This is a great question that we as trainers are often asked. Unfortunately there isn’t a simple answer, as everyone is different!! However, I can definitely give you some answers to apply to your personal situation!
Firstly we need to define what results are…. Is the result; weight loss, regaining your pre-pregnancy body, being able to complete a 5km run, or simply to feel fitter! Once you know what you goal is, it’s much easier to then determine how much training you need to do!
Secondly, you need to be honest with yourself – how much exercise are you currently doing? Look back at the week just gone, and write down exactly what exercise you did. Now we have our baselines!
Once you realistically know how much exercise you are doing currently and the results you would like to see – you can start to plan how much exercise you need to do, to see results.
Our body is very clever, and works to become efficient at what it does. So if you do the same exercise every single day, you will initially see improvement in your fitness – and then overtime you will recognise that your body has become efficient, and the current volume/intensity of the exercise isn’t improving you fitness/helping you lose weight etc. There are some simple ways to overcome this. The first step is to mix up your exercise – this is one of the key reasons we choose to include a variety of activities in your Shape Up Mums sessions. From cardio, interval, strength, boxing, core – you will keep your body working by changing the type and intensity of the exercise. Secondly, you need to ensure that you change the intensity and frequency/length of exercise. If you always walk 20 minutes everyday, your body becomes efficient! Choosing to attend 2 group fitness session, you will increase the intensity and length of exercise.
Below are a couple of cases, which might help you:
Janet has 2 children, one is 4 and the other is about to turn 2 years old. Since giving birth to her second child, she has struggled to find time to exercise. She occasionally finds time to walk, however most of her ‘exercise’ is chasing after her two children. She is keen to attend classes/scheduled exercise, as she feels she need to be accountable to other people! Her current goal is to improve her fitness, and feel ‘healthier.’
Recommendation: Given that Janet is not currently exercising, any increase will improve her health and fitness. I would initially recommend she schedule her exercise at the start of the week, so that she can aim to achieve a certain number of sessions. Plan to attend to 2×1 hour exercise sessions/week, and go for a family walk every weekend.
Overtime Janet will be able to increase her intensity at the exercise sessions, to ensure she sees improvement in her fitness. Over time she will probably need to include some light exercise on the alternate days, such as 2-3 30 minute walks.
Melinda gave birth 8 weeks ago, and is extremely keen to be able to fit back into her pre-pregnancy jeans! Prior to her pregnancy she used to train most days, enjoying a combination of running, swimming, netball and the occasional yoga class. Since giving birth, Melinda has been enjoying walking for 20-30minutes, 4 days a week.
Recommendation: Given that Melinda has very recently given birth, it is very important to take things slowly!! This said, she can still enjoy regular exercise – as long as she feels up to it. We would recommend continuing with her regular walks and starting 1-2 sessions of ‘safe’ post natal exercise (such as Shape Up Mums, swimming or Pilates). We would highly recommend that Melinda do her pelvic floor exercises 2-3 times/day, to ensure that her pelvic floor recovers from giving birth. Over the following 2 months we would encourage Melinda to work with her Shape Up Mums personal trainer to improve her core and pelvic floor strength to a point that she can then commence some controlled walk/runs (under the guidance/support of her PT), helping her safely return back to running in a timely manner.
Sally Muir – Personal Trainer