A Family Affair
An all-over strengthening and shaping program that new moms can do with their babies
To progress: When you can do this move comfortably, lift up on toes as you return to standing position.
4. Chair Dips Place your baby in a front carrier on your chest, then sit on the edge of a sturdy chair or bench. Place hands on the front edge of the chair close to your buttocks, arms straight and fingers curled lightly over the edge. Walk your feet out in front of you so knees are at a 90-degree angle, thighs parallel to the floor; remove your buttocks from the seat so you’re supported by your arms and your buttocks are close to the edge of the seat. Your back should be straight, abdominals contracted. Bend elbows to lower torso vertically toward floor; don’t let elbows flare outward. Look straight ahead, keeping buttocks and back close to the seat as you lift and lower your body. Straighten arms to starting position without locking your elbows. Strengthens triceps.
To progress: Walk legs out and away from you so you’re balanced on your heels.
5. Push-Ups Begin on your hands and knees, arms straight and directly beneath your shoulders, knees behind your hips. Contract your abdominals so your head, neck, spine, hips and knees form a straight line. Inhale, bend elbows, and lower yourself toward the floor until your elbows are even with your shoulders. Exhale, and push yourself back up to the starting position in a straight line without collapsing your torso; repeat. Note: If these push-ups are too difficult, place knees under your hips, or do them standing with your hands against a wall. Strengthens chest, front shoulders and triceps.
6. Basic Crunch Lie on the floor, knees bent and feet a comfortable distance from your buttocks. Place hands behind your head, fingertips touching but not clasped. Contract your abs inward toward your spine, buttocks relaxed so your back is as close to the floor as possible. Inhale. Exhale, contracting abs toward your spine as you lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor. Slowly lower and repeat. Note: if you still have a diastasis after pregnancy, you may need to splint. Strengthens abdominals.
7. Alternating Lunges Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, hands on your hips. Take a step forward with your right foot, bending both knees so your right knee is in line with your ankle and left knee is pointing toward the ground, heel lifted and torso erect. Push off the ball of your right foot, straightening legs; return to starting position. Repeat, alternating with the left leg. Note: If necessary, hold a chair for support to start. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and calves.