You’re sick of the low impact, low intensity, low fun stuff.
You just want to sweat a little (or a lot) and get that cardio exercise high that says, “Yes! I just had a great workout!”
But the problem is you’re still pretty early postpartum and you may even be dealing with things like diastasis, prolapse, or leaking and you don’t want to run, jump or push your way into more issues, pain, or setbacks.
So what’s a mom to do?
You want to get that heart pumping cardio goodness.
But you don’t want to risk shattering your still healing core and pelvic floor.
The good news is that I have a solution that’s low impact, still gets your heart rate up, and can actually help with your core and pelvic floor healing process.
All you need is a hill (or a treadmill).
That’s right, we’re gonna walk up some hills, my friend.
Hill walking is one of the most underrated cardio options in general, but especially for new moms.
It’s so awesome because:
1. It’s low impact so it’s friendly on your core and pelvic floor that’s still working on recovering from pregnancy and birth.
2. You still get that heart pumping, “feel the burn” cardio goodness without having to push yourself to the point of potential pain or injury.
3. It’s so fantastic to help you stay in great alignment with your ribs stacked over top of your pelvis and butt untucked – you’re just naturally compelled to go for this alignment.
4. It’s a glute burner and your glutes and pelvic floor are practically wearing best friends forever necklaces they’re so into each other so the stronger and more awesome your glutes are, the stronger and more awesome your pelvic floor has the potential to be.
Sounds like a bunch of wins to me!
Oh and one last thing – you can make it your own which means that practically anyone can do it safely.
I’ll share two programs you can try in a minute here but first let’s chat about the basics.
First things first, alignment and breath. Focus on keeping those ribs stacked over top of your pelvis as you breathe normally.
No need for special breathing or anything, just get that oxygen in there and try not to push yourself so much that you start collapsing over into a hunchback position.
As you go up the hill focus on pushing through your heels to propel yourself forward so your glutes get fired up (you want to feel this more in your glutes than your quads).
In terms of how fast, how much of an incline, how long… these questions are all up to you (and may change from day to day).
How do you feel?
How much energy do you have?
How much time do you have?
How does it feel in your body – especially on your pelvic floor?
Challenge yourself without punishing your body.
And remember that you can always adjust as you go. Don’t feel married to the plan.
If symptoms pop up, you’re feeling exhausted, you’re getting pressure or pain anywhere, don’t ignore that.
The truth is there’s no such thing as “diastasis safe” or “prolapse safe” or “anything safe” exercise.
It’s all about the strategies you’re using and what’s best for your body.
So pay attention and only push yourself as far as you are actually feeling comfortable going.
In terms of where you should do this, you can do your hill climbs outside – which is what I prefer because it’s easier to keep a natural gait and you get some sunshine and fresh air. But I get it – you’re a mom – so sometimes the treadmill is the only option, which is just fine.
With that said, let’s dive into the two kinds of hill walking programs you can try.
Interval Hill Walking Program
With intervals we want to give your body lots of chance to rest between work cycles.
Remember you’re still newly postpartum (even if your baby is a few months old) and your body is still working on healing so it’s not the time to push it.
Yes you can work hard, get your breath going, feel the burn, but make sure you’re not feeling any symptoms creep up and you’re able to still breathe and keep that ribs over hips form.
Have patience now and it’ll actually help you recover faster – because you won’t keep re-injuring yourself.
This means that you’re going to rest for 2x as long as you climbed.
So if you worked for 30 seconds, you’ll rest for 60 seconds.
If you worked for 20 seconds, you’ll rest for 40 seconds.
If you worked for 15 seconds, you’ll rest for 30 seconds.
As you get stronger and feel more confident you can start to slowly decrease the amount of rest between cycles as long as no symptoms are creeping up and you’re not gasping for air.
Here’s how it might look if you wanted to do a 10-ish minute interval hill climb:
Steady State Hill Walking Program
With a steady state hill walk it’s exactly as it sounds – steady as she goes.
You’ll just find a nice long hill, or put that treadmill on an incline and start walking.
If you want to adjust the speed or incline as you go, feel free.
There are no set rules here. Play around with it and do what feels good for you.
Here’s how it might look if you wanted to do a 20 minute steady state hill climb:
Remember you aren’t sprinting, running, or pushing through pain to get up that hill.
Set your ego aside and really listen to your body.
Yes you can challenge yourself, but only push it as much as you feel comfortable and confident that things are feeling good.
Take more rest when you need to.
Stop sooner than you had planned.
Take that incline or speed down a notch (or 3).
Set your expectations aside.
Forget about what you could do (especially pre-pregnancy you) and focus instead on what you should do given the recovering state of your body.
You’re not broken. You’re not fragile. You don’t need to be scared to try. We just want you to be cautious and keep checking in with what’s going on all over your body so you know when to adjust, slow down, or stop.
I love hill climbs because they help you get that rush of adrenaline you might be craving while you’re still focused on the more rehab-like exercises during your strength training.
But just because we’re working on healing your body doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself.
If you do it smartly, you’ll only get stronger.
P.S. Have a mom friend who’s dying to “feel the burn”? Send her this post and go find a hill to climb together.