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Mother and Baby

How High Intensity Interval Training can help shift your mum tum

Section: New mum fitness

If you are thinking about getting back to your pre-baby fitness levels, consider this form of exercise - a bit like old-fashioned circuits.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is proven to be the one of the more successful ways of burning excess body fat, particularly around the mid section.  

HIIT-style training takes your heart rate into different training zones, so your heart is working at different intensity levels. For example, you might do a cardio move like step ups, followed by strengthening exercise like a squat, followed by an abdominal exercise.  

Is HIIT appropriate for postnatal women?  

Yes and no – due to heavy mum boobs and weakened pelvic floor muscles. 

If you went along to a class at 6 weeks postnatal and did burpees, jumping jacks and jump squats, chances are, you’d feel quite uncomfortable and/or wee yourself.  

“Never stop focusing on your core/pelvic floor program”

It’s very important, when you’re a new mum, that you approach exercise in stages. Do some core strength work first (like Pilates) which focuses on pelvic alignment, pelvic floor, core, posture and stability, and then once you’ve got this mastered, then think about introducing some low-level cardiovascular training, resistance exercises. But never stop focusing on your core/pelvic floor program, as this forms the very foundation of your body’s unit.

Once you’ve built that solid foundation, and only after this (bear in mind this can take months, possibly even years for some women), you can then start thinking about upping the intensity of your workouts to something along the lines of HIIT.  

So, because it can takes several months before your body is ready to work at a higher intensity, it’s no wonder your mummy tummy doesn’t shift as quickly as you’d like it to.

Get ready for some hard work

HIIT is called High Intensity Interval Training, because it’s hard work. But, the hard work phases are shorter duration; you aren’t expected to train at a high intensity for 30 minutes – you simply wouldn’t be able to do it.

Pushing your buggy for 30 minutes at the same speed, along the same level route to the park and back for the same long-duration/low-intensity isn’t burning fat or improving your fitness level. 

However, if you were to push your buggy at a brisk walking pace for 2 minutes, then drop your pace down to a real plod for 1 minute, then you’ll be burning fat. This is the ‘IT’ part of HIIT.

By taking your heart rate into different training zones, and working at a higher intensity for some of your workout, mixing it up with shorter intervals of high intensity/work versus low-intensity/rest phases, and coupling it with some nasty resistance exercises that you know and love like lunges/squats/press ups, plus your foundation work for your core/pelvic floor, then you’re in business to shredding some serous body fat.

Dale Bell is the UK’s leading weight-loss coach to mums; sign up to his free daily weight-loss tips here.

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