StyleFit ambassador Kate Mac talks through her approach to coordinating mum life and exercise including a full body workout routine incorporating your child so you don’t just have to wait until nap time!
Looking back to before I had kids and reflecting on some of the things I used to say to new mums about when to work out and how, actually makes me want to punch myself.
There are just some things you really shouldn’t give advice on until you are in the experience, and I feel this was where I went wrong as a trainer, not because I wasn’t a mum yet, but I should have spoken to other mum trainers and clients and got a better idea of what they think is achievable at different baby stages, especially in the first year.
I thought I had a good idea, but I didn’t truly know what life with a newborn was really like, but I guess how could I? It’s unpredictable, its messy, it’s exhausting, and it’s riddled with unrealistic expectations. I’m now on baby number 2 and it’s a whole other ball game all together.
The common thing I use to say was – exercise when the baby sleeps. Whilst sometimes I have the motivation for this and naps get longer, I can see this being achievable, when you’ve spent half an hour feeding or rocking in a dark room to get them down, by the time you get out and into your workout gear, the baby is awake.
Now, there is space for this and as they get older it might be your only option, but I feel when they are little there is a missed opportunity to not only connect with your baby but also help them with each developmental stage.
As your little one grows, they start to develop new skills and see the world differently and we can really help them with all these stages.
I’m sure as a mum you are familiar with the term ‘leap’. I think every time my 1st born Bailey started acting up or changing, I would jump on the Wonder Weeks app and see the ‘leap’ she was in.
Now, if you are getting thrown as the months go on and your baby starts suddenly waking a lot or crying more often than not it’s due to them learning a new skill and if you’ve had a horrible night with them just being alert and not settling you might find that the next day they could be grasping a toy for the first time, following things with their eyes or one of the biggest sleep regressions happen when they learn to roll. (We are currently in this phase and my word do I feel like a zombie!).
Some babies simply don’t experience too much of a regression, but others can be hell for about 2-6 weeks, we are week 5 so if my words are jumbled here that is why!
So, now you’ve had a little baby lesson what has this got to do with working out?
This time round with my new baby Mia I’ve decided a different approach to mumming and exercise. If you have 2 bubs having naps, it takes a long time before you can get these to align and by the time you have one down and then got the other down the first might wake. It’s all such a ride! So, why not workout when they are awake? When the older one goes down for their longer nap in the middle of the day and your baby is still awake this is your opportunity. If you’re lucky enough to have day care or someone to look after your older one each week too then this is where you need to prioritise your exercise.
We all know about mums and bubs workout classes but sometimes we can’t get to the times and these classes don’t always involve the little ones. So, I’ve been experimenting and looking at the skills Mia is starting to develop and how I can incorporate some exercises with her that not only help me workout, but she also gets to work on her development too. The benefit of this also is that when I’m done, I’ve stimulated her so much that she is so tired and usually goes down for a good sleep. It’s been game changing! I’m talking planking and core work with her on her back and moving a toy side to side for her to follow, you work extra hard transferring your weight from side to side and you get to giggle and talk to her as you do it.
Another one is burpees with a half push up and kissing her head whilst she lies on the mat and help her do tummy time by doing exercises that get her to lift and watch you. A great one is helping their understanding of depth and smooth transitions so moving up and down towards them in push ups or squats. There are so many things, and your bub will love it as you look at them and connect because at the end of the day that’s all they want. That love and connection from you. This also means that you can what? Maybe ACTUALLY sleep when the baby sleeps! It’s a win, win for everyone. Now, this will get a little harder when they start to crawl and move around but you can adapt the moves to fun things when they are in a play pen but when they start to walk… this might be when you transition to working out when they are asleep.
I’ve developed a little workout you can do with your baby which I’ll share below. You’ll be doing two amazing things here.
- Prioritising your health so you are better equipped to deal with the demands of motherhood both mentally and physically.
- Connecting with your bub and helping them develop their skills too.
You can adapt these as you like to your ability, and I’d love to hear how you went! Feel free to message me via my Instagram account if you need some explanation on the exercise or tag me in your workouts @katemac411
Full Body Baby Strength
So, keeping it very simply as our mum brains can only handle so much. This should take you around 25 minutes including warm up and cool down and pending on how much break you take. It’s quick so you can do it once for time or if you want a little more go through it twice. Not every exercise involves bub but the ones that don’t you can still interact with them as you move. Now with some of these moves you will be lifting the baby up and down so please make sure they are at a phase where they do have head control or position yourself, so you are holding them securely.
4 x exercises, 12 reps each (upper body)
4 x exercises, 12 reps (lower body)
- 1 x Baby
- 2 x Hand weights (or use two same weighted items from around the house, wine bottles perhaps?)
- Yoga mat
- Baby gym/ play mat
- 1 x heavier weight or kettle bell (or if confident enough you can use your baby for some of these but just be super mindful not to drop them!) I’d recommend using a pillow underneath them when you are moving them up and down should anything happen!
Warm up: Place your baby on their back on the mat
Starting on all 4s
- CAT/ COW over bub 1 min
- Thread the needle twisting open then down to touch the bubs head lightly x 5 and do both sides.
- Hold plank either on knees or feet hovering over bub and give them a smile and tickle whilst alternating sides.
- Side plank with thread the needles twisting open, again reaching up and down touching your bub with a tickle at the bottom x 5 then do the other side
- Childs pose – reaching up and tickling bubs feet and leaning into your lats left and right.
- Burpees with a half push up on knees kissing your bubs forehead.
- Body weight squats tickling your bub at the bottom x 12
- Squats with bub in arms x 12
- Squat to press safely with bub – squatting down then up as you lift bub above your head to warm up the shoulders.
On your back
- Crunches with bub x 12
- Glute thrusts with bub held lightly on your hips x 12
Your workouts: 4 exercises, 12 reps each, 2-4 times through.
Babies workout: Tummy time. Place bub in front of you so they can see you on their tummy.
Weights: 2x dumbbells
These exercises are all simple movements you have no doubt, done before but this time come down onto your knees, facing your bub so you can see each other and throughout the movements make faces, noises and be silly with your baby, make them laugh and connect. When you break between sets be sure to give them a tickle or a cuddle or even switch them to their back for the next set if they are getting a little scratchy.
- 12 x bicep curl to press up
- 12 x triceps dip (behind head)
- 12 x upright row
- 12 x push ups (on knees or toes) (if feeling strong enough turn bub on their back and place them underneath you so you can give them a little kiss each time you come down to the low part of the push up)
- BREAK (cuddle time!) 30 seconds
LOWER BODY/ CORE:
Your workout: 4 exercises, 12 reps each, 2-4 times through.
Bubs workout: Smooth transitions and events (Your bub like love the up and down transitions and start to follow the different sequences and events happening with all your repetitive movements)
Weights: Baby or heavier dumbbell or kettle bell (10 – 16kg)
Again, exercises are simple but try to engage with your baby – if you are doing this with a mirror around face the baby into the mirror for your movements so they can watch themselves go up and down with you. Don’t forget to giggle with them, even when you are hurting haha)
- 12 x squats with baby or weight (baby can be on their back looking at you if you are using a weight or just body weight and each time you squat down with a free hand give them a tickle)
- 12 x reverse lunges right & left side (do these holding baby, or with them on their back in reach, tickling them each time you lower to the ground)
- 12 x hip thrusts (lying on your back place baby on your hips and move through your thrusts. As a challenge hold your final one up for 30 seconds and play with your bub.
- Plank with toy drag x 12 (Set up into straight arm plank with bub between your hands on their back and lift and place their favourite toy slowly down next to their ear and alternate each side. They key is to go slow and whilst you are holding plank position let them follow the toy with their eyes and head each side. Your core will be firing by the end of this!)
By the end of this workout you heart will be racing, so give your bub a big cuddle as your heart rate lowers and breath slows down. They will love being close to your warmth and will be soothed by your heartbeat and in return you will feel soothed and calmed just by being with them. It’s a beautiful way to connect with them and a great mindfulness activity for you too. Close your eyes and be still with you bub against your chest and just breath for a few minutes.
So, there you have it! Your bub will be pretty knackered after all this stimulation so fingers crossed you can then put them down for a sleep and you can shower and relax too. Be sure to put on some fun music for them to listen to during the workout too! All their senses will be fulfilled by the end of it.