Doctors recommend waiting six weeks before resuming vigorous activity. Check with your doctor before starting this program.
Hollywood’s leading ladies somehow manage to make postpartum weight loss look easy. How was it possible that Sarah Jessica Parker had her figure back so soon after giving birth to her son, James?
The truth is, Hollywood moms have to work very hard to get their bodies back into shape. They get plenty of help from personal trainers, of course, but just like the rest of us, they also have to start slowly to develop a routine that is safe, effective and sustainable.
Here’s a peek at the workouts of five celebrity moms who followed healthy postpartum exercise plans, plus a workout designed by Los Angeles trainer Rob Parr, who helped Madonna, Demi Moore and Lisa Vidal (ER and The Division) get back into shape after having babies. “‘Be consistent’ is the most important tip I give all my clients,” Parr says.
Easy for him to say, huh? Vidal, pictured here doing our celebrity postpartum workout, is a mother of three. She gained 40 pounds during her first two pregnancies and “only 32” in her third. Her secret to shedding the pounds? “Yes, I see my trainer, but mostly it’s brisk walks with the kids and the baby in the jogging stroller, and throwing in crunches and leg lifts in my trailer.”
the (New-Mom) workout
Do 1 set of each exercise in the order listed. Start with 10–15 repetitions of each, progressing to 25 reps. When you can complete the recommended number of reps, add another set, resting 60 seconds in between sets.
Frequency: Do this program 3 days per week with a day off in between. On non-strength-training days, do 20–45 minutes of cardio. If you’re short on time, walk for 10–20 minutes.
Warm-up/cool-down: Begin and end your workout with a brisk 5-minute walk while doing arm and shoulder circles. Complete the workout by stretching your major muscles, holding each stretch for 30 seconds without bouncing.
1. STEP-UP Stand facing an 8- to 12-inch step. Place your right foot on the center of the platform, knee bent, your left foot on the floor, heel lifted, toes pointing forward. Place your hands on your hips or hold a dumbbell on each shoulder. Contract your abs to keep your torso upright [A]. Keeping your right knee over your ankle, push off your left foot, straightening legs to stand on top of the step; lift your left knee to hip height [B]. Step down with your left foot, keeping your heel lifted. Complete reps, then switch legs. Weight: none or 3–8 pounds in each hand. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and calves.
2. PLIÉ SQUAT Stand with feet farther than hip-width apart and turned out comfortably, legs slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell vertically, cupping the top end in both hands, arms straight so the dumbbell hangs in front of your body. Contract your abs and squeeze your shoulder blades down and together [A]. Maintain position and bend both knees, lowering hips as much as you can without shifting forward or backward [B]. Straighten to starting position and repeat. Weight: 8–10 pounds. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks.
3. SEATED BENT-OVER ROW Sit on the edge of a chair or bench, knees bent and over ankles, feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, then bend forward at your hips, keeping your back straight, until your chest is close to your thighs; let your arms hang directly below your shoulders, palms facing in. Maintaining this position, squeeze your shoulder blades back and down, then bend your elbows up and back, bringing weights toward your lower rib cage (shown). Straighten arms to starting position and repeat. Weight: 5–8 pounds in each hand. Strengthens upper and middle back, rear shoulders and biceps.
4. BALL BRIDGE Lie on the floor with your lower legs and heels on top of a stability ball, legs straight, arms flat on floor, palms down. With abs contracted, press your heels into the ball and lift your hips and lower back off the floor so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to heels [A]. Holding this position, bend your knees, rolling the ball toward you [B]. Push the ball away, then lower your body to the floor and repeat. Strengthens abs, back, buttocks and hamstrings.
5. AB CRUNCH Lie faceup on the floor, knees bent and feet flat. Place fingers, unclasped, behind your head, elbows wide. Inhale, then exhale, pulling abs in as if to press your navel to the floor; hold for 2 seconds, then release and repeat 15 times. Repeat the contraction and lift head and shoulder blades off the floor (shown), pause, then lower and repeat 15 times. Strengthens abs.
6. PUSH-UP Kneel at arm’s distance from a 4- to 8-inch-high step and place your hands on the platform farther than shoulder-width apart, arms straight and toes on the floor. Contract abs, drawing your tailbone down and walk knees back so your body forms a straight line from head to knees. Bend your elbows, lowering chest toward the step until elbows align with shoulders (shown). Push back to starting position and repeat. Strengthens chest, front shoulders and triceps.
5 ways to lose
the baby fat
1. Start moving slowly but surely>> Instead of envisioning yourself doing a marathon or lifting heavy weights, picture taking a 10-minute walk around the block with your baby. “Most new moms think they are too tired to exercise, but what they don’t realize is that it will give them energy and help their recovery,” says Beverly Hills, Calif., OB-GYN Ruth Cousineau, M.D. “Talk to your doctor about your exercise plan, especially if you’ve had any medical issues or a Cesarean section. Start gently, then gradually build up your strength to do more.”
2. Avoid setbacks>> Remember to take care of yourself. “Women forget to think about their own bodies since they’re always thinking about the baby,” says Gail Pekelis, P.T., of Women’s Physical Therapy Rehabilitation in Beverly Hills, Calif. “When you’re taking care of a baby, your body is constantly pulled forward and strained, so it’s essential to focus on proper body mechanics. Learn how to correctly bend over
the crib—contract your abs and lift using your legs, not your back—and notice the position of your neck, back and shoulders while you’re nursing,” Pekelis says. “Take the extra minute so you are not in pain later.”
3. Eat right and often>> Experts advise not going on a diet right after giving birth; but to lose the pregnancy weight you do need to start monitoring your calorie intake. (Note: If you’re nursing, you need close to 2,700 calories per day.) The easiest way to do this is to cut out all junk foods and focus on fresh, healthful ones. And by eating small, frequent meals throughout the day you will keep your energy up.
4. Get enough sleep>> It may seem impossible with a newborn in the house, but do try to rest as much as possible so that you have some energy and you’re not tempted to turn to sweets or fatty foods for a pick-me-up.
5. Find a buddy>> Go online, check community bulletin boards, do whatever you can to find workout partners. Social contact with other women, as well as simply getting out of the house, will do wonders for your mood.
‘You have to keep reminding yourself, “I just had a baby,” and relax. It’s going to be all right; you will lose the weight. Respect what your body just went through.’
— LISA VIDAL