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When You Have 10 Minutes: Simple and effective exercises that tone your body that you can do at home in ten minutes without any equipment. Perfect pilates-like moves to help moms move their postpartum bodies!If you follow me on Instagram I’ve been teasing this new at-home workout series for a while. But in typical fashion since becoming a mother, things always take me longer than I anticipate. I’m 6.5 years in, so you think I would learn by now (eyerolling at myself). But I’ve finally got part one ready to help get us all started on our fitness journey to get our bodies moving. And if you haven’t seen my posts about this, here’s my mission with these workouts: all of us, but especially moms of small children, have a hard time finding time to exercise. Those of us that have no help REALLY have a hard time, because it means our little ones are always around. Most of us are sleep deprived and just trying to get through the day the best we can. The only free time we probably get is when our kids are sleeping, and we usually choose sleep ourselves during that time. Or we’re too tired to workout. Starting fitness programs at home can be problematic because we are easily distracted, we don’t hold ourselves accountable to stick with it, we don’t have equipment, and/or we don’t have someone there to help with proper form or remind us to breathe.

That’s why I wanted to share these workouts. My friend Amanda of Balanced Method Pilates is a really wonderful pilates instructor here in Los Angeles and I’ve done workouts in her studio off and on since I was pregnant with Calvin. I really enjoy working out on the reformer and pilates in general because it feels good on my body. Instead of bunching things up, it lengthens me out. Moms tend to be bunched up anyways — breastfeeding, baby wearing, stress, pregnancy, childbirth — our bodies go through so much. While I was working out with Amanda one day we were talking about how hard it is to fit in workouts and Amanda was explaining what a misconception it is that you need 45-60+ minutes to get in a good workout and that if you do a few specific exercises correctly you can get the same benefits from 10 minutes or 20 minutes. And that is how “When You Have 10 Minutes” was born. I have 10 minutes a few times a day. I think we all do. So we wanted to share how you can start small and fit in good toning workouts into each day. It is doable. These exercises require no equipment (although if you have a mat or bands, etc. you can incorporate those too). Our hope by the end of this series is that you will have a good foundation for full body workouts that you can easily and effectively do at home, on your schedule and within your circumstances. And they motivate me to keep up with my fitness on the 6 other days of the week that I’m not with Amanda. And on top of that I’m trying to fit in walks or other cardio and a hike once a week. Of course, always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially postpartum.

Here are 5 moves to start with to help tone your abs, butt, thighs, and hips:

When You Have 10 Minutes: Simple and effective exercises that tone your body that you can do at home in ten minutes without any equipment. Perfect pilates-like moves to help moms move their postpartum bodies!

 1. Bridging/Pelvic Roll

Wake up the spine and tight overworked lower back!  We have added an inner thigh squeeze for extra oomph!

  • Laying on your back with knees bent (add a towel or ball between the knees for support and extra inner thigh work)
  • Inhale to prep  – gently press your lower back into the floor/mat – peeling your tailbone up
  • Continue to peel each vertebrae off the floor (gently press back of shoulders into mat
  • The “top” of the movement – there is a straight diagonal line from your shoulder to your knee – DO squeeze your glutes (booty) – DONT over-arch your ribcage.
  • Starting behind the shoulder blades sink each vertebrae down (keeping your tailbone up till the last moment) – returning to start position

** Do 10-15 reps (or multiple sets of 10 reps)

Notes: add the towel/pillow/ball squeeze for inner thigh work – you can even hold at the “top” of the bridge and pulse squeeze the knees for 5-10 pulses before rolling back down. Make sure you keep your breathing even. We use this pattern: Inhale at the bottom, exhale while rolling up, inhale at the top, exhale while rolling down. Also make sure you feel that glute squeeze at the top of the bridge (much more effective).

 

When You Have 10 Minutes: Simple and effective exercises that tone your body that you can do at home in ten minutes without any equipment. Perfect pilates-like moves to help moms move their postpartum bodies!

 2. Abdominals Bowing/Chest Lift

Start the engine!  We work in “table top” legs (lift your knees directly above your hips and hold your shins/feet out like a flat table).  **If you are starting out with back issues or chronic pain you can place your feet on the ground with bent knees for this exercise.

  • Inhale to prep – gently tuck your chin (like you are holding an orange underneath)
  • Exhaling slowly – engage upper abs (near lower ribcage) and roll your head and shoulders up off the mat – reaching your arms past your hips and eyes focus on thighs
  • Inhale slowing rolling back to start position.

Notes:  if you have neck discomfort, you can place your hands behind your head for support, but DON’T pull on your head/neck to lift. The focus of this exercise is to engage the abdominals to do the work of lifting your head/neck/chest as one solid piece.

 

When You Have 10 Minutes: Simple and effective exercises that tone your body that you can do at home in ten minutes without any equipment. Perfect pilates-like moves to help moms move their postpartum bodies!

3. Abdominals: Bowing With Alternating Leg Stretches  

Kick in the lower abs!
(Modify this by starting with feet on mat, legs bent – then you will lift each bent knee up to table top – alternating legs as you lift your chest)

  • Laying on your back with legs up (or down), float your arms up in front of you (toward ceiling)
  • Inhale to prep – gently tuck your chin (like you are holding an orange underneath)
  • Exhaling slowly – engage upper abs (near lower ribcage) and roll your head and shoulders up off the mat – reaching your arms past your hips and eyes focus on thighs – AT THE SAME TIME reach your right leg out to a 45 degree angle.
  • Inhale slowing rolling back to start position, floating your leg back to table top.
  • Repeat the same sequence reaching the left leg out to 45 degree angles.

**  Alternating legs 10 reps (right leg & left leg = one rep)

Notes: modification will do what we call march. Lifting right bent knee up to single leg table top & down. Alternate legs (right knee + left knee = one rep). Try to keep your legs parallel (not turned out). You do not have to point your toes  – you can flex your feet if they have a tendency to cramp.

 

When You Have 10 Minutes: Simple and effective exercises that tone your body that you can do at home in ten minutes without any equipment. Perfect pilates-like moves to help moms move their postpartum bodies!

4. Side lying leg lifts: Hydrant

These are hip and booty busters! Form is important here, so please note: lay on your side with your hips and shoulders stacked on top of each other (imagine a wall behind your back) – DONT tuck your hips forward (NO fetal position/curl).

  • Lying on your side, gently pull your lower waistline off the mat (make a little mouse hole under there)
  • Knees are bent and stacked on top of each other
  • Keeping your upper body, abs and hips still & strong, lift your top leg up – making the leg crease just below your hip bone (not a crease at your waist)
  • Lower (controlled) the leg back to the start position.

** 10-25 reps (keep them slow and controlled) EACH side.

Notes: Arms/head – you can lay your bottom arm out straight or tuck it behind your head. Your top arm should lightly touch the mat in front of your abs (to remind you to keep them engaged/pulled up and in!)

 

When You Have 10 Minutes: Simple and effective exercises that tone your body that you can do at home in ten minutes without any equipment. Perfect pilates-like moves to help moms move their postpartum bodies!

5. Side Lying Leg Work: Small Circles

Just like the hydrant moves above form is important here, so please note: lay on your side with your hips and shoulders stacked on top of each other (imagine a wall behind your back) – DON’T tuck your hips forward (NO fetal position/curl).

  • Lying on your side, gently pull your lower waistline off the mat (make a little mouse hole under there)
  • Knees are bent and stacked on top of each other
  • Keeping your upper body, abs and hips still & strong, lift your top knee and foot up to hip height (like there is a small ball in between your knees)
  • Imagining a pencil attached to your knee, draw small circles with the top knee.
  • 10-15 circles in one direction, reversing the circle before you switch sides.

** 10-15 circles (keep them slow and controlled) EACH direction – then switch sides and repeat both circle directions.

Notes: Arms/head – you can lay your bottom arm out straight or tuck it behind your head. Your top arm should lightly touch the mat in front of your abs (to remind you to keep them engaged/pulled up and in!)

Now here is a video demonstration of each exercise, in case a visual helps you like it does me. I don’t love posting videos of myself working out but I think it makes for a more helpful post. So be kind 🙂

Need more inspiration, motivation, and instruction? Follow Balanced Method Pilates on Instagram, Facebook, and check out her website for rate info if you’re local (and tell her I sent ya for a special friend of Oh Lovely Day discount!)

As always, please consult your physician (especially postpartum!) before undertaking a new exercise routine and exercise at your own risk. This post should not be used to diagnose a medical condition, or replace your health care provider. However, we do hope to inspire you to become healthier, more self sufficient, and more aware of options. We hope to aid you in your own personal research and study.
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