Nine of the best postpartum exercises to build strength at home. Whether you’re a couple months postnatal or several years post-baby; this 30-minute full body strength workout is a safe and low-impact workout you can do at home with dumbbells.
A quick Google search will tell you that postpartum weight loss is one of the greatest benefits of exercising after baby. But I think the two largest benefits of postnatal exercise are:
Rebuilds muscle and physical strength so you can perform daily activities of motherhood with ease and avoid injury (including: holding, wearing or carrying your baby for extended periods of time, transferring your baby in a car seat, pushing a stroller).
Improve your mood, increase energy levels, relieve stress and help prevent postpartum depression.
Which is why I was so excited to have Katelyn from the Minnesota Pork Board (MPB) join me in the studio to shoot this 30-minute postpartum workout.
I specifically designed these nine postpartum exercises for Katelyn who is three months post-baby in this workout.
That said, this full body strength workout is scalable for ALL FITNESS LEVELS!
Follow Katelyn (on the left) for the beginner postpartum workout modifications.
Follow me, Lindsey (on the right), for intermediate to advanced strength training options.
9 Postpartum Exercises To Build Strength At Home (30-Minute Postpartum Workout)
How to do Stack On Dumbbell Back Rows + Bicep Curls:
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in towards each other.
Hinge forward at the hips maintaining a flat back.
Pull the dumbbells towards your hips (think of pulling from your elbow versus your wrist). Stop once your elbows are in line with your rib cage, making a straight line from shoulder to elbow.
Hold at the top for a moment squeezing your shoulder blades together. With control, lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
Then, return to standing and curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders. Maintain a hammer curl grip (palms facing in towards each other) for the bicep curl.
Repeat this pattern, adding on a row and a curl each time you do the movement. So start with 1 row, 1 curl, then 2 rows, 2 curls, and so on.
2. 2-Pulse Squat + Loaded Squat Walk (Front/Back)
Targets: Legs, glutes, quads and core.
How to do 2-Pulse Squat + Loaded Squat Walk:
Start by placing both dumbbells on the mat, stacked vertically on top of one another.
Stand with feet hip-distance apart, one foot on each side of the dumbbell closest to the back of the mat.
Sit your hips down and back into a squat position as you reach one hand down to pick up the dumbbell on the mat between your legs.
Pulse up and down two times while holding the dumbbell between your legs in the loaded squat position. Then return the dumbbell to the mat.
Stay low, holding the loaded squat position as you walk your feet forward (right foot, then left foot) so the front dumbbell is now between your legs.
Again reach down to pick up the dumbbell, pulse for two squats and return the dumbbell to the mat.
Repeat this pattern staying low in the legs the entire time.
3. Half Kneeling Dumbbell Front Raise (Optional Rotation)
Targets: Deep core muscles (transverse abdominis), obliques and shoulders.
How to do a Half Kneeling Dumbbell Front Raise:
Start in a half kneeling position — left knee bent at 90 degrees, left foot on the mat in front of you and right knee bent at 90 degrees on the ground underneath your hips.
Hold one dumbbell horizontally, one head of the dumbbell in each hand, at your hips.
Perform a pelvic tilt, tucking your tailbone underneath your hips to engage your abdominal muscles.
With core engaged, exhale as you lift the dumbbell up to shoulder height, arms straight in front of you.
Hold for a moment then lower the dumbbell with control.
4. Child’s Pose Push Up (Beginner) / Launcher Plank Push Up (Advanced)
Targets: Full body with an emphasis on the arms, chest, shoulders, triceps and core.
How to do a Child’s Pose Push Up or Launcher Plank Push Up:
Start in high plank position on your toes or a modified plank from your knees.
From this plank position, engage your core as you push your hips back towards your heels. From your knees you’ll push your hips back into child’s pose. From your toes you’ll bend at the knees.
Then explosively drive your body back into plank position, or modified plank, shooting your nose towards your fingertips.
Hold plank as you lower your chest towards the ground to perform a push up (from your knees or toes). Elbows falling back towards your body.
Press back up to plank and return to the starting position.
5. Lateral Lunge + Reverse Lunge
Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, outer glutes, inner thighs and core.
How to do a Lateral Lunge and Reverse Lunge:
Start standing, feet hip width apart, slightly bent knees. Holding one dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
Step your right leg out to the side as you push your hips back, bending your right knee while leaving your left leg straight. Think of performing a single leg squat with your right leg while your left leg remains straight. Dumbbells frame right foot with knees and toes pointing forward.
Then, drive off your right foot to reverse the movement, pushing back to center.
Once standing, step your left leg back into a reverse lunge, dropping your left knee down towards the ground as you lower your hips until both knees reach a 90 degree angle, front thigh parallel to the floor.
Then squeeze your right leg glute, driving your back, left leg forward as you stand up. Back to the starting position.
6. Single Sided Dead Bug (Optional Chest Press)
Targets: Deep transverse abs, rectus abdominis and obliques.
How to do Single Sided Dead Bug:
Lie on your back with your arms extended directly overhead and legs bent to 90 degrees (knees above hips).
Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this dead bug exercise will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this ab exercise will be.
Keeping low back pressed into the floor (pelvic tilt), brace core and slowly and simultaneously extend the right leg straight and left arm straight overhead.
Then return to the starting position and repeat this arm and leg extension.
7. Single Arm Tricep Kickback
Targets: The tricep muscles, the back of the upper arm, and core.
How to do a Single Arm Tricep Kickback:
Start with feet hip distance apart, slightly bend knees and hinge forward. Option to stagger the feed to support the lower back (as pictured above).
Hold one dumbbell in your right hand at your side (palm facing your body) with your right arm bent at a 90-degree angle. Think shoulders down and back away from your ears.
‘Kickback’, extending the right elbow so your right arm forms a straight line as you push the dumbbell back past your hips.
With control, slowly return the dumbbell to the starting position.
8. Staggered Deadlift and Staggered Squat
Targets: Legs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, hips, core and low back muscles.
How to do a Staggered Deadlift and Staggered Squat:
Stand with feet hip-width apart, hold one dumbbell in each hand at your hips, palms facing in towards your body.
Stagger your feet, so your right leg is slightly in front of your left foot. Kickstand your back left foot, left heel floating off the ground. Keep 80% of your weight in your front foot, 20% in your back left toe.
Maintain a staggered stance as you hinge at the hips. Pushing your hips back towards the wall behind you as you glide the dumbbells down the front of your legs.
Drive through your front right heel to push your hips forward, pulling the dumbbells back up towards your hips as you stand tall.
Maintain this staggered stance as you then lower your hips down, sitting back into a staggered squat.
Again, push through the heel of your front right foot to return to standing.
Think of it as performing a single leg deadlift and single leg squat on your right leg.
9. Modified Side Plank Hip Lifts
Targets: Abs, core, obliques, hips and outer glutes (gluteus medius).
How to do Modified Side Plank Hip Lifts:
Start in a modified side plank or knee down side plank. Right forearm on the mat, right shoulder stacked over right elbow and right knee on the ground with left leg extended long. Option to place your left hand behind your head.
Engage your core and obliques as you lift your hips off the mat.
Hold at the top as you squeeze your inside, right oblique muscles.
Then return to the starting position by lowering your right hip back to the mat with control.
Postpartum Exercise FAQs: How soon postpartum can I exercise?
Note:Every pregnancy and postpartum recovery journey is so different (from vaginal deliveries to cesarean births). Exercise post-pregnancy varies based on a variety of factors (including how active you were pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy). I always recommend checking in with your doctor or midwife before beginning postpartum exercise.