Quick Workout Tips For Moms On The Go
Tummy-flattening, core-strengthening moves you can do anytime, anywhere.
Clary Hilliard Gray (far right) with her two children and her mom Liz Hilliard.
Being a mom means busy schedules, and finding pockets of time to steal away for yourself. Clary Hilliard Gray, co-owner of Hilliard Studio Method and mother of a 2 and 4 year old, knows the importance of taking care of yourself so you can take care of your family. She offers the following tips for taking care of yourself during the baby days and how to stay strong as they grow.
Plank and push-ups are two of the most effective exercises you can perform and you can do them anytime, anywhere since they require nothing more than a floor and your own body. They are also safe for everyone, including expectant and postpartum moms.
Proper plank and push-ups fire into the four abdominal muscle groups to flatten your tummy, strengthen your back and work your chest, shoulders and even the front of your legs. The key is maintaining proper alignment while pushing yourself to your edge.
Stretch It Out, Baby!
Mothers of newborns and young children often need additional stretches to help open the chest and realign the body. Breastfeeding, carrying and simply cuddling your bundle of joy can cause the pectorals to shorten and throw your posture out of alignment. Try these Hilliard Studio Method stretches several times a day. Focus on your posture, breath and an engaged core to leave you sitting taller and feeling energized, ready to take on whatever comes at you, including a blowout!
Seated Chest Opener
1. Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position and sweep the arms behind the back.
2. Clasp the hands together and extend the arms as straight as you can. Open through the chest and drop the shoulders down away from the ears. Sit tall and imagine the top of your head reaching toward the ceiling.
3. Take a big breath in through the nose and as you exhale through the mouth, feel the shoulders drop down and the arms extend further out and slightly up.
4. Release the hands and sweep the arms in front of the chest clasping the fingers and rotating the palms to face away from you. Drop your chin to chest, pull your belly button in and round through the spine. Hold for a breath.
Repeat this series four or five times paying attention to the breath and keeping the abdominal muscles pulled in and down.
Standing Wall Stretch
1. Stand upright by an empty wall. Place your right hip and shoulder on the wall and extend your right arm straight out of the shoulder behind you placing your palm on the wall.
2. Begin to rotate your body and face away from the wall to feel a gentle stretch through the front of the pectorals, anterior deltoid and bicep.
3. Hold for five rounds of breath, then slowly step away from the wall to release your arm. Repeat on the left side.
Foam Roller Shoulder Sweeps
1. Lie on a roller (or a pool noodle or several large rolled beach towels) with your spine aligned on the roller vertically from the head to the tailbone. Make sure you are steady on the roller with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with your belly button pulled down to your spine. Begin with your arms extended down by your hips, palms facing up.
2. Inhale through the nose and slowly sweep your arms up past your head. Try to keep the arms just hovering the floor and parallel to the floor.
3. Exhale and repeat the same motion, lowering the arms to the start position by the hips. Repeat one full sweep eight-10 times.
Weighted Foam Roller Chest Opener
1. Place one set of heavy weights — eight, six or five pounds. If you have any sort of injury, start with no weights and make a fist until you can work up to three-pound weights and then heavy weights — on either side of the middle of a foam roller. Lie on the roller with your spine aligned in the same way you did for Shoulder Sweeps. Pick up the weights and bring them to your chest.
2. Extend the weights straight up out of your chest, palms facing. Inhale and slowly lower the weights down by the sides of your chest in a fly with palms facing the ceiling. Don't let the weights drop lower than your shoulders.
3. Exhale and slowly press the weights back together over your chest. Repeat 10 times, making sure your back is neutral and your core is engaged throughout.
Alternatively you can lie still on the roller with your arms extended to the sides with weights resting in your palms while your hands are on the floor. Keep your back strong and as close to the roller as you can. Move through deep inhales and exhales for three-five minutes.
Working Out with Baby
Until your baby is sleeping through the night, Hilliard Studio Method believes in sleeping when baby sleeps as often as you can. This means workouts have to happen when baby is up, fed, burped, changed … hurry, you have 30 minutes. In those early days, Hilliard Gray used to put her daughter Aubrey, now 4, in her bouncy seat in her mom, Liz Hilliard’s, personal training studio. Baby Aubrey would giggle as she watched her mama and “DeeDee” workout. Try it!
(Try the HSM Powerful Pregnancy video for a 30-minute workout at home.)
When Hilliard Gray’s son Cameron, now 2, came around, he didn’t want to be put down. So into the Ergo he went for a 10-minute leg session of pliés and other leg workouts. Leg work is perfect with baby in tow because you keep your shoulders over your hips, and alternate between holding still and moving up and down an inch. Just don’t forget the most important part: whether you’re working out or just walking with baby in his carrier, you must connect your core and pull your shoulders back.
Core connect by taking an inhale, lifting your shoulders up by your ears, exhale and drop them down your back, opening your chest and engaging through your middle back muscles. Take another inhale, and pull your belly button toward your spine and imagine you can pull your ribs closer together while maintaining the natural curvature of your spine. It takes practice but learning to work in this position not only helps flatten your tummy to fit into your pre-preggo jeans but it will also keep your back feeling healthy and pain free.
Now that Hilliard Gray’s kiddos are two and four, on days she can’t get into the studio, she streams Hilliard Studio Method’s workout videos at home during nap and quiet time.
Hilliard Studio Method’s streaming videos range from seven to 60 minutes, perfect for whatever length of time you have to spare! Check them all out here.