Exercises to prepare you for your little bundle of joy.

           Picking up, putting down, and bending over… all movements that are drastically increased immediately after having your little bundle of joy. We love our little ones, and we love holding them every chance we get. In fact, the first few days, we have to work just for time away from visitor and “baby holders”. One thing we don’t realize is how much muscle we don’t use before it’s time to hold that 8lb munchkin. Well, lets take a look at some exercise you can do before, during, and after pregnancy to help you ready your body for that wonderful new addition.https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js

Workouts and timing:

Before pregnancy workout:

      “Before” is when you are years out of trying, talking about trying, and actually trying to get pregnant. These workout can be the most intense because you don’t have a baby to worry about, your hormones are at a good level, and your body can recover better without a little peanut taking most of your nutrients. the before is the time to “lift heavy”. Most girls believe that, if they lift heavy, they will get bulky. This is a very common myth amongst the exercise community. Women have a fraction of the testosterone that men have which is why they cant grow muscle like men. You want to try to lift 3 days per week with 24-48 hour in between weight lifting days. Do each exercise 4 sets of 8-10 reps to build strength. If you get to 12 reps, don’t count the set, move up in weight and try again. If you get 10 reps, count the set, and proceed. Do this weight until you can get it 3 sets of 12 reps, then move up in weight. Also, work biggest muscles first(quads, hamstrings) and smallest muscles last(biceps, forearms).
During Pregnancy workout:
           “during” refers to the 9 months that you are growing that little peanut. This is the most cautious workout period. During this time, you want to lift much much lighter than you were in the “before” stage. Your OB will advise you on how much you can lift, but a good rule of thumb is something that you can do 20-30 reps for 2 sets. It won’t be nearly as intense but will certainly help keep your muscular endurance up. Still strive to lift 3 days a week, and do a significant amount of walking everyday so that your cardiovascular endurance is good for labor and postpartum.
Postpartum workout:
             “Postpartum” refers to the first 3-4 months after the birth of your baby. This is a time where you are going to want to build your intensity back up. Start lifting a little heavier everyday and progress to the heavy weight you were doing before pregnancy. Walking early on is a great way to build your endurance back up and be ready to head back to the gym. build up to lifting heavy and work to get 4 sets of 8-10 reps again. 
  •  Back Squats: 
    • Benefits: 
      • Increases strength for standing up from squatting position. 
      • Increases flexibility during squatting position(playing with baby, picking up toys, etc) 
      • Increases stability in hip joints while picking baby or object up.
    • Place barbell on upper traps, and feet shoulder width apart. Lower your body down while keeping the bar over your feet until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should follow the line of your toes without going over them. 
  • Straight leg dead lifts
    • Benefits
      • Decrease pain in lower back 
      • Increases strength in hamstings, glutes, and lower back
      • Increase postural strength
      • Increases flexibility in lower back and hamstring
    • hold barbell in front of you with arms straight. With feet shoulder width apart and back completely straight(keeping upper back flexed and lower back at a normal arch), slowly lower the bar down closely in front of your knees, slightly bend your knees and explode the bar up as soon as you feel a stretch. Focus your “squeeze” on your hamstings and glutes. Activate your lats to keep the bar as close to you as possible. 
  • Lat pull downs:
    • Benefits
      • Increases strength in upper back
      • Encourages good posture while holding the baby and standing for long periods 
    • Using a lat pull down machine, hold bar with hands over the bar and pull bar straight to your chest. Move from A to B in one straight motion. follow your elbows behind you and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the bottom of the movement. slowly let bar return to starting position and repeat.
  • Shoulder Press:
    • Benefits:
      • Increases endurance for holding baby long periods of time. 
      • Increases strength for picking up and cradling the baby
    • Holding dumbbells, raises arms straight above your head until reaching the highest point. lower DB back to chin level and raise DB back up.
  • Bicep curls:
    • Benefits:
      • Increase strength for holding baby and long days of breastfeeding.
    • Holding a DB in each hand, elbows at your side, and arms straight down bend your arm at your elbow. raise the DBs to your chest and slowly lower back down.
  • Forearm curls:
    • Benefits:
      • Strength for picking up and holding baby 
    • Holding a barbell or dumbbells, with arms straight down, curl just your wrist until you feel strain in your forearms. this is a very isolated exercise, but the workout will be very beneficial.
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        There you have it, moms!! A great set of exercises to work on before, during, and after pregnancy to help prepare you for the world of childcare. I hope this helps prepare you or catch you up. Please leave comments or concerns below.

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