A Family Affair
An all-over strengthening and shaping program that new moms can do with their babies
7. Opposite Arm and Leg Lift Begin on all fours, knees under hips and arms under shoulders. Lift and then straighten left leg to hip height and right arm to shoulder height without arching back. Lower and repeat. Work up to 8–10 reps per side, then switch sides. Strengthens back, abdominals, legs, buttocks, rear of thighs and shoulders.
8. Split Lunge Stand with right foot in front of left, the length of a long stride, feet hip-width apart, left heel lifted. Hold a chair for balance. Bend both knees so your right knee is directly over your right ankle and your left knee points down. Straighten legs. Do 10 reps and switch legs; build to 15 reps for each leg. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks.
9. Wall Sit Lean against a wall with feet hip-width apart, pointed forward. Bend knees and lower thighs to parallel position. Hold for 10-15 seconds; build to 30 seconds. Strengthens quadriceps and increases torso stability.
six-week recovery program
Do the following exercises either holding your baby or with baby placed in a front carrier on your chest.
1. Bent Knee Good Mornings Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent. Hold your baby to the middle of your chest with both hands. Support her head with 1 hand and forearm and her bottom with the other hand and arm. Contract your abdominals and squeeze your shoulder blades together, shoulders relaxed. Keeping your abs tight and back straight, bend your knees a little more as you bend forward from your hips until your back is almost parallel to the floor, still holding your baby close to your torso. Keeping knees bent, raise torso to standing position; repeat. Strengthens mid- and lower back.
2. Bent-Over Row Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent. Cradle your baby, face up, lying across forearms, palms up. Keeping abdominals contracted and back straight, bend forward from your hips until your torso is at a 45-degree angle. Straighten your arms as much as possible, still cradling baby. Using your midback muscles, bend your elbows up and back toward your waist, bringing baby toward you. Slowly straighten arms and repeat. Note: Once your baby can support her head, do this movement holding her vertically with both hands under her arms. Strengthens biceps, and mid- and lower back.
3. Sit Squats Stand with your back to the seat of a chair, feet hip-width apart, legs straight but not locked. Hold your baby to your chest either with your hands or strapped into a front carrier. Contract abdominals so your tailbone points toward the floor; squeeze shoulder blades together. Keeping your back straight and body weight back toward your heels, bend knees, lowering torso into a squat as if to sit down into the chair. When the backs of your thighs just barely touch the chair, straighten legs to starting position; repeat. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and calves.