Wednesday, February 5, 2014

10 Minute Workouts for Moms: Core/Balance [Fit Mamas Series, Part 4]

Have I mentioned that I love to workout?  You might think I am crazy.  But I do.  I love to workout (though sometimes in the moment its tough!) but more than anything I love how I feel after I work out.  Such a feeling of confidence and power and accomplishment.
'25' photo (c) 2011, Brad Montgomery - license:

No matter where you are at in your fitness journey, make this week a week where you take it up a notch.  You will notice a difference in how you feel after your workout and even in the days between your workouts.

As I promised earlier, I am posting some suggested 10 minute workouts.  As a disclaimer, I can't say that these workouts are necessarily right for you, especially if you have some kind of injury or special condition.  But these are a sample of the kinds of workouts that I personally do, and might also work for you.  If nothing else, I hope that they are an inspiration to you to find a type of workout routine that is right for you.  As I mentioned previously, talk to your health care professional before starting a workout routine and consider consulting a personal trainer for exercises tailored to your specific needs.

Core exercises are something I have been studying a lot recently, in light of my pregnancy.  Having a strong core is important in order to push a baby out (to put it bluntly :) ) but it is important to do the right kinds of core exercises while pregnant because some things (like crunches) can exacerbate the natural splitting of the abdominal muscles (specifically the rectus abdominis for you anatomy geeks) that occurs during pregnancy.  Some women recover from this split after birth (called a diastasis recti or DR), but for some women its a problem that persists for a lifetime and goes undiagnosed, leading to issues like back pain, urinary incontinence, umbilical hernia and a "pouch" belly.  Fortunately, a DR can usually be resolved with the right kinds of exercises.  Another reason why working out helps you to be a better mama!

If you are up for further reading about core exercises and pregnancy, here are some good resources:

Three exercises for a strong birth

A squatting option for moms late in their pregnancy (especially moms who haven't worked out much)

Post-partum belly binding for ab recovery

And on to the workouts!  Remember, if you are a super busy mama, a daily 10 minute workout really can have lasting benefits.  If you have a bit more time, you can string a 2-4 ten minute workouts together several times a week.  Find what works for you and make it happen!

If you are new to these exercises, make sure to do some research to make sure you are doing them correctly.  For the exercises below that involve weights (such as upright row and front shoulder raise), since these exercises are for the core and not for strength use a weight that is a bit challenging but doesn't leave you exhausted after the assigned number of reps.  You should be able to focus on having a strong, solid core while performing each of these exercises.

10 Minute Core Exercise #1

side plank left, side plank right, bridge and air squats, 30 seconds each (rest for 30 seconds)

side plank left, side plank right, bridge and air squats, 60 seconds each (rest for 30 seconds)

side plank left, side plank right, bridge and air squats, 90 seconds each (90 seconds will be challenging.  Take short breaks as needed, but remember to push yourself!)

10 Minute Core Exercise #2

Bridge with leg lifts (10 reps each leg)

Single leg squats (12 reps each leg)

Front shoulder raise 12 reps, three sets with 15 sec rest in between sets (if you have access to a Bosu ball, do this on the ball)

Circuit, 3 times through: squat to shoulder raise (30 seconds), jump rope (30 seconds), upright row (30 seconds)

10 Minute Core Exercise #3

Deadlifts (15 reps) Note: most women can lift a lot more weight for a deadlift than they expect.  Don't lift 5lb weights unless that is really all you can handle.  I currently use a single 40lb kettlebell for this exercise, but most women I know do 15-25lb (divide by two if you use two dumbells).

Circuit (4x through): Air squats, bridge, wall sits, wall ball (30 seconds each exercise)

What is your favorite core exercise?

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