Taking care of young kids requires being able to move quickly in every direction, often with a baby on your hip and a toddler clinging to your leg. It’s a constant physical challenge, and if you don’t train for it, you could wind up injured or in pain, says Brittany Citron, founder of PROnatal Fitness, a pre- and postnatal fitness company. To kick off 2018, try the following six-move workout, which Citron crafted to target the specific muscles needed to hoist a car seat, lug a diaper bag, and push that tank of a double stroller. You can do it in your living room; it works best when preceded by a five minute warm-up, like jogging in place. The moves are safe during pregnancy, but check with your doctor before you start.
Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Equipment: One resistance band
Frequency: Three to five times per week
1. Stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and a resistance band under the arches of your feet. Grab the ends of the band and wrap them around your hands, keeping arms straight and at your sides.
2. Inhale as you send your hips backward, lowering into a deep squat. Extend arms slightly forward as you lower hips.
3. Exhale as you rise back up, curling both hands toward shoulders, then slowly lowering them down.
4. Do 15 reps.
Make It Easier: Squat onto a chair behind you, rest for a count of one, then stand back up to perform the biceps curl.
1. Stand with legs wide apart, and hold a resistance band directly in front of you.
2. Inhale deeply through your nose. On the exhale, bend right leg into a side lunge as you pull the band outward with both hands. Keep your weight over right leg, left leg straight.
3. Inhale as you rise back up to standing position with arms in front.
4. Do ten reps on the right side, then switch to the left.
Make It Easier: Begin with feet together, and step right leg out into a squat—in which both legs bend—instead of a lunge.
1. Place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the edge of a sturdy counter. Take a few steps back so that your body forms a straight diagonal line. Rise up onto toes.
2. Inhale as you lower your chest until it gently touches the counter’s edge, keeping navel drawn toward spine, glutes engaged, and head in line with spine.
3. Exhale as you push yourself back to starting position.
4. Do six to ten reps.
Make It Easier: Trade the kitchen counter for a wall, placing fingertips on wall just below shoulder height before you rise onto toes and lower your chest.
1. Stand with legs hip-width apart and a resistance band under right foot, left toes pointed behind you. (Left leg should be slightly bent.) Grab the ends of the band and wrap them twice around your hands.
2. Inhale and bend forward at hips until torso is parallel to floor. Keeping spine long, reach arms to floor. Left toes should remain pointed and on the floor, but all your weight should be on right leg.
3. With torso still parallel to the floor, exhale and pull arms up into a row, pointing elbows directly toward ceiling, then inhale and lower arms back down.
4. Exhale as you stand back up, squeezing right glute. Do ten reps on right leg, then switch to left.
Make It Easier: Stand with both feet shoulder-width apart on top of the band, and do 15 to 20 reps.
1. Begin in a lunge with left leg forward and right leg extended behind you, feet shoulder-width apart. Place one end of a resistance band under left foot, and hold the other end in right hand, keeping hand by shoulder and elbow at side.
2. Inhale as you bend knees, pausing just before right knee hits the floor and keeping left knee over ankle.
3. In one motion, exhale as you stand up and push the band straight overhead, keeping wrist straight.
4. Do ten to 15 reps on one side, then switch to the other.
Make It Easier: Perform the same pattern in a squat stance instead of a lunge.
1. Start on all fours, with hips directly over knees and head in line with spine. Inhale through nose, and on exhale, draw navel toward spine.
2. Without losing engagement of abdominal muscles, extend right leg behind you, with toe pointed toward floor, and left arm in front of you so that body forms a straight line from left fingertips to right ankle.
3. Hold position for ten to 20 seconds, with left arm pulling forward, right leg pulling back, navel drawn toward spine, glutes engaged, hips square, and head in line with spine. Remember to breathe!
4. Return to starting position, and repeat on the other side. Do two or three reps on each side.
Make It Easier: Focus on only the leg extension; do not add the arm.