The struggle of losing weight after you have a baby is no joke. Between numerous daily feedings, a lack of sleep, and wanting to snuggle your baby all day, finding the time and energy to exercise is one thing. Then, understanding the best route for exercise is a different ball game.

New mommies might be tempted to focus solely on the belly area, which is likely the most notable body part that’s changed since having a baby. But, to get rid of the baby belly, you must focus on strengthening your body and replenishing muscle that didn’t get toned during your pregnancy. Here are some of the best exercises you can do to get your post-baby body back in shape.

Strength & Cardio: Why You Need Them

Many pregnant women slow down their exercise routines during pregnancy. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to take a break if you’re still getting some light activity in. But, easing your exercise regimen for a full nine months can result in some lost muscle mass. Strength training after you have your baby – once the doctor gives you the okay, of course – can bring back your muscle mass and get you strong enough to start working out again.

Cardiovascular exercise is just as crucial in helping you lose the extra pounds from pregnancy. Focusing only on your abdomen might build some muscle in that area, but it won’t help you shed the weight you put on. To do that, you need some light cardio in your workout, which can help tone your body, drop extra pounds, and increase your overall stamina to get more out of your workouts. Then, you can be ready to target those abs!

Build Strength and Stamina

Building strength and stamina through exercise is crucial to getting your pre-baby body back. Especially if you stopped your regular fitness routine during pregnancy, you’d likely find that you have trouble picking back up where you left off. You might feel low on energy or pained when lifting light weights.

The first couple of months of post-baby fitness should focus on rebuilding your strength and stamina gradually so that you give yourself ample time to heal and can move toward more intense workouts later. Here are some strength and stamina-building exercises to try:

Yoga

Postnatal yoga can boost your energy and build up your strength after giving birth. Specifically, yoga targets the spine and your overall flexibility, which can increase your strength in your back, shoulders, arms, legs, and tummy.

Try beginner yoga poses that can help you gradually increase strength and flexibility, like the bridge pose. To do this, lie on your back on a yoga mat, keeping your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Keep your arms at your side on the floor and lift your hips. Stretch your back as high as you can to strengthen your back and shoulder muscles.

Walking

Walking is perfect for brand-new moms who want to stay in shape and build up their stamina in the process. You can gradually work up to longer distances, and a faster pace as your body can handle it – and, your new baby can even join you! Start by walking one block a few times per day. Increase the distance to two blocks, then to three, and so on, until you feel that you can walk longer distances. Switch up the routine by walking faster or walking an area with low hills for resistance, which also introduces light cardio into your fitness routine.

Tone the Body

After a couple of months of light strength training, you can move to toning your overall body. Doing so increases your metabolism and muscle mass, which will help you burn calories and decrease your body fat. The best part is that you can have your baby help add weight to your toning exercises, giving you more resistance and more time for quality bonding.

Arm Lifts

Our arms are one of the first places in which we lose muscle mass, so it’s important to target them to avoid extra arm fat and an untoned appearance. And, the stronger your arms are, the more comfortable you’ll find it to increase your weights during your exercise routines, giving you even more resistance.

One exercise you can try is the curl up, using your baby for help. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed and hold your baby under her arms. Raise her above and slightly out from your face, keeping your arms straightened. Hold her in that position for ten seconds, and lower her back down. Do ten reps with a short break in between, and then do another set of ten reps.

Leg Lifts

To tone your legs, you can try leg lifts, which require no extra weights and target both the thighs and hips. To do them, lie on the floor on your left side, keeping your legs stacked on top of one another. Your head can rest on your arm. Lift your right leg up about 12 inches, pause for two seconds, and then lower your leg slightly by one or two inches, not allowing it to touch your left leg. Do ten reps before repeating on the other side.

Target the Abs

Focusing on your abs is something you can do in conjunction with strength, cardio, and toning exercises, rather than an individual fitness routine. Be sure to wait plenty of time after having the baby to start exercising your abs, which will be a tender area for several weeks to months, and get the okay from your doctor first. Here are a few exercises for your abs that you can ease your body into:

Kneeling Pelvic Tilt

Kneeling pelvic tilts help bring strength back to your pelvic area after the trauma it encounters during pregnancy and labor. To complete this exercise, get on the floor, positioned on all fours with your hands and knees on the floor. Keep your back straight, and then inhale, pulling your backside in and your pelvic area up. Hold for about five seconds, and then slowly go back to your starting position. Repeat ten times, take a break, and repeat ten more times.

Towel Pulse

The towel pulse can strengthen your abs with low-impact movement. Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent. Then, wrap a towel around your knees, holding each end with your hands. Inhale, and then use the towel to pull yourself up off the floor slightly, so that your abs contract, exhaling as you do. Pause for three seconds, and then slowly release yourself to the starting position. Repeat ten times, gradually increasing your reps as you gain strength.

Conclusion: Getting Rid of Baby Weight Through Exercise

Getting rid of your baby weight will take time and should only be attempted after your doctor has cleared you. It’s important to go slow and steady, allowing your body time to adjust to not being pregnant anymore. Building strength is the first step in getting your body ready to burn fat through cardio and other workouts. Once you feel like you’re ready, start targeting your abs, in addition to your other muscle groups, as part of a healthy, overall post-baby body workout.

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