By Monique Miller, Founder, Yummy Mummy Lifestyle Ltd.
Photos by Taneane Twele Photography
During pregnancy ligaments become more relaxed and hip bones can actually spread wider than their proper alignment. This condition is due to the increased levels of a hormone called Relaxin. This may make joints prone to injury and new mothers prone to body alignment issues. Following a strong and well planned lower body workout can strengthen buttock and hip flexor muscles which aid in guiding bones back to their proper alignment.
A mother’s recovery period is gradual and usually occurs over a 3 to 4 month period, but can take longer1. Nursing mothers should see fitness as an avenue of working back to their fitness goals and increase their energy levels. Weight loss will happen gradually and methodically as your body allows it to shed those last pounds needed to maintain milk production. Try not to be frustrated but try and focus on your health and strengthening your body. This exercise program is wonderful for toning your thighs and buns to lose inches and feel great.
You know your body best so listen to it! If you feel any joint discomfort, rest and avoid moves that aggravate the condition. Pay diligent attention to not over exert as it is important to maintain a comfortable and consistent fitness schedule. Misalignments or injuries will keep you from reaching your goals and can be long lasting if not treated properly. Postnatal clients are recommended to practice the “Rest-Activity” cycle of fitness to avoid over exertion (a half hour of rest for a half hour of activity).
Always consult a physician before beginning any new exercise program. The following exercises can be done with or with out resistance. Be extremely careful when incorporating resistance (such as wearing a child) that your back and abs are strong enough to sustain the weight added onto your frame. These moves without any resistance are challenging enough to see results quickly. If you feel pain or experience spotting at any time during this workout stop immediately and rest. Stay hydrated and have fun getting into shape!
1. Stationary Lunges
To tighten the front of your thigh and outer buttock. Feel the burn!
Place one foot in front of the other, approximately two to three feet apart with your back straight and abs flexed. As you exhale, slowly lower yourself as if you were to go down on one knee. Stop with your knee about six inches from the ground, and hold for a count of two—your front knee should form a 90-degree angle without projecting over your toe-line. Inhale and squeeze your buttocks as you push into the ground through your front heal. Return to start position and repeat. Aim for three sets of 12 repetitions for each of the exercises in this lower body workout.
2. Plié Squats
Borrowing one from the ballerinas to work your inner thigh and tone your rear.
With toes pointed outwards, begin with your feet about a foot wider than shoulder distance apart. Keeping abs in tight and your back straight, slowly lower your buttocks for a count of 2. Your knees should form an angle no greater than 90 degrees (if you can’t see your toes that means your knee joint has gone too far). The wider the stance the more you isolate the inner thigh. Avoid hyper-extending your joints by not locking them into place. Flex your buttocks and slowly press up to the start position.
3. Ski Squats
Prepare for those Daisy Dukes! This move will target your buttocks and hamstrings while strengthening your quads and hip flexors.
Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly “sit” back as if you were going to sit down on a chair. Lower until your thighs are just above parallel to the ground. Keep your back straight and avoid leaning forward. Watch for proper knee alignment during this move. Return to start by isolating your leg and buttock muscles—let them do the work and don’t just pull yourself up.
4. Hinge Rotation
Get ready to shape and firm.
Using a chair or wall for balance, imagine your knee is a door, your hip is the hinge and your butt is the stopper. Stand with your feet pointing forward and lift your thigh parallel to the ground. Lead the move by flexing your buns to rotate your knee like a door swinging open for a count of 2, squeeze and return for a count of 2. Focus on flexing your rear the entire move.
5. Glute Kick Backs
Step aside J-Lo, this move is great for targeting the lower buttocks and the back of your leg.
Standing upright with abs flexed, lift your leg directly to the back, while keeping it straight. Feel the squeeze of the lower buttock and hold for a count of two. Release and return to the start. Avoid locking out your knee and watch to make sure your hips are facing forward throughout the move.
6. Outer Hip/Buttock Stretch
Stretching after a workout is an important part of maintaining a healthy body—so don’t miss it! This stretch can be done sitting down or standing.
If standing, hook your ankle onto your knee and slowly lower to mimic a seated position (knee at 90 degrees). If seated, cross your ankle on your knee, and with a straight back lean forward slowly. Lower until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. You should never feel any pain and if you do, back the stretch off.
Monique Miller is a leader in the Postnatal Fitness industry in Canada. As Personal Trainer, Fitness instructor and founder of Yummy Mummy Lifestyle Ltd., Miller also is very proud of her first full time job, her one year old son Corbin. The Yummy Mummy Club has fitness groups hosted worldwide with new chapters launching everyweek. Log on to www.yummymummys.ca to find out how you can meet new friends, find support and become an inspiration to other mothers in your community through the Yummy Mummy Lifestyle.