With your doctor’s OK, begin doing this workout 1–2 days per week, gradually increasing the number of days as you get stronger (just be sure to take a day off in between). You can do cardio exercise on the same or alternate days. Do 1 set of 10–15 repetitions for each exercise in the given order, resting 30 seconds between moves. Begin by doing these moves without weights, then try using 3- to 5-pound dumbbells or Spri Mini Contour-Weights (www.amazon.com). When you feel strong enough, add the Bonus Move to each rep to increase intensity.
If possible, go for a 10- to 15-minute walk (with your baby in a stroller or carrier) to warm up your muscles, or dance with your baby to get your heart rate up a bit. Then roll your shoulders forward and back, and do wrist and ankle rolls clockwise, then counterclockwise, 5 times each way.
1. Plies and Presses Stand with feet wider than hips, toes and knees turned out. Raise arms over head and bend elbows to bring weights behind your head. Squeeze buttocks and draw in abs and pelvic-floor muscles. Bend knees, lowering hips without rocking them forward or back and straighten your arms. Return to starting position by straightening legs and bending elbows. Do 10–15 reps. Bonus move: Lift your heels as you bend your legs and straighten your arms.
2. Walking Lunges With Curls Stand with your arms at your sides, holding dumbbells, palms facing in, feet hip-width apart. Keeping shoulders relaxed and abs drawn in, take a big step forward with your right leg, bending both knees 90 degrees. Keep right knee over right ankle, left knee approaching the floor, but not touching. Bend elbows, curling the weights toward shoulders (shown). Straighten arms, then push off your back foot to the starting position. Do 10–15 reps, alternating legs (1 rep equals 1 lunge on each side). Bonus move: Do a knee lift before you step forward with each leg.
3. Side Lunges With Rows Holding 2 dumbbells in your right hand, stand with feet hip-width apart, abs and pelvic-floor muscles drawn in. Take a big step to the left, bending the knee, left hand on thigh for support, right arm hanging straight down. Keep your right leg straight and your foot flat. Bend your right elbow, bringing the weight to your upper ribs. Lower the weight and push off on your left foot to starting position. Complete reps then switch sides. Bonus move: Bend your knee deeper and touch your front ankle at the bottom of the lunge.
4. Bridges and Presses Lie on your back, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your knees and rest your feet flat on the floor, keeping your abs and pelvic-floor muscles drawn in. Bend your elbows and place your upper arms on the floor, your forearms vertical and parallel to each other. Straighten your arms, pressing the weights up in front of your chest. Bend your elbows and lower the weights, then, with your knees bent, lift your hips, pressing your heels into the floor until your body forms one straight line from your head to your hips. Lower your hips and complete reps. Bonus move: Hold your hips up in this “bridge” while you do the press.
5. Leg Lifts With Knee Pulls Kneel on all fours with a weight in each hand, hands wider than your shoulders, your knees under your hips and your abs and pelvic-floor muscles drawn in. Keeping your abs drawn in and your neck long, lift your right leg out behind you at hip height, squeezing your buttocks. Pull your right knee in toward your chest and draw in your abs. Lift your leg back to hip height and complete reps. Switch legs and repeat. Bonus move: As you lift your leg to hip height, bend your elbows, bringing your chest toward the floor and do a push-up.
Stretch your legs, hips, back, chest and arms, holding each stretch for 30 seconds without bouncing. Be sure to breathe deeply; in through your nose and out of your mouth, drawing your belly in.