Wondering if you’re ready to return to running or HIIT training after pregnancy? This postpartum fitness test is for you. Follow along with this guided workout video, designed to assess strength, balance and impact tolerance. These are good indicators that your body is ready to slowly resume high impact exercises, like HIIT training or running postpartum.
“When can you start working out again after having a baby?”
This is a common question in my DMs and email inbox, and as with most things related to pregnancy and postpartum, there isn’t a black and white answer.
Postpartum recovery depends on so many factors: how active the pregnancy was, what your fitness level was pre-pregnancy, what the labor was like, whether there was tearing or a c-section…every experience really is different.
So we’ve developed this postpartum assessment to determine readiness to return to high impact physical activity post-pregnancy.
Note: it’s recommended you wait at least 12 weeks after birth before attempting running or high impact exercise.
When Can You Start Working Out After Having A Baby?
Every postpartum recovery period is different. Talk to your OB/GYN, physical therapist or midwife for medical clearance before starting exercise after birth, especially if you had any complications. I personally started doing postpartum core recovery exercises 2 weeks postpartum. Then I added in strength training workouts around 6 weeks postpartum. I slowly started adding in running and impact exercises around 15 weeks postpartum after passing this postpartum assessment.
How Do I Know If An Exercise Is Too Intense?
Pelvic pain, heaviness or leakage during the exercises in this Postpartum Fitness Test is an indicator your body isn’t quite ready to return to high impact training. That doesn’t mean not ever, it just means not yet. I suggest returning to low impact strength training and coming back to try this again in a few weeks
When Can I Start Running Postpartum?
I highly suggest strength training prior to running. Then take a fitness assessment like this one or Dr. Carrie Pagliano’s “Return to Run” check-list. I also followed a “Run/Walk” plan from my pelvic floor physical therapist, Dr. Sari at Motion MN. The key with running postpartum is to take it slow – run no more than every other day and gradually progress running volume. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD) has more to do with running volume than pelvic floor strength. If running feels uncomfortable, return to walking.
What Are The Benefits of Postpartum Exercise?
Exercise during the postpartum period can promote better sleep, lessen risk of postpartum depression, and boost energy. For me personally, exercise is something that made me feel like myself again.
Postpartum Fitness Test
(Do This Before HIIT or Running Postpartum)
Assess your readiness to return to HIIT training or running postpartum with this guided Postpartum Fitness Assessment.
This fitness test assesses strength, balance and impact tolerance: three indicators that your body is able to increase workout intensity.
I personally attempted this fitness test multiple times before adding impact back into my workouts, starting around 15 weeks postpartum.
You’ll know you have “passed” this assessment when you can complete all the exercises without symptoms like pelvic floor heaviness, pain or leakage. That’s when you can slowly start adding running and HIIT training back to your workout plan.
No equipment needed, just your bodyweight. Option to add a small elevated surface (such as a yoga block or thick book) for two exercises.
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Targets: The entire core, including the deep transverse abs, upper abs, lower abs and lower back.
How To Do A Forearm Plank
Start kneeling on the ground — forearms on the mat, shoulders stacked over elbows.
Step both feet back, forming a long line from head to tailbone.
Squeeze your abs and pull up on your knee caps to engage your core. Avoid “piking” hips up or letting hips drop. Focus on keeping a neutral spine.
Targets: Gluteus medius (which lays on the outer edge of the buttocks and is responsible for stabilizing your pelvis), gluteus minimus (hip extension), pelvic floor muscles, obliques and core.
Clamshell exercises can help balance the muscular effort between your inner and outer thighs and your pelvic floor.
How To Do Advanced Clamshell
Lie on one side, with legs stacked and knees bent at a 45-degree angle, soles of the feet to touch.
Rest on the forearm of the lower arm, shoulder stacked over elbow.
Exhale to engage the core and stabilize your spine and pelvic floor.
Keeping your feet touching, use your outer glutes and hips to lift your resting hip off the floor. Simultaneously as you lift your hips off the floor, open your legs, raising your upper knee as high as you can without shifting your hips or pelvis (mimicking a clam shell opening).
Pause, and hold at the top of the movement for a moment. Then return to the starting position.
Single Leg Wall Sit
Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, hamstrings and core
Wall sits are a great way to build (and test) lower body strength. The unilateral (or single leg) version reveals muscle imbalances.
How To Do A Single Leg Wall Sit
Start standing against a wall, feet hip distance apart.
Find a wall sit by sliding your back down the wall and bending your knees to a 90-degree angle, thighs parallel to the floor.
Float your left heel off the ground, transferring your weight to your right leg.
Single Leg Glute Bridge
Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, hips and pelvic floor.
How To Do A Single Leg Glute Bridge
Start laying on your back, right foot planted on the floor, left foot extended straight overhead (ankle stacked over knee).
Press through your heels to lift your glutes off the mat, squeezing your glutes as you lift. Think about keeping your core engaged and knees in line with your hips.
Exhale, slowly lowering your hips to hover an inch above the mat.
Single Leg Deadlift
Targets: The posterior chain (backside of body) — glutes, hamstrings, lower back and core muscles. This single leg stability exercise will also challenge your balance.
How To Do A Single Leg Deadlift
Start standing with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Transfer your weight into your right foot and kickstand or float your left foot off the ground. Balancing on your right leg.
With your right knee bent, hinge at your hips (hip flexors), extending your left leg long behind you as you lower your left fingers down towards the ground; balancing on your right leg. Keep your hips square to the mat.
You should feel a good stretch in your right hamstring (back of your right leg) at the bottom of this movement. Range of motion looks different for everyone.
Then drive through your front right heel, squeezing your glutes and hamstrings to push your hips forward and return to the starting position. Bringing your floating back left leg up to meet your right leg again.
Single Leg Step Down
Targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, knees, pelvic floor and core.
If you don’t have a yoga block, you can sub a thick book or the bottom step of a staircase.
How To Do A Single Leg Step Down
Start standing, right foot placed on an elevated surface (yoga block or thick book), left leg floating out to the left side.
Bend your right knee to lower your hips, lowering your left heel to tap the ground. Imagine you’re performing a tiny squat on the right leg. Focus on keeping your right knee pushed out towards the outer three toes of your right foot.
Press through your right heel to stand tall, returning to starting position.
Single Leg Calf Raise
Targets: Hamstrings, glutes, hips and calves.
How To Do A Single Leg Calf Raise
Start standing, feet hip-width apart. Float your left foot off the ground, transferring your weight to your right foot.
Perform a calf raise by rising up on the toes of your right foot, squeezing the muscle in your right calf at the top.
With control, lower down to starting position.
Run In Place
Targets: Pelvic floor, hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings and core.
This is an opportunity to test for any heaviness, pain or leakage during impact exercises.
How To Run In Place
Start standing, feet hip distance apart, shoulders over hips.
Drive your right knee up, then quickly switch to your opposite foot, driving your left knee up. Both feet are constantly in motion.
Option to travel, moving forward 3-4 steps and then running backwards 3-4 steps to return to starting position.
Pin This Workout: Postpartum Running and HIIT Test
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