Parenting is physical work. No one is going to argue that activities of daily parenting are hard-ass work.
Your fresh little newborn feels light as a feather. Until you start the unrelenting grind of putting them down and picking them up from the crib, the ground, the bathtub. Carrying them in one arm with the groceries, while picking up around the house, while cooking dinner. Hours spent rocking in arms, in front packs, or bouncing on balls.
Your sweet 10 pound dumbbell becomes a 25-30 dumbbell. And still, she wants to be picked up, carried around, tossed in the air, spun around.
Building strategic strength and basic functional movement skills such as supportive breathing strategies and a solid hip hinge, will go a long way to warding off common aches and pains of parenting.
The following categories of exercises will help you train for rigors of daily parenting:
1) Supportive breathing strategies (for example, the Connection Breath or Piston Breathing and their applications to movement, like Exhale on Exertion)
2) Core exercises (for example, Planks, Pallof presses and Heel Slides)
3) Offset or unilateral exercises (for example, Offset goblet squat or Offset carries)
4) Squats and Hinges (for example, Deadlifts and Goblet squats)
5) Front-loaded exercises (for example, Dumbbell Front Raise or Bent over rows)
6) Shoulder/Upper-back/Extension-based exercises (for example, Band Pull Apart or Super(wo)mans)⠀
These exercises will help you :
- Learn to hinge from the hips and train your glutes offload your low back
- Manage your intra-abdominal pressure during lifts and carries
- Counteract the postural strain of hunching over a baby for hours on end
- Become comfortable managing asymmetrical loads on your body
If you are already engaged in strength training, evaluate your routine and see if you’re hitting these categories.
Try this at-home workout:
For this workout, you’ll need one resistance band, a set of light dumbbells (3-5 lbs) and a set of medium to heavy dumbbells.
To prepare, perform A1 and A2 (below) for 8 reps (per side, where applicable) for 2 rounds.
Then, move on to the B-set. Perform 10-12 reps of each exercise (per side, where applicable), I recommend 2-3 sets of each exercise. You may increase reps and sets over time.
While it might be tempting, don’t rush through your reps. Take them at a slow, controlled pace.
Recommended breathing strategy: Apply the Connection Breath to these movements. During the easy phase of the movement (like lowering into a squat), inhale into your ribcage. As you begin the hard part of the exercise (rising from the squat), exhale and contract your pelvic floor. This strategy is known as “Exhale on Exertion”. For variations on this strategy, click here.
These aren’t necessarily the exercises I offer during the first stages of core and pelvic floor rehab. As a pre-requisite, you should be familiar with Piston Breathing or the Connection Breath and understand how to use your breath to support yourself during exertion. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the No B.S. Guide to a Stronger, Drier Pregnancy and Postpartum. This FREE resource is like a 1:1 tutorial on the Connection Breath and Coordinated Breathing strategy.
Do you exercise to support your parenting?? Leave me a comment and tell me how!
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My mission is to make sure that having a baby is not a reason why you can’t do all the things.
Contact me if you have questions about exercise or pelvic health pertaining to pregnancy or postpartum. I also offer personal training services and consultations to folks locally (Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland) and online.