Believe it or not, it’s possible to lug a car seat, push a stroller, and hoist a baby onto the swings every single day without straining yourself. The secret: Shore up your postural muscles, which include your back, as well as your abs, obliques, pelvis, hips, and glutes.
Lie faceup on floor with knees bent, feet flat, arms on floor by sides. Lift hips up off floor, squeezing glutes, so that your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for two to three seconds, then lower for two to three seconds. Do 12 to 15 reps.
Make it harder: Lift one leg while in the bridge position.
Start on all fours on floor. Simultaneously lift right arm forward and left leg straight behind you. Hold for one second, then lower to starting position. Switch sides, doing ten reps on each side.
Make it harder: For a deeper burn, do this move starting from a plank position instead of on all fours.
Stand with feet wide, toes turned out slightly, arms crossed (fingertips on shoulders) or holding a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell with both hands in front of chest, elbows bent by sides. Keeping chest lifted, lower into a squat so hip crease is slightly below knees and thighs are parallel to floor. Hold for one second and return to start. Do 12 to 15 reps.
Make it harder: Hold a heavier dumbbell
Lie faceup on floor with arms by sides and knees bent with feet in the air (shins should be parallel to floor). Lower left heel to tap the floor, then return to starting position. Repeat with right heel, and do ten reps on each side.
Make it harder: Extend legs straight up and alternately lower heels to floor with straight legs.
Sit on floor with legs extended in front of you. Cross left leg over right, placing left foot flat on floor outside right knee. Rotate torso toward left, pressing your right upper arm against left knee and reaching left arm slightly behind you, with palm on floor. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
Quick Tip: Balance Your Body! To even out imbalances, exercise using a two-to-one ratio. “If you’re weaker on your left side (say, it’s the hip you never use to carry your kid) do one side plank on your left arm, one on your right, and then a second on your left,” says Alycea Ungaro, owner of Real Pilates studios, in New York City.