Are we still ignoring the fact that strength training is key to reaching your postpartum fitness goals? I hope not!
Strength training is widely considered the best form of exercise for your postpartum fitness journey. And all thanks to its numerous benefits and long-term outcomes.
Pregnancy and childbirth bring significant changes to a woman’s body. Strength training plays a vital role in helping restore and rebuild strength and improve wellness during the postpartum period.
And while we’re on the topic of strength training. I hope that by now, we’ve moved passed the ridiculous myth that lifting heavy weights makes you look ‘manly. Because it doesn’t. In any way. And if you do believe that, you’re hindering yourself from achieving
Restoring Muscle Tone
Pregnancy and childbirth can lead to muscle imbalances and weakened core strength. After all, your body has gone through several changes to accommodate the growth and delivery of a baby.
These weakened muscles, particularly in the core, pelvic floor, and back, play a crucial role in providing stability and support for daily activities.
Strength training exercises specifically target these areas, helping to rebuild and strengthen the muscles, ultimately improving overall functional strength and stability.
Exercises, such as abdominal breathing exercises, bodyweight squats, and resistance band training, can help rebuild and restore muscle tone, particularly in your abdomen, back, and pelvic floor.
Studies show that some women will retain extra weight during the postpartum stage due to an increase in insulin resistance. Especially if they developed gestational diabetes in their prenatal period.
Strength training can enhance insulin sensitivity. This is the ability of cells to respond to insulin and efficiently transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells for energy. Without sufficient insulin, glucose (sugar) cannot enter the body’s cells to be used as energy. As a result, the body begins to break down muscle tissue for energy.
Building lean muscle mass through resistance exercises helps raise basal metabolic rate (BMR). This means that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest.
Incorporating strength training into your routine can help boost your lean muscle mass and increase metabolism, making it easier to manage your weight.
Improving Overall Functional Strength
You may not be fully aware, but your everyday movements mimic most functional exercises. The problem is, a lot of women aren’t moving their bodies in a functional way. Think of how you bend down to pick something up off the floor. Are you arching your back to compensate for weak muscles in your core? This puts you at risk of injury, which can be preventable with strength progression.
Motherhood demands physical strength for various activities. Like carrying your baby, lifting car seats, and handling everyday tasks like walking with heavy groceries. Movements like squats, deadlifts, and farmer’s carry are some of the many ways in which you can improve overall strength and move optimally as you go about your day.
Strength training enhances your functional strength, mobility, and flexibility, making these activities easier from day to day. You’d be surprised at how easier lifting a baby in a car seat can get, when you incorporate some simple movements like deadlifts and bicep curls into your workout routine.
Enhancing Energy Levels
The demands of motherhood can leave you feeling exhausted. If you’re a new mom, welcome to your new life! And if you’ve been here before, then you know you need ALOT of energy reserve to get through your day.
Whether it’s mental energy or physical energy, strength training can help provide you with the fortitude to help power you through your days, even the tough ones.
Engaging in regular strength training can increase energy levels and combat fatigue by improving cardiovascular fitness and releasing endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting hormones.
Enhancing Mental Well-Being
Speaking of mental energy, I’m a huge advocate for strength training as key to your postpartum fitness journey when it comes to your mental well-being. I’ve heard many stories of women using strength training to help pull them out of depression.
Although it may not be the one cure-all fix, the release of endorphins in the brain during and after strength training sessions can help alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, and enhance overall mood.
Regular physical activity can also improve sleep quality (which I’m sure you could use a lot of right now), increase energy levels, and enhance overall mental well-being during this transitional phase of motherhood.
Restoring Posture and Alignment
Pregnancy can lead to changes in posture and alignment due to weight gain and the shifting of the body’s center of gravity. And if that isn’t enough, many of these changes linger on into the postpartum stage, caused by carrying your growing baby, or hunching over improperly while breastfeeding.
Strength training exercises targeting the core, back, and glutes can help restore proper posture and alignment, reducing discomfort and potential long-term issues.
Pilates and yoga are low-intensity exercises focused on bodyweight resistance training. The movements allow you to focus on lengthening and strengthening those core muscles that help restore posture and alignment. I find that pairing either one of these into a strength training routine will give you a well-rounded program that will help strengthen those core muscles weakened during pregnancy.
Embrace the Benefits of Strength Training
As exciting as it might be to jump into a postpartum strength training routine, remember it’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any postpartum exercise program. They can provide personalized guidance based on individual circumstances, such as the type of delivery, recovery progress, and any specific health considerations.
While working with a postpartum fitness coach, gradually incorporate strength training into your routine, listen to your body, and enjoy the empowering benefits it brings to your postpartum fitness journey.