​ ​
post featured image

9 Postpartum Exercises to Build Strength At Home (30-Minute Full Body Workout)

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.

There are several benefits to postpartum exercise.

One of the many reasons we created a Free, 30-Day Postpartum Workout Plan!

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: 

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
Dumbbell Squat | Postpartum Exercises to Build Strength At Home

9 Postpartum Exercises To Build Strength At Home (30-Minute Postpartum Workout)

In my opinion, the best postpartum exercises are: 

  1. Diastasis Recti (DR) Safe Core Strengthening Exercises
  2. Pelvic Floor Strengthening Exercises
  3. Full Body Functional Strength Training Exercises
  4. Mobility Exercises Moving Joints Through All Planes of Motion

And you get ALL four in this 30-minute, full body post-pregnancy workout at home. Add this to your weekly fitness routine 1-2 times a week.

Workout Equipment:

Set of dumbbells.

I recommend 5-15 lbs depending on your fitness level. I’m using 15 lb dumbbells and Katelyn is using 5-10 lb dumbbells.

Workout Instructions:

I’ll coach you through the nine full body postpartum exercises, keeping track of the timed intervals, providing form cues and modifications.

Alternatively, work through the nine postpartum exercises below at your own pace.

The Workout Looks Like This:

  • 3 Circuits
  • 3 Moves Per Circuit (Upper Body, Lower Body and Core)
  • 40 Seconds Work Per Exercise, 20 Seconds Rest
  • Repeat Each Circuit x 2 Sets

9 Postpartum Exercises in a 30-Minute Postnatal Workout

CIRCUIT ONE: Back + Biceps + Legs + Glutes + Quads + Core

  1. Upper Body: Stack On Back Rows + Bicep Curls (Neutral Grip + Reverse Grip)
  2. Lower Body: 2-Pulse Squat + Loaded Squat Walk (Front/Back)
  3. Core: Half Kneeling Dumbbell Front Raise (Option to add rotation right/left)

Repeat x2 Sets

CIRCUIT TWO: Chest + Shoulders + Legs + Glutes + Core

  1. Upper Body: Child’s Pose Push Up (Beginner) / Launcher Plank Push Up (Advanced)
  2. Lower Body: Reverse Lunge + Lateral Lunge (Right/Left)
  3. Core: Single Sided Dead Bug (Beginner) / Dead Bug with Single Arm Chest Press Right/Left (Advanced)

Repeat x2 Sets

CIRCUIT THREE: Triceps + Glutes + Hamstrings + Core + Obliques 

  1. Upper Body: Single Arm Tricep Kickback (Right/Left)
  2. Lower Body: Staggered Deadlift + Staggered Squat (Right/Left)
  3. Core: Modified Side Plank Hip Lifts (Right/Left)

Repeat x2 Sets

BONUS BURNOUT MOVE — Glute Bridges (40 seconds) + Glute Bridge Hold (20 seconds)

9 Best Postpartum Exercises

1. Stack On Back Rows + Bicep Curls

Targets: Back muscles, biceps and core.

how to do a dumbbell back row and bicep curl | postpartum exercise

How to do Stack On Dumbbell Back Rows + Bicep Curls:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in towards each other.
  2. Hinge forward at the hips maintaining a flat back.
  3. 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.
  4. Hold at the top for a moment squeezing your shoulder blades together. With control, lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

loaded squat walk | low impact exercises at home

How to do 2-Pulse Squat + Loaded Squat Walk:

  1. Start by placing both dumbbells on the mat, stacked vertically on top of one another.
  2. Stand with feet hip-distance apart, one foot on each side of the dumbbell closest to the back of the mat.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Again reach down to pick up the dumbbell, pulse for two squats and return the dumbbell to the mat.
  7. 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.

Half Kneeling Dumbbell Front Raise | Diastasis Recti Safe Ab Exercises

How to do a Half Kneeling Dumbbell Front Raise:

  1. 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.
  2. Hold one dumbbell horizontally, one head of the dumbbell in each hand, at your hips.
  3. Perform a pelvic tilt, tucking your tailbone underneath your hips to engage your abdominal muscles.
  4. With core engaged, exhale as you lift the dumbbell up to shoulder height, arms straight in front of you.
  5. 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.

Child's Pose Push Up (Beginner Postpartum Workout) or Launcher Plank Push Up (Advanced Postpartum Workout) 

How to do a Child’s Pose Push Up or Launcher Plank Push Up:

  1. Start in high plank position on your toes or a modified plank from your knees.
  2. 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.
  3. Then explosively drive your body back into plank position, or modified plank, shooting your nose towards your fingertips.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

lateral lunge and reverse lunge | low impact workout

How to do a Lateral Lunge and Reverse Lunge:

  1. Start standing, feet hip width apart, slightly bent knees. Holding one dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  2. 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.
  3. Then, drive off your right foot to reverse the movement, pushing back to center.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Dead Bug | Diastasis Recti safe postpartum ab exercises

How to do Single Sided Dead Bug:

  1. Lie on your back with your arms extended directly overhead and legs bent to 90 degrees (knees above hips).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

single arm tricep kickback | postnatal exercise

How to do a Single Arm Tricep Kickback:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. ‘Kickback’, extending the right elbow so your right arm forms a straight line as you push the dumbbell back past your hips.
  4. 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.

staggered deadlift and squat | postpartum strength workout

How to do a Staggered Deadlift and Staggered Squat:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, hold one dumbbell in each hand at your hips, palms facing in towards your body.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Drive through your front right heel to push your hips forward, pulling the dumbbells back up towards your hips as you stand tall.
  5. Maintain this staggered stance as you then lower your hips down, sitting back into a staggered squat.
  6. Again, push through the heel of your front right foot to return to standing.
  7. 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).

Modified Side Plank Hip Lifts | Diastasis Recti Safe ab exercises

How to do Modified Side Plank Hip Lifts:

  1. 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.
  2. Engage your core and obliques as you lift your hips off the mat.
  3. Hold at the top as you squeeze your inside, right oblique muscles.
  4. 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.

How soon postpartum can I exercise?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), in general, it is safe to start exercising when you feel ready. This can range from a few weeks postpartum, 6-8 weeks post-baby, or months later. You know your body best.

dead bug exercise | Diastasis Recti safe core exercises post-baby

What are the best postpartum exercises to start with? 

As a certified personal trainer with two of my own children, I recommend starting with:

  1. Transverse Abdominal Breathing and Diastasis Recti Safe Core Exercises: 10-Minute Diastasis Recti Workout
  2. Low Impact Aerobic Activity: Walking, Yoga, Cardio Barre or 10-Minute Bodyweight Beginner Cardio
  3. Strength Training: like this workout and the postnatal strength workouts found in my Free Postpartum Workout Plan.

For more details about working out after baby, strengthening your pelvic floor and Diastasis Recti see my interview with my pelvic floor physical therapist. 

Pork is Simple, Versatile and Healthy

Three reasons I love sharing pork recipes from the Minnesota Pork Board (MPB):

  1. Pork is simple to cook (and best when cooked to 145 degrees).
  2. It has a big flavor profile (that goes well with Hispanic, Asian, and Mediterranean dishes alike).
  3. Pork is full of nutrients.
Pulled Pork Recipe

Nutritional Benefits of Pork

Pork is an excellent source of protein and provides several important vitamins and minerals. A 3-ounce serving of pork is an “excellent” source of:

  • Protein: supports muscle growth.
  • Selenium: supports thyroid health.
  • Vitamin B-6: supports mood and brain health.
  • Zinc: supports tissue repair and maintenance of a healthy immune system.
  • Beta-alanine: form of amino acid found in pork and a crucial element in muscle development.

If you follow me on social you know my go-to pork recipe is this Smoked Pull Pork Recipe from The Real Food Dietitians (pictured above)! It’s the perfect family-friendly recipe that feeds a crowd or leaves you with lots of meal prep leftovers.

Get more family-friendly pork recipes from the Minnesota Pork Board here!

This is a sponsored post in partnership with the Minnesota Pork Board. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Nourish Move Love, making the content you see on this blog possible.

Pin these 9 Postpartum Exercises (30 Minute Postpartum Workout)

9 Postpartum Exercises After Baby | Low Impact Strength Workout

More Postpartum Exercises + Postnatal Workouts:

no comments