Strengthening the Mommy Muscles

Studio 5 Health & Fitness Contributor, Melanie Douglass, shows how to strengthen and balance the muscles moms use every single day.

Over and over again, moms perform daily tasks that require strength, balance and muscular endurance. Things like: rocking or bouncing a baby until they fall asleep; picking up children; carrying heavy diaper bags and car seats; holding a baby bottle; even reading stories; these activities are repeatedly performed on the same, dominant side of the body, leading to muscular imbalances for new moms. Muscular imbalances create weak, overstretched and/or overtight muscles that cause unnecessary aches, pains and fatigue, which inhibits moms getting efficient workouts… or worse, even wanting to workout.

Here’s how to strengthen the mommy muscles, balance your body, and look and feel your best, even during some of the craziest years of your life:

1) Alternate Sides!

So make a conscientious effort to switch sides for those repeated everyday “mom moves”. Hold the baby on the left side, carry the diaper bag on the right side, alternate holding that heavy car seat on the right and left sides, put the baby on the left leg and hold a storybook with the right hand, and so on. This is the number one fix to help moms to feel better, and get stronger throughout the entire body.

2) Strengthen Your Back

Try this move to strengthen your back and the back of your shoulders (another overworked muscle group for moms):

– Bentover Row to Reverse Fly

o Grab a 10 – 20# weight (or the baby in the car seat, or a gallon of water which weighs ~ 8 pounds). Bend forward from your hips and keep your back flat and straight. Contract your abs. Hold the weight in your right hand and straighten your arm down toward the floor. First, do a “row”: bend your elbow, keeping it close to your body and pull the weight up to your rib cage, then lower your arm straight down. Then do a “reverse fly”: keeping your arm straight, raise it out to the side with your palm down, then return to starting position. Keep your abs tight and back contracted throughout the entire movement.

3) Get Your Abs Fired Up
Try this move to strengthen every part of your abs: upper, lower and obliques:

– Smile Crunch

o Get down on the floor and lean back on your elbows with your legs straight. Now really contract your abs and lift your legs up – one at a time – about 6 -12″ above the floor. Hoover your legs, use your abs and HOLD this for about 30 seconds. Then (here’s the smile part J) make a little smile with your legs, half circles up and down, in a small controlled movement. Try to do 2 sets of 20 “smiles”. Have fun with this one!

4) Activate Your Hips and Glutes
This one is best with a resistance tube, but it can also work well with a towel wrapped around your legs and held tight for resistance.

– Out/In Heel Taps

o Sit down on a bottom stair, a stool, or a low chair. Wrap a resistance tube around each foot (put the center of the tube on top of your shoelaces, than wrap around each foot toward the inside; choke up on the tube for added resistance). Flex your feet and push your weight down through your heels. Then quickly take your feet “out, out, in, in” (right, left, right, left). Do

2 – 3 sets of 60 seconds each. This exercise will work your outer thigh, inner thigh and glutes.

5) Shape-up Your Shoulders

This one is great to build stronger, powerful shoulders – perfect for carrying those heavy car seats and diaper bags!

– Butterfly Lifts

o Hold a weight or a gallon of water (or a half gallon, this exercise can be hard) in each hand. Lift your arms straight out to the side and hold at shoulder level. Raise the weight slightly above then slightly below shoulder level. Perform 2 – 3 sets for 60 seconds each.

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