The real-world mom workout

Motherhood requires muscles. This workout will help get you strong enough to handle whatever (or whoever) life throws at you!
Published December 5, 2015

If you’ve ever had to peel a screaming toddler from the grocery store floor, lug a baby carrier up a few flights of stairs or serve as a human jungle gym for young children, you know that motherhood is a physically demanding job. And if you’re carrying extra lbs on your frame or are unused to exercise, the challenges can feel that much harder.

A good rule of thumb? Make sure you can safely lift as much as your heaviest child. That might sound like a lot (especially if you’re mom to, say, a 38-lb 3-year-old), but it’s actually manageable if you follow these simple, mom-designed moves.

The muscles for motherhood workout

This  workout was created specifically to strengthen the muscles you use most as a mama to lift and carry your kids. Do it in the comfort of your home, with or without the added weight of your children. As they get older, encourage them to join in. Any time you can get the kids involved in fitness, the whole family benefits.

Pick at least one exercise for your upper and lower body and do as many rounds as you can in 10 minutes. What does this look like? Do 10 walking lunges followed by 10 push-ups, then perform the one-minute plank. Repeat this circuit of exercises for 10 minutes. Focus on proper form and engage your core. As you get stronger, gradually include all of the exercises and increase your overall workout time to 20 minutes. 

Target: Kid-lifting muscles

10 walking lunges

Begin with feet shoulder width apart. Take one large step forward, lowering hips toward the floor with both knees bent to an almost 90 degree angle. Keep your front knee directly over your ankle; do not allow your knee to get ahead of your toe. Your back knee should be almost to the floor, but not touching. Push off with rear foot, stand tall and step through to begin lunge on the other side. Keep your spine long, engage your core muscles, and stay in control.

10 squats

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed forward, eyes focused straight ahead. Sit back into mid-air, maintaining an upright position (shoulders back, spine straight), and keeping your knees behind your toes. Descend as far as possible while maintaining good form. Return to an upright position, engaging gluts and quads

Target: Kid-carrying muscles

10 pushups

Starting from a face-down position on floor, prop yourself up on hands and toes, elbows bent and upper arms extended out from body at 90 degrees; keep core engaged and spine straight. (Drop to your knees if necessary.) Lower yourself to starting position and repeat. For a bigger challenge, invite the kids to climb on.

10 chair dips

Begin with palms on the edge of a chair, fingers wrapped around seat, feet flat on the floor in front of you, knees bend. Slowly lower butt toward the floor by bending arms, keeping elbows directly over your wrists. Straighten arms, raising butt and engaging triceps. Move feet farther out for a bigger challenge.

Target: Core muscles

1-minute plank

Protect your back with a strong core. Begin on the floor on elbows and knees, elbows under your shoulders. Step feet back, positioning weight over toes. Engage core and maintain a straight line from the crown of the head through the tailbone and all the way to your heels. (Too difficult? Drop to knees and reposition to form a straight line from crown of the head to the knees.) Increase difficulty by supporting weight of your child on your back.

Related: 5 Moves that turn the playground into a gym