Having a baby is truly a miracle and for many people it's one of the happiest days of their life. However it would be a lie if we were to pretend there were no down sides, and one of the main things you'll find is that your body gets really put through the ringer.
Some of these changes will be permanent, but the good news is that your physique can generally recover if you're willing to put in the time and the effort – just look at any number of skinny and toned celebrity Mums. If you're hoping to regain some of your old firmness and feel attractive and young again, then here is a three day workout you can use to blast your body back into shape. Three days might not seem like enough – but when you have a baby to take care of it's hard to spare much more!
After having a baby, you'll probably want to lose weight in your stomach, arms, calves and thighs. The unfortunate thing to mention here to begin with is that you can't 'target' weight loss. In other words, you can't choose to lose weight in your thighs 'next', you can only burn fat and then hope that it comes off of your thighs etc. soon. This is genetically pre-determined so it might be that your stomach becomes incredibly thin before your thighs lose any weight at all but sadly there's nothing you can do other than keep on shedding that weight.
What you can target however is muscle toning and building. In other words, you can tone those areas by building muscle and that will make them look a lot slimmer and reduce any wobble you might have after the baby. This can also help with loose skin.
For this I'm going to recommend the 'push/pull workout' which is a resistance workout that will split your time between doing all the exercises that involve pushing movements (press ups, chest press, tricep push down) and all the ones that involve pulling (bicep curls, lat pull down, rows). This is ideal for a three day routine because you can then use the third day to focus on legs (squat, lunges, leg extensions) and abs (sit ups, leg raises, crunches). Many people aiming to lose weight will either ignore weight lifting all together, or they will come up with a very gentle full-body workout. This is a mistake though, as actually doing some heavier resistance work will not only help you tone much faster, but it will also cause you to produce good hormones (like growth hormone) to burn fat and build muscle and will really get your heart beating.
That doesn't mean I think you should be in the weights room with the muscle guys though – there are plenty of great bodyweight exercises you can use that will be just as good. Here I recommend press-ups, pull-ups (you can use the assisted ones if you have a machine in your gym, or you can use a bar that's close to the ground and do pull ups with your feet on the floor), lunge walking (walking with a deep lunge, it's a killer!), squats (no weights necessary), leg raises (lying on the floor), crunches, plank, tricep dips etc. You can find plenty more examples online. Combine this with some of the machines like the rowing machine, the lat pull down, the hip abductors/adductors, the cables (for tricep push downs – you hold a handle and push it downwards), curls, leg extensions, hamstring curls and chest press.
Make sure when you do this training that you keep it intense – that means going hard and fast and not resting for more than a minute in between. Make sure that once you've done ten, you're feeling genuinely tired. This way you can actually get a great workout in 20 minutes.
All this will tone and firm your body but it won't burn that much fat. For this you need to just go as hard as you can on the CV and the best way to do that is with interval training. Interval training means swapping between intervals of high intensity training then low intensity – so it might mean jogging lightly for five minutes then running fast for two. This is a great way to increase the stimulation of those good hormones, and at the same time it will get your heart rate really burning and put you in an 'anaerobic' fat burning zone. More to the point though, just as you can by reducing your rest periods when you're working out, you will find that using interval training allows you to get a better workout quicker which will mean will be more likely to stick to it.
You will also benefit if you mix your training up, so try out different CV machines whether it's running, cycling, rowing or using the elliptical machines, and try working out outside sometimes by jogging or swimming. For those calves, running uphill with an incline is particularly good.
Something I say to people often is to never 'skip' a workout during your week. If you're too tired or don't have time then you should always do something. Your CV is going to be the most important part of your workout, and there's plenty you can do at home in ten minutes that will get your heart racing. If you can't make it to the gym then, commit yourself to just ten minutes of jogging on the spot/skipping/high knees. It's not much but something is always better than nothing. And you'll usually find that once you start, you don't stop and you complete a whole workout...
So that's my thinking, and here's the routine I've come up with:
Day 1: Push Day
• Warm Up (5 mins)
• Pushing Exercises – 20 Minutes
Press Ups (On knees if necessary) 3 x 10
Plank 2 mins
Chest Press 2 x 10
Tricep Push Downs 2 x 10
Tricep Dips 3 x 10
Shoulder Press Machine 3 x 10
• Interval Training – 30-40 Minutes
• Cool Down
Day 2: Pull Day
• Warm Up (5 mins)
• Pulling Exercises – 20 Minutes
Lat Pull Down 2 x 10
Assisted Pull Ups 2 x 10
Machine Curls 3 x 10
Dumbbell Curls 3 x 10
Rowing Machine 2 x 10
• Interval Training (Rows would work well) – 30-40 Minutes
• Cool Down
Day 3: Legs and Abs Day
• Warm Up (5 Mins)
• Legs and Abs – 30 Minutes
Sit Ups 2 x 10
Crunches 2 x 15
Leg Raises 3 x 10
Lunges/Lunge Walking 3 x 10
Hamstring Curls 2 x 10
Leg Extensions 2 x 10
Squats 2 x 10
Calf Raises 3 x 10
Hip Abductors 2 x 10
Hip Adductors 2 x 10
• Regular CV (while consciously squeezing abs) – 20-30 Minutes
And there you have it. You might find that the resistance work is quite a lot to get through in the 20-30 minutes, but you don't have to do all of it as long as you target every major group. Meanwhile the point is that your workout should be fast and intense – you should be sweating after ten minutes. Keep the rest periods short then like I say, and move quickly from one machine to another. Never wait around for something to become free, and try combining exercises to pack more in. For instance, you can do plank immediately at the end of your press ups to turn them into one 'giant set' that will work you much harder. Likewise you could use a 'superset' and do hamstring curls during the 'rest period' for your leg extensions. It's not about how long you spend training, but about how much effort you feel you're putting in. Make sure you really feel the burn in the area you're trying to tone up and when you're doing the interval training, make sure you really put your all in for the fast periods – while keeping an eye on your heart rate of course.
You should also make sure to keep varying things. Try different types of CV (shadow boxing is great) and constantly be on the lookout for different exercises you can use and swap for the ones I've suggested. If you have suspension straps in your gym then these are brilliant for things like pull ups and suspended press ups. Or why not squeeze a ball on the mats with your knees for those thighs? =)