15, then 20. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks.

2. Card Lunges Place 10–20 playing cards about 2 feet in front of you, slightly to the left. Stand with feet hip-width apart, legs straight with knees relaxed; contract abdominals. Take a large step forward with left foot, bending knees so left knee is in line with left ankle and right knee approaches floor. As you bend, reach down with right hand and pick up top playing card, then push off front foot to straighten legs to starting position. Do reps; switch legs and position cards to the right; repeat with right leg. Begin with 10 reps, build to 15, then 20. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and calves.

3. Knee Push-Ups Kneel on the floor, placing your knees behind (not under) your hips and separated hip-width apart. Straighten arms with palms facing forward in front of each shoulder. Contract your abs and press hips forward so your spine is in one line from head to hips. Maintain this position and bend both arms, lowering torso toward the floor until your elbows and shoulders are in line. Take 2 counts to lower. Push up to starting position in 2 counts; repeat. Begin with 8 reps; progress to 12, then 15. Strengthens chest, front shoulders and triceps.

4. Abdominal Crunches Lie face-up on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your fingertips behind your head so they’re touching but not clasped. Contract your abdominals, bringing navel toward spine. Lift head, neck and shoulders off floor in 2 counts, exhaling as shoulder blades clear the floor. Lower in 2 counts and repeat. Begin with 10 reps; build to 15, then 20. Strengthens abdominals.

After 2 weeks of doing the exercises above 3–4 times per week, add the following two exercises to your routine:

5. Chair Pliés Straddle the seat of an armless chair and turn your toes and knees out to about 45 degrees; keep legs straight, torso lifted and abs contracted. Place hands on your hips. Bend both knees, lowering torso toward the chair without changing your pelvis position (keep pubic bone pointing down at the chair; don’t rotate hips backward). Straighten legs without sitting down and repeat. Begin with 15 reps; build to 20, then 25. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks.

6. One-Armed Row Stand facing the seat of a chair (if you’re tall, you can use the chair back) and separate your feet hip-width apart, with your left foot in front of your right leg. Holding a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in your right hand, bend forward from your hips and place your left hand in the front center of the chair seat. Contract your abdominals so your back is parallel to the floor, forming one straight line from your head to your hips. Let your right arm hang straight down from your shoulder, palm facing in. Squeeze your shoulder blades together; then bend your right elbow back and up toward your waist, contracting your back muscles. Keep your hips and shoulders square; don’t rotate with the lift. Straighten arms, repeat for reps, then switch arm and leg position to repeat with your left arm. Begin with 10 reps; build to 12, then 15. Strengthens middle back, rear shoulders and biceps.

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