Resistance training should be a large part of your postnatal exercise plan. But, don’t worry! That doesn’t mean you have to be one-rep max-ing it down in the weights section with the gym bros…
What is Resistance Training?
Resistance training is any exercise in which you lift, press or pull against resistance. So that could be traditional weight training, kettlebells, gym machines, resistance bands and even bodyweight.
Exercises such as squats, lunges, press-ups, pull-ups and deadlifts performed with or without weights. These target and strengthen all the major muscle groups of the body.
What are the benefits?
Strength training has a huge number of benefits for anyone of any fitness level. You don’t need to be strong before you start!
- Improves metabolism:
Muscle is metabolically active tissue. Which means it burns more calories than fatty tissue. Strength training builds muscle and contributes to increased metabolism. This is particularly important as we age and our metabolism naturally slows.
- Strengthens bones:
This one is particularly important for women. We are more prone to osteoporosis (brittle bones) as we age. The pressure our muscles are put under during resistance training, also puts pressure on the bones. These respond by producing more of the bone building materials (osteoblasts) to improve bone strength and density.
- Reduces the risk of chronic diseases:
Regular training can help to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels. In turn this decreases our risk of developing heart problems, as well as metabolic syndrome and subsequently Type 2 diabetes.
- Improves sleep quality:
Exercise can improve your sleep quality. Encouraging more time spent in deep sleep which helps to boost immune function, improve heart health, and control stress.
Why is Resistance Training so important for postnatal women?
Resistance training can be a major player in your post-baby rehab. That doesn’t mean grabbing huge weights and powerlifting! You need to be gentle on yourself.
Your initial rehab after baby should be concentrated on getting your core and pelvic floor functioning well. We recommend you see a pelvic floor physiotherapist to assess exactly where you are postnatally.
However, once you are physically (and emotionally) ready to start your journey back to fitness. Strength training should be top of your agenda!
Strength training HELPS your pelvic floor
Kegels (pelvic floor exercises) have their place. You need to know how to activate your pelvic floor during exercise, so kegels are a great way to learn this.
However, evidence shows that in terms of pelvic floor activation, certain resistance exercises are a lot more effective than kegels alone:
Glute bridges: 56% more activation than kegels
Squat: 30% more
Lunge: 42% more
Cat/Cow: 41% more
So if you want to strengthen your pelvic floor – you need full body strengthening to get the most bang for your buck!
Lower impact = less worries
Doing bodyweight, resistance band or weight training means low impact movements. Whether you had your baby vaginally or via C-Section, whether you have Diastasis Recti (abdominal gap) or not – there is benefit in not adding undue impact into your routine. Issues such as prolapse and pelvic floor dysfunction (incontinence etc) can be made worse by returning too soon to high impact activities like running and bootcamp.
Those activities aren’t a bad idea forever, but concentrating on strength first will mean you can return to them with less worries about causing yourself issues.
Avoid back pain
Postnatal resistance training should concentrate a lot on your core and glute strength. Our backs have been under a lot of strain during pregnancy and still are in the early parenting years. Lifting, holding, changing baby… these can all contribute to a sore back. A strong core and strong glutes support the lower back, taking the load and reducing the strain. Plus they look good! What more reason do you need?
Need some help navigating your way back to strength training?
I can help! My 1-2-1 packages put you and your individual needs front and centre. Everything is designed around you and your goals, your likes and dislikes. Your programme is completely individual to you!
Or, if you’re looking for something more affordable but still want a programme that is safe to use, designed for postnatal women to take them from the basics to strong… then the Stronger Mother programme might be right up your street. And now you can try it for FREE with absolutely no obligation to pay, before you make any kind of commitment!
Questions? Just shout! I’m always happy to help!