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I have been asked a lot lately about how and when i started doing my strength and high intensity training, so here’s a quick recap.
I started working out around five months after the twins were born (via c-section). My sole focus of those first few months was to ensure I had my babies in a good routine at home and that they were in a good sleeping and feeding pattern. It was around this time that I knew I needed to get back into some form of exercise, because I was feeling extremely emotionally and physically drained. I needed some ‘me time’ back and the reality was, I couldn’t run that well anymore. My core was weak, my back hurt and I was breastfeeding – so I really didn’t enjoy running like I used to. I felt like Daisy the Cow full of milk trying to trot along with a large pram in tow. Running had always been my go-to exercise, but the short answer was, it didn’t feel the same and if I wanted to take the kids – it would take me an hour to get sorted and I just wanted something ‘easy’.
I reached out to a professional to educate me on strength training and high intensity interval training. I learnt technique, I got familiar with some workouts and I joined in on a few crossfit classes here and there. Soon enough, the classes got too tricky and time consuming for me to get to – so I started focusing on doing my own workouts at home using the foundations of what I’d learnt.
I didn’t have an hour a day, but I knew I had 15 minutes and after learning the benefits of HIIT and strength training, I felt like I was getting in a great workout within that time. My body was changing. It was becoming more toned, I felt stronger, my body fat levels were dropping and it was working. On an emotional level, I had more patience, I had more energy, everything just started feeling clearer and to some extent, easier. I set myself a goal of doing 3 x 15 minute workouts per week and I’ve been doing that (with an occasional week off now and again) for the last 15 months. I’m feeling fitter, stronger and leaner than ever before (even when I used to run marathons!)
As I set myself a goal of 15 minutes, I love workouts that are time based, rather than a number of reps. In saying that, I still absolutely do a number of reps now and again, but I think a great way to start is by doing time based workouts.
When you set yourself a ‘time’ to work for – it doesn’t matter how many reps you do, it’s more about working a high intensity for YOU and your fitness level. You need to push yourself as it’s only a short amount of workout time but you get a small break alongside it. The rest is just as important, as it’s about getting our heart rate up and then back down and it also ensures your technique is kept on point.
My favourite time based workout is a circuit called ‘Tabata’. Tabata is based on working at a high intensity for 20 seconds and then having a 10 second rest for a four minute round. I generally try and do 3 or 4 rounds giving me a 12-16min workout. There are a number of Tabata Timers available on Itunes that will prompt you when to work and when to rest. The one I use is called Tabata Pro (around $3 on iTunes!) I like it because I can adapt to it various time based workouts and it allows me to play my music during the workout (I may even dance in some of my breaks. I’m a good dancer, no not really… My kids are pretty honest and tell me to stop).
When I was initially starting out, I really focused on technique and just got used to moving my body. I would squat, lunge, do push ups etc at a comfortable pace (often when the twins were eating in their high chairs!). Once I felt more confident in performing the movements – that’s when I would bump up the intensity and either speed up, add weights or let my kids join in. It’s also when instead of performing a normal air squat, I would turn it into a jump squat. It requires more power and agility. Same goes with lunges, I’d aim to do jumping lunges once I felt comfortable and confident in doing normal walking lunges.
Technique is key. If you’re serious about wanting to start doing your own exercise at home, I do recommend in investing in a personal trainer / strength and conditioning coach for a few sessions. Some of us can’t afford private sessions every week, but if you make contact with a professional in your area and tell them you want some ‘technique’ sessions – I’m sure they would be more than happy to help on a short term basis. Perhaps you could get a few other mums together and do a group technique session once a week for a month to learn the basics. If you’re based on the Gold Coast, I can give some good recommendations.
When it comes to abdominal separation, hernias or pelvic floor issues post baby, again – see a post natal physio or professional of your choice. Invest in a consultation with them and see where you’re at. Yes, I had muscle separation and I healed it with my strength work. I don’t believe you have to STOP exercise altogether in general, there are always ways to scale movements back and keep your body gently moving during recovery. Seek professional advice and be guided by them.
Here’s some of my favourite time based workouts:
20 secs high intensity work
10 secs rest
1 minute break between each round:
20 secs high intensity work
10 secs rest
1min break between rounds
HIIT time based workout:
40 seconds work, 20 secs rest for 3 rounds
2 x rounds
25 flutter kicks
25 toe touches
HIIT Time based workout:
1 minute at each station
1 minute rest, repeat x 3 rounds
Rep based workout
3-5 rounds (some days, i would just sim for 3 rounds, others i would bump it up to 5)
12 x squats
12 x push ups
12 x dips
12 x Step ups (on a coffee table or park bench!)
There are also plenty of my workouts on my social media pages that are time based. Tabata is my best friend though! I like to work my entire body, so I generally try and choose exercises that work my legs, upper body and core (abs) in every session.
These sessions plus a diet filled with loads of clean, wholefoods are the foundations of my health and fitness journey.
*All of the workouts and advice are based on my own personal experiences. I am not a personal trainer or coach.