5 Postpartum Pilates Moves You Can Do At Home

Get your body back in shape after giving birth with this fast and effective ballet-Pilates workout.

The postpartum period is a time of great physical and emotional change. As your mind and body adjust to post-pregnancy, adding exercise into your daily routine (when you feel ready!) can help you gain more energy, flexibility, and strength—and help you feel more like yourself again. Pilates offers many effective moves that are safe to try at home during this time of transition to help you find balance, relieve stress, and get back in shape.

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Postpartum Pilates Workout

Woman Doing Home Workouts

This workout created by Pop Physique creator Jennifer Williams, a Los Angeles-based mother of three, was designed to help you get back into top form while encouraging you to keep your pelvis, back and shoulders in proper alignment, alleviating back pain and making it easier to carry your baby (and groceries and stroller...) without hurting yourself.

How it Works: You'll do repetitions of tiny movements that fatigue your muscles, making their fibers break down. As the fibers work to reconnect, you're burning megacalories. In addition, Pop Physique's focus on posture will help curb what Williams calls the "mommy back" (a swayback position with your back arched, belly out and shoulders forward) that you may have developed during pregnancy.

Always check with your doctor before starting this or any postnatal fitness program; you'll need to wait at least six weeks after having a Cesarean section.

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The Move: Powerhouse Planks


How to do it:

  • Get down on all fours on a mat or carpet. Lower yourself down to your elbows keeping them directly under your shoulders, palms facing down and pressing into the floor. Don't let your head hang down or strain it upward; your neck should be aligned with your spine.
  • Tilt your pelvis under slightly to protect your lower back, and squeeze your inner thighs together so your legs form a V-shape [shown]. Keep your abs contracted as you breathe deeply, holding for 30 seconds. Try to work up to 1 1/2 minutes. Another way to progress is to do a full plank: Extend your legs behind you one at a time, legs and feet together, holding your body in a straight line. Do 3 sets.

Muscles it works: Abs, butt, arms, legs, back, and pelvic floor (Pressing your thighs together tightens your pelvic floor.)

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The Move: High Relevé with Plié


How to do it:

  • Stand parallel to a countertop or the back of a sturdy chair with the hand closest to the counter resting on it, feet parallel and hip-distance apart and shoulders back.
  • Place a small ball or throw pillow between your inner thighs, or if you're not using a ball, stand with feet closer and squeeze your inner thighs together. Tilt your pelvis under slightly, pull your belly button up and in and remember to breathe.
  • Relevé, or lift, your heels so that you're on the balls of your feet, then slowly bend your knees about an inch to plié [shown]. Do 3 sets of 12.

Muscles it works: Thighs, butt, and abs

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The Move: Attitude


How to do it:

  • Stand in front of a countertop or sturdy chair back. Bend over and rest your forearms on the counter or chair back, then lower your forehead onto your forearms. Walk your feet back until they're underneath your hips (your body should form an L shape), then stand with heels together and toes slightly apart, which Williams calls "little first posi- tion."
  • Tuck your pelvis under, bend your knees about an inch, then tuck under and squeeze your butt (this will help you hold the pelvic tuck and keep a stable body position).
  • Lift your left leg behind you, knee still bent at 45 degrees [shown].
  • Emphasize squeezing the area where your butt meets your thigh; that's more important than how high you're lifting your leg. Do 3 sets of 16 reps on each leg.

Muscles it works: Butt, thighs, and calves

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The Move: Knee dancing


How to do it:

  • Kneel down on a mat or carpet with your knees hip-distance apart. Keeping your shoulders back and down, pull your abs in, squeeze your butt and raise your arms in front of you to shoul- der height as you lean back a few inches [shown].
  • Don't arch your back; you should feel tension in your thighs and butt as you hold this position. If you feel unsteady, keep your arms down at your sides.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, working up to 1 1/2 minutes. Do 3 times.

Muscles it works: Abs, butt, and thighs

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The Move: C Curl


How to do it:

  • Sit on a carpeted floor or on your mat with your legs in front of you, knees bent and feet hip-distance apart and flat on the floor.
  • Holding the outer parts of your thighs firmly with your hands, elbows bent, tilt your pelvis under slightly and pull your belly-button up and in as you round your back and curl your abs into a C shape [shown].
  • Keep your legs and butt tight and exhale each time you do a curl. Do 3 sets of 16 reps each.

Muscles it works: Abs, thighs, and arms

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