Getting to the gym can be hard for anybody, especially for moms. With so much to balance in our day-to-day lives, fitting in exercise can feel impossible.
When I became a mom, I found it hard to find time to work out. Between my kids, dogs, partner, full-time job, part-time job, and schoolwork, I was lucky to find time to pee in a day. I wasn’t going to let lack of time stop me from working out, though, especially with so many incredible benefits associated with exercise, such as improving your brain health, managing weight, strengthening your muscles, and reducing the risk of disease.
Instead, I got creative and found some great ways to fit in fitness even when I was swamped. In this article, I’ll cover a few of my favorite full-body workout routines and tips to help get your pre-baby body back regardless of the stage of motherhood you are in.
The New Mom Workout Routine
It can seem overwhelming for new moms to get back into the gym. And for me personally, I didn’t want to go back to a gym setting. At least not right away. I wasn’t one of the fairy tale moms who dropped all my baby weight right after giving birth and didn’t feel comfortable in my gym attire.
I began by walking at least two miles every day, sometimes more. And as soon as my doctor cleared me to work out, I started with some simple workout routines. Here is a quick 30-minute full-body workout routine that is sure to get your heart rate up, add some muscle, and burn some calories.
- Equipment needed: Light weights, 5-15lbs
- Warm-Up: 2 minutes of jogging, jumping jacks, or rowing machine
For this workout, you will be doing five sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise, including:
- Dumbbell curls
- Shoulder Press
- Chest Press
- Goblet Squat
- Weighted step-back lunge
- This is a full-body workout that will work the upper body and lower body while engaging the core.
- Your sets should flow continuously. After you complete all reps for one exercise, move right into the other. You can take breaks after each set if desired. However, pushing through will give you more of a calorie burn and build muscle.
- Proper alignment is essential for this workout. Start by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and keeping a slight knee bend. Align your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, and knees over your ankles. Take a deep breath in and pull your belly button to your spine. This will engage your core.
- Stand tall with the crown of your head pointed directly towards the ceiling. Your chin should be away from your chest, and your gaze should be forward. Begin to move through the upper body exercises.
With weights in your hands, keep the palms and inner arm facing forwards and elbows next to your rib cage. Squeeze your bicep as you curl. Exhale while you curl, and inhale when you lower your arms. When you are lowering your arms (eccentric movement), do not relax the muscle and allow the weight to do the work of lowering. Engage your biceps as you lower the weight in a controlled manner.
On your last curl, keep the weights up by your shoulders. Push the arms up to a goal post position, with the arms bent and elbows shoulder height. Your inner arms should be facing forward, away from you. Make sure to check your body alignment. Pull the belly button into the spine, and on the exhale, push the weights up over your head. Touch the weights together at the top, and inhale as you slowly lower the weights. This will help to keep your traps engaged and active.
On your last shoulder press, lower the weights back down to the shoulder press starting position. Elbows should be shoulder high, and arms are facing out. Check your body alignment and as you exhale, pull your arms in towards each other in front of your nose and try to touch your elbows together. The same eccentric movement will apply to the chest press. Slowly bring the weights back to the starting position. Ensure that your ears stay over your shoulders and you aren’t jutting your chin forward.
After your last chest press, move the weights from above your shoulders to the center of your chest. Your arms should be facing your body. The weights should be up-right (vertical) and touching. Keeping your arms bent and elbows out to the sides, pull your shoulders back and avoid hunching forward.
Move your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart. Keep your toes forward, check your body alignment, and begin to squat down slowly. Send the booty back as you squat, keeping your knees stacked on top of your ankles. Once you reach a 90-degree angle (or as far as you can safely squat), activate (flex) your glutes and drive through your heels and feel the glute muscles pushing you up.
Step Back Lunges
Keeping the weights in your hands, lower the arms, so they lay comfortably by your sides. Arms should be facing in, and the weights are horizontal. Step the right leg back, planting your right toes. Keeping your left knee stacked over your left ankle, lower the right knee towards the ground, and give a light tap if you are safely able to do so. Alternate to the other leg. You can use a yoga mat or a towel below your lowering knee to prevent pain from a rough impact. Remember to keep your gaze forward, not looking down at your knee.
The Experienced Mom Workout Routine
After a few years, I’m sure you will have plenty of time to get back to a good gym routine, or maybe not. Some moms might have nailed down a good routine with the help of a supportive partner, flexible work schedule, babysitters, and nannies. However, if you find yourself running from one activity to the next and don’t have time for a full workout, this mama bear complex workout routine is perfect. It can be done either at home or in the gym in 30 minutes.
- Equipment needed: Barbell and a couple of plates. Weight should be around 0-10 pounds on each side, totaling 45-65lbs.
- Warm-Up: 2 minutes of row or stair stepper. If neither is available, start with a jog.
For this Mama Bear Complex workout routine, you will be doing 8-12 reps, including:
- Straight leg deadlift
- Clean to Shoulders
- Push Press
- Good Morning
- Back Squat
- Push Press
- Front Squat
- Straight leg eccentric deadlift
- For this workout, the idea is to complete all the moves one right after another without breaks.
- Start with just the barbell so you can get used to the movements, and then determine if you can/should add weight or reps to your workout.
- This workout is similar to the Bear Complex, often completed in CrossFit gyms. However, this workout is a little more challenging. It adds in a few extra moves and demands a little more from you.
Straight Leg Deadlift
Start with the barbell at your feet. Remember to get yourself in alignment (see above). Send your hips back as you inhale, grab the barbell, keeping your legs straight-ish. A slight bend is good. Exhale as you lift the bar off the ground by activating the glutes. Keep a straight back as you pull the bar up your legs and stop at your hips.
Clean To Shoulders
Once the bar is at your hips, you can move into the clean movement. This isn’t your traditional power clean or hang clean. This movement will start at the hips, pulling the shoulders up as you flip the wrists to bring the barbell on top of your shoulders. You will slightly bend at the knee to complete this movement, but you don’t need to come off the heels like in a hang clean or power clean.
Move right into the push press by bending your knees and, using the momentum of your legs, push the barbell up over your head. Lower the barbell behind your head, resting it on your shoulders to prepare for your good morning.
Keep your back flat and bend at the hips for the good morning. You want to bend forwards to a 90-degree angle.
Raise back up and keep the bar on your shoulders for the back squat. Send the hips back, knees over ankles, and activate your glutes. Push back up to a standing position by using your glutes.
Get ready for another bend at the knees. Drive the barbell over your head to complete another push press.
Bring the barbell back to your shoulders in front this time. Keep the bar at your shoulders, and complete a front squat. Make sure to keep your chin off your chest, glutes activated, and knees stacked over your ankles.
Straight Leg Eccentric Deadlift
Push back up to a standing position and lower the bar to your hips. Then, perform a straight-leg eccentric deadlift before starting the Mama Bear all over again.
The Mom That Literally Has Zero Time Workout Routine
The reality is that there are going to be times in your life when you have zero time to do anything at all. If this sounds like you, try to follow these tips to stay strong and active throughout the day.
- Do two minutes of continuous squats while your brush your teeth.
- Use your bathroom counter to do pushups. Inclined pushups are a little easier, making them a great way to get a workout in while waiting for the shower or bathing the kids. You can also use the washing machine while you wait to change the laundry or the kitchen counter while cooking.
- Try sit-ups, roll-ups, leg lifts, clams, or lunges while you watch TV or movies.
- Park further away at the grocery store, take the stairs and try to walk to nearby amenities instead of driving.
- Add a few burpees to your everyday routine to get a sweat going in a short amount of time. Do 50 burpees as quickly as you can. You won’t enjoy it while you are doing it, but you will feel good about yourself when you are done.
Wrapping It Up
Exercise is essential through all stages of life and even more important as you age. Aging causes loss of muscle and flexibility. With both of those wanning, there is a lack of coordination and balance, which equals slips, trips, and falls that can be hard to recover from. By investing in exercise, you are investing in your overall health and well-being.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have a week or month that you don’t make it to the gym. Try and fit in some random strength exercises like those mentioned above. And if you are carrying your kid around all day at the zoo or park with a loaded diaper bag to boot, remember that is exercise too! By taking your kids on adventures, eating well, and taking your daily vitamins, you’re on your way to a good routine. You got this, mama!