One thing I have noticed after the birth of my fourth child, is that there were some very significant changes to my body, none of which were particularly glamorous. My breasts became horribly misshapen and empty (the term “flapping in the breeze” comes to mind), I had what is lovingly referred to as “saddle bags”, my stomach had more skin than it needed and I had developed an incredible case of “mum bum”. Mum bum is where your butt is so flat and so low there is a chance it might actually drag behind you. I’m not sure if other mums have experienced this but let me tell you, it’s not something you would describe as a “feature”.
Since the birth of Felix 4 years ago, I have been focused on getting as fit and strong as possible and to see how I can change the shape of my body. In my first 12 months postpartum, I was very kind to myself. I resisted the urge to start smashing out crazy workouts and accepted that 3 births in 18 months meant there was some healing that needed to take place. 12 months of conservative exercise seemed like a reasonable starting place and since then, I have progressively started increasing the intensity and volume of my workouts. I am also continually challenging myself with what I think is possible. I watch videos that inspire and motivate me and remind me that the human body is awesome and capable of so much more than I think!!
So right now, my focus is on climbing ropes, muscle ups, rings and dragging along as many of my group training crew, to as many obstacle challenges as possible. I want to see men and women empowered by showing them they can be strong and they can achieve whatever they set their minds to.
I often get asked about what I do for training, so to give you an idea, this is what I’m currently doing:
NOTE: I built up to this level of training over 12 months and my recovery is faster than an untrained person. This is not a beginner program and I would encourage anyone wanting to undertake HIIT and heavy resistance training to do it supervised initially.
To improve my cardiorespiratory fitness, I try to do a mix of sessions.
Each week I do:
1-3 x 30-45 minute HIIT sessions
1-3 x 3-5 km runs (with some hill sprints at the end for added fun 😉 )
I tend to keep my workouts as short as possible, as I have the attention span of a gold fish. I like to keep my heart rate up around 85-100% of my heart rate reserve but my sessions are short and I don’t do high intensity training every day.
I have recently added in strength training sessions in the gym. My program is short and sweet. I do squats, lunges, deadlifts, leg press, nordic hamstring curls to work on leg strength and fix this mum bum sitch. I also do chin ups (unassisted and band assisted), bench press, DB bench press, push ups and seated row. I do lower body on Thursday and upper body on Friday (these are the days I have access to the gym). I don’t have a preference for split over full body programs but my gym days happen to fall on a Thursday and Friday so a split program it is. When I do weight training, I like to train heavy with lower reps. There is much debate over lighter weights and higher reps vs. higher weight and lower reps but I have found that if you’re serious about increasing strength and muscle size/shape then the heavier weights are best. This means I’m training at about > 85% of my 1 repetition maximum. I do roughly 3-8 reps (depending on the exercise) and I do 1-3 sets depending on how much time I have, how I’m feeling and what I’m testing on myself.
EDIT: I have added in some glute activation training exercises as I have a serious case of “flat bum” or “lazy glutes”. These include band adduction/abduction, double band hip extension, single leg dealifts and frog pumps. See my Facebook page for exercise demos.
If you’re serious about preventing injuries and getting the most out of your sessions, then a regular stretching routine is a must. I have an alert on my phone that reminds me to stretch at 8pm every night. I have had the alert for months now and am yet to stretch but the intention is there at least 😉
So what does a typical week then look like?
Tuesday: Run and HIIT
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: Lower body weights
Friday: Easy run and upper body weights
Sunday: Rest or Run
Of course it’s all well and good to give you this this program, but if you’re eating crap all the time then you’re kidding yourself about what you’re going to achieve. However, I have found that when I train and when I train hard, I am more likely to eat well. Whether that’s a physiological or psychological adaptation I’m not entirely sure but it’s likely to be partly column A and partly column B.
I also want to point out that I fast most days of the week and have adopted a low carb, healthy fat diet and I think the the combination of the three are a knock-out powerhouse! These three strategies have completely changed my body, given me back my abs (I thought they were lost forever) and got me into the best shape of my life!
So if you’re thinking of starting an exercise program (and I think you should), I would strongly urge you to invest in getting a professional to write one for you. There are loads of wonderful personal trainers and exercise physiologists who can help you put together a tailored exercise plan to help you achieve your goals, whether they are getting fit for your family or smashing out the next Spartan challenge.
However, all I can say is, dream big! Your body is capable of so much more than you really know!