Jillian Michaels’ 12-Week Post Pregnancy Fitness Plan

In her book, Yeah Baby! Jillian Michaels offers a gentle post pregnancy fitness plan that helps new mothers navigate when and how to re-introduce fitness into their lives postpartum. In this video, Jillian shares her 12-week plan to bounce back after baby. She recommends starting with a light walking regimen, and increasing the length and intensity of your walks over the course of several weeks. After that, she recommends introducing moderate cardio and gentle strength training a few times a week. Of course, everyone’s different, so it’s best to consult your doctor before beginning any new fitness plan. Watch the video for a week-by-week plan to regaining strength and mobility after giving birth.

Be safe! Get doctor approval before you begin.

Don’t have time to watch? Read the full transcript:

Hi, I’m Jillian Michaels. Post pregnancy isn’t the time for a kick-ass workout, so give yourself time to heal. Then, with your doctor’s approval, follow this 12-week regimen. You’ll be back in shape in no time.

  • Week 1: No exercise – even avoid stairs
  • Week 2: Walk 10 min/day
  • Week 3: Walk 15 min/day
  • Week 4: Walk 20 min/day
  • Weeks 5 & 6: Walk 30 min/day
  • Weeks 7 – 12:
    • Moderate cardio 2x/week, like 30-40 min. of incline walking, biking, or swimming
  • Gentle strength training 3x/week, like Pilates class or DVD, Level 1 yoga flow class or postpartum yoga DVD, or Barre class for post baby

Fit after baby: what you need to know about postpartum exercise

The first months of motherhood are a blur—between sleep deprivation, feedings, diaper changes and the never-ending piles of laundry, learning the ropes of your new life can be overwhelming to say the least. However, even with all of the new responsibilities, many moms are eager to get active in order to regain their strength and fit into their pre-baby jeans. And those aren’t the only benefits: Regular exercise after giving birth can help moms feel more energized and less stressed, allowing them to better manage the demands of a newborn.

To ensure a safe and effective fitness journey, postpartum women need to take some special precautions. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Take exercise after birth slow

One of the first things active women want to know after they’ve given birth is when they can start working out again. A common guideline is to wait six weeks if you had a vaginal delivery and eight weeks if you had a C-section. However, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, if you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery and were active throughout your pregnancy, you may be able to begin light exercise within a few days of giving birth—as long as you’re not in any pain.

If you did have a C-section or a more complicated birth or recovery, talk to your healthcare provider about when you can safely start a fitness program.

Focus on low impact exercise

Even if you feel ready to exercise a few days or weeks after giving birth, that doesn’t mean you should head back to CrossFit or sign up for six weeks of HIIT. Doing high-intensity workouts before your body is ready can be more harmful than helpful when you’re newly postpartum. Instead, focus on low impact options like walking, stretching, and strength training with resistance bands or light weights.

Strengthen your core and floor

Pregnancy and birth weakens the pelvic floor and core, and women can experience a range of issues associated with these muscles, such as incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. Diastasis recti—the separation of the abdominal muscles—is also extremely common post-pregnancy, and while in most women it heals on its own, in severe cases, you may need physical therapy to help decrease the gap between muscles. Here’s how to check for Diastasis recti.

These factors make strengthening your pelvic floor and core muscles a top priority, but don’t aim to do a record number of crunches each day. In fact, you should avoid core exercises like crunches, sit-ups, push-ups and planks. Try these five alternative core exercises instead. To strengthen your pelvic floor, focus on proper posture and alignment, Kegels, and other pelvic floor exercises.

Pay attention to your body

No matter how simple or complicated your birth experience was, being postpartum means that you need time to recover from an intense and challenging physical, mental and emotional event. You might have been at a high impact cardio class five days a week before baby, but that may not make sense right now.

Pay attention to your body as you try new exercises. Are you uncomfortable? Is recovery difficult? If so, back off on the intensity level, and take another few weeks to recover from childbirth before you ramp up again. If you continue to feel uncomfortable, contact your doctor and consider working with a physical therapist.

Try these mom-approved fitness options

You’ve been given the all-clear from your healthcare provider, you’ve spent time strengthening your core and floor, and you’re ready to take your workout to the next level. Here are a few mom-approved fitness choices:

  1. Barre classes: Fitness franchises like Pure Barre and the Daily Method combine Pilates, ballet, and yoga-inspired moves and provide a low-impact, toning workout that can be modified for new moms.
  2. Stroller fitness: Want to get fit and make friends? Fit4Mom Stroller Strides classes let you bring your baby and provide a social setting where you can get to know other moms. The class includes cardio and strength training, with intensity-level options appropriate for those who are returning to fitness or looking for a challenge.
  3. Gentle yoga: Not all yoga is postnatal appropriate, but typically gentle varieties, such as yin yoga and restorative yoga are good new mom options.
  4. Water aerobics: Water aerobics and aqua walking are low-impact fitness options that can help you build cardiovascular endurance and strength without putting unnecessary stress on your joints—perfect for postnatal exercise.

Whatever type of activity you decide to do, look for instructors who are certified, knowledgeable and experienced. Speak to the instructor before class and ask for adjustments to the workout based on your postpartum needs. Most importantly, listen to your body—allow yourself to slow down, opt for modifications as needed and take extra time to recover.

Like having a personal trainer in your home, the Aaptiv fitness app helps mamas stay fit through pregnancy and beyond.

Let’s face it: Getting fit after a baby is no easy task. I’m five months postpartum now, and between sleepless nights and having a tiny human who depends on me every second of the day, it isn’t always possible to make it to the gym.

Luckily, working out at home is a great option — especially with the guidance of the Aaptiv fitness app.

Fourth-Trimester Fitness

Aaptiv is a fitness-audio app that allows athletes to stream music and workouts coached by knowledgeable trainers. It encompasses 12 categories, with activities including everything from boxing to yoga. Subscribers pay a monthly fee and get unlimited access.

For this test, I focused on the newly released Fourth Trimester fitness program, as well as Stroller fitness and some Yoga.

We’re all familiar with the first, second, and third trimesters of pregnancy. But you may not have heard of the fourth trimester. This is the period lasting for three months after the baby arrives. It’s a time marked by sleepless nights, baby snuggles, taking time to heal, and did I mention sleepless nights?

And part of this recovery is adjusting to the physical changes of being postpartum and starting an exercise routine. This is where Aaptiv comes into the picture.

It’s worth noting that postnatal fitness varies widely from woman to woman. How quickly you’ll want to jump back into an exercise routine really depends on the individual’s pre-baby fitness level and the intensity of labor itself.

I know women who have logged miles the day after the baby was born. Others took it easy for several weeks. There’s no right or wrong. Consult your midwife or doctor and listen to what your body needs.

Audio Fitness: Pros & Cons

Aaptiv is an audio-only app. I found there are definitely pros and cons to this. On the plus side, it’s less distracting than needing to look at a screen while working out. Relying just on the audio cues allowed me to focus fully on the exercise.

But there were times when I didn’t fully understand what my “coach” was instructing me to do. I had to pause and rewind a bit in order to make sure I was completing the moves properly.

I also felt that some instructions relied on the user already having a solid fitness background. When being told to get on “all fours and into a cat-cow position,” I did this easily. After all, that’s a mainstay of the yoga classes I’ve been taking for years. But I can imagine it confusing users who aren’t already familiar with the fitness jargon.

For the most part, though, the instructions are impressively clear, and the instructor’s voice is peppy enough to get you excited without being over the top.

Best of all, the music is great. Aaptiv has clearly invested in the rights to use mainstream music, and it shows. I found myself bobbing my head to the familiar tunes while lunging down the street.

And you can even choose your workouts based on the tunes. Love ’90s hip hop? There’s a workout for that. Can’t get enough classic rock? Well, get ready to sweat.

The app is intuitive to use and keeps track of your completed workouts. And you have the option to organize workouts into the “To-do” category and download for use even without Wi-Fi.

Aaptiv: What You Get

For $99, app members get annual unlimited access to 2,500 streaming workouts. Aaptiv adds over 40 “classes” each week, and there are price breaks for businesses and students. There’s also a free seven-day trial.

This is a great option if you’re looking to start the new year off right or squeeze in a workout in between diaper changes.

Ready for adventures with baby? Maybe it’s time to plan a camping trip.

FitMama 5 minute workouts

FitMama – 5 Minute Fitness Workouts Just for Mothers
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Lose weight and get your body back after pregnancy with our 5 and 10 minute quick, easy & safe fat-busting home workouts – no equipment needed!
★ Safe & effective post-pregnancy workouts for home or on-the-move
★ 5 or 10 minute Superset exercises to burn fat fast and lose baby weight
★ Select your time, body area, pace and let FitMama track your fitness progress for you
FitMama’s fat-burning exercises can help you target and tackle your problem body areas if you’ve just had a baby and don’t know how to lose postnatal baby weight, or to simply shape up at home if you are a busy mum with little time to exercise.
Our 5 and 10 minute exercises are based on ‘Supersets’ – two exercises done back-to-back to lose weight faster, with no equipment required! They’re super quick to see results fast – ideal as part of your postnatal weight loss regime, diet or plan.
Finding your feet after pregnancy can be hard, especially if you are unhappy with weight gain after childbirth, so FitMama will be with you every step of the way, tracking your post-pregnancy exercise progress for you!
★ QUICK : Supersets that fit into your busy Mum routine – just 5 or 10 minute post-pregnancy exercises
★ BODY ZONE: Workouts to focus on each body area – Lower, Middle and Upper Body, ideal for the post-partum period and targeting weight loss
★ PACE: Choose your ideal pace to exercise with your preferred workouts – slow, medium or fast, a relief if you’re tender after childbirth or breastfeeding
★ TRACKS: Progress tracker to help your visualise and track your success, by week and month and you can share your exercise achievements on social media like Facebook.
★ EXPERT: Fitness workouts adapted by fitness experts for post-pregnancy body problems – helping to tighten muscles, tone your body and shape up your baby belly, waist line, arms, butt, thighs, legs, hips and sore back, neck and shoulders
★ EVERYDAY: No special equipment needed – just everyday items, easy workouts to fit in before the school run, in between work & home life routine, when playing with baby or children or even whilst watching TV!
★ GUIDES: Beautifully designed step-by-step Visual and Audio instructions & prompts for every exercise, to make sure you’re doing each movement correctly. Includes a ‘Right and Wrong Way to Exercise’ section to avoid common exercise mistakes especially useful for postpartum stage after having a baby.
BENEFITS OF FitMama with In-App purchase version
★ Enjoy ALL expertly designed post-pregnancy exercises including regular & seasonal content updates and extras!
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★ All functions – pick your exercise time, body zone, pace and GO!
★ Small-size app using less memory on your device
★ The fastest updates the day a new exercise is published!
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The last important differentiating factor to my program is that I am a real mom, always interested in making the program better, the app better and adding things that will help. I am consistently asking for suggestions to help you get to your goals. I recently asked the private Facebook group for suggestions, which lead to the creation of the Jump Start 5-day portion, which will take you through baby steps to slowly start. So far, that has been the hardest part for most mamas, just starting.

Depending on what you are looking for in a postpartum workout app, I know these apps will help you.

I found that having an app to access makes working out so simple. I also don’t dread working out nearly as much with Aaptiv because I don’t have to think up a workout, read a program or watch a video. I just listen and go!

These are the only two postpartum workout apps you need to achieve your goals and get your body back after baby. These provide the best resources right on your phone, for much cheaper than many of the programs, gyms and personal trainers out there! I did my research, and many of the programs for postpartum mamas are far more expensive, and they don’t even offer apps with them. These postpartum workout apps will be a wonderful investment for your health and strength after baby!

Kayla Itsines Shares What Inspired Her to Launch a Post-Pregnancy Workout Program

Kayla Itsines

Early this morning, Kayla Itsines launched a new workout program on the SWEAT app called “Post Pregnancy”.

This exciting new venture has been a long time coming for the Bikini Body Guides (BBG) creator, who spoke with Shape exclusively about why she decided to launch the program now, seven months after giving birth to her first child, daughter Arna.

“I’ve trained a lot of women postpartum, but I felt that in order to be authentic and honest, I had to go through pregnancy and the aftermath myself to provide the right information and insight to other moms who are beginning again,” says Itsines. (Related: Kayla Itsines Shares Her Go-to Pregnancy-Safe Workout)

Image zoom Kayla Itsines

The 12-week program, backed by a panel of obstetricians and exercise physiologists, is inspired by Itsines’ own experience with pregnancy and motherhood, the trainer shares. “Having a C-section for me was hard,” she says—and she’s not alone. Pregnancy is hard on your body—period—but undergoing a C-section can be an especially intense experience. It requires cutting or moving the fascia and separating your abdominal muscles in order to get to the uterus (and ultimately the baby), Emily Prouse, M.D., of Metropolitan OBGYN, previously told us. When you injure these muscles, it decreases not only their strength but also their range of motion, explained Dr. Prouse. (Related: 7 Moms Share What It’s Really Like to Have a C-Section)

Needless to say, once Itsines was cleared to work out post-C section, she says it felt like starting from square one.

Itsines’ doctor gave her the green light to go back to the gym around 6-7 weeks postpartum (though the timing can be different for every woman). She says she remembers going in with what she thought were reasonable expectations. “I thought at the very least I’d do a brisk walk and a few bodyweight exercises for about 30 minutes,” she explains.

But things didn’t quite go as planned. “I vividly remember starting the treadmill and putting it to the pace of a fast walk,” Itsines shares. “I realized very quickly that it was too much.”

Itsines says she remembers slowing down to about 2 miles per hour and continuing her cardio from there. “My goal at that point was to just put one foot in front of the other,” she admits.

That first day, Itsines stopped and called it quits after about 13 minutes of walking, she recalls. It was then she says she knew she had a long journey ahead. (Related: Kayla Itsines Shared Her First Postpartum Recovery Photo with a Powerful Message)

“I remember going back home and having a small cry,” she explains. “I’d seen myself as a personal trainer and an athlete for 10 years, and now, simply putting one foot in front of the other on a treadmill was hard.”

Image zoom Kayla Itsines

Itsines then began working closely with her physical therapists and health-care professionals to create an exercise program that worked best for her postpartum. “I had to learn how to modify exercises to suit my body,” she explains. “I couldn’t do anything like sit-ups or anything ab-related. It was all about building foundational and functional strength.” (Related: 9 Things You Should Know About Postpartum Exercise and Probably Don’t)

Itsines says her postpartum journey helped her realized that new moms everywhere could benefit from a workout program that not only helps them return to light activity and regain their strength, but that also accounts for the changes their bodies have endured as a result of pregnancy. “‘Post-Pregnancy’ is very specific to the postpartum mom who needs to rebuild good posture, core stability, and strengthen parts of the body that might have been weakened by pregnancy,” explains the trainer.

Her new program offers two main workouts (one that targets the lower body and core, and another that targets the upper body and core), which gradually become more challenging over the course of the 12-week program. Unlike other BBG workouts (which are usually high-intensity and last 28 minutes each), these exercises aren’t timed, and overall, they’re much less intense, says Itsines. “Most of the workouts are built to last 15-25 minutes so that you can go at your own pace,” she adds.

You can also choose from three optional workouts designed specifically to build strength on a granular level, whether that’s improving upper-body posture, hip strength, or even providing lower-back relief—all of which Itsines struggled with during her own postpartum journey. These short circuits will take between 5-8 minutes each to complete, says Itsines. (Related: How Soon Can You Start Exercising After Giving Birth?)

Image zoom Kayla Itsines

Rest assured, Itsines created and tried every single workout from the program to ensure they’re safe and effective for new moms. “The goal of this program is to be able to gain your strength in the comfort of your home,” she says. “I don’t feel like a lot of women, especially me, want to venture out into a gym when you have a new baby. So being able to do these exercises wherever you’re comfortable is super helpful.”

Above all, Itsines says her hope is that the workout program will help new moms build confidence. “Based on my own journey, after you’ve had a baby, you’ve got a lot going on and are constantly worried,” she explains. “Being able to do something to take care of yourself is important.” (Did you know that science says having a baby can tank your self-esteem for three years?)

And for any new moms who are still struggling to find their postpartum fitness groove, Itsines says, “just start. You feel better for it. Seeing yourself grow week by week gives you so much confidence—at least, that’s what happened for me.”

Of course, everyone’s postpartum journey is different, Itsines points out. Regardless of what that journey might look like, though, what’s most important is being gentle with yourself and listening to your body, says the trainer.

“For me, it’s been a very gradual journey, and it’s taken time to build up my strength and self-esteem,” she shares. “It’s been a tough road getting back to where I am but at the end of the day, I just really want to help women and I hope this program allows me to do that even more.”

12 week

✓ Heal Diastasis Recti (DR). You will close your ab gap over the couse of 3 Phases so that we can effectively flatten your lower stomach and cinch the waist.

✓ You will need dumbbells, a stability ball (big blow up type), and stroller/carrier for walking your baby when you don’t have assistance at home. That’s it!

✓ Safe for vaginal and cesarean delveries.

✓ Guidance begins as soon as your baby arrives so you can get reconnecting with your innermost abdominal muscles, strengthening the pelvic floor and progressive walking to facilitate recovery while keeping your metabolism up.

✓ The first of 4 x cumulative nutrition goals also begins as soon as your little one is born. 100% breastfeeding supportive.

✓ If your baby isn’t a baby anymore –but you never took the time to lose all of your baby weight and properly strengthen your core postpartum to flatten your abs and create a smaller waist– this plan is for you, too!

✓ Ideally you’ll begin Day 1: “Coffee With Your Core + Stroller Walk,” as soon as you are cleared by your doctor to resume exercise at your 4-9 week postpartum check up.

We all get hit with setbacks in terms of fitness – injury, illness, pregnancy, and even an extended hiatus in our workout programs can make for a huge setback in terms of our strength and endurance. When that happens, it’s important to talk with your doctor to find out exactly what kind of physical activity you can manage, and to start gradually working your way back to your strong, healthy body.
This beginner Pilates workout video is meant to help keep the body toned, flexible, and stress free while it is healing – whether it be from a brutal workout the day before, or from an injury or illness.
If you are brand new to exercise, this Pilates for beginners video is a great place to start; the exercises are slow moving so that you have the time to figure out exactly how to execute each move, and none are overly stressful on the body. It is low impact, and the movements are easy enough that you will have a chance to really focus on your breathing, making it beneficial in terms of mind – body exercise as well. If you want to delve into Pilates training but aren’t yet familiar with the basics, this is a good place to start before you move onto our more advanced Pilates workouts. Because the routine is slow moving, light, and relaxing, it would also make a great video to do just before you get ready to go to bed.
Workout Structure
14 Exercises and Stretches
12 Reps of each Exercise
17 Minutes Total
Printable Routine
Pelvic Clock (alternate which direction you are moving, with each circle counting as a rep)
Bridge (both feet on ground – full range of motion option shown, starting at rep 7)
Shoulder Slaps
Leg Slides (alternating; 6 on each leg)
Toe Taps (level one, with both feet on floor in order to minimize strain on abs)
Inside Thigh Raise – Left
Outside Thigh Raise – Left
Inside Thigh Raise – R
Outside Thigh Raise – R
Supine Torso Rotation (be careful of excess rotation depending on your health situation and possible contraindications)
Neck Stretch
Knee Hug
Deep Glute Stretch
Cat – Camel
Child’s Pose
How many calories does this Fitness Blender Pilates routine burn?
We estimate that this Pilates workout burns anywhere from 3-4 calories per minute, or 51 – 68 calories total. Not a huge hitter in terms of calorie burn, but calories burned is definitely not the only thing to consider when it comes to the benefits of a routine like this one.

These could possibly also be appropriate c section exercises, or exercises after an abdominal surgery – it will not work for everyone and you should always, always talk to your doctor before you start up any kind of workout program, especially after any kind of surgery, illness, injury or pregnancy. The general recommendation for both abdominal surgery workouts and after pregnancy workouts is that you wait 6-8 weeks before you start exercising again (especially with high impact routines).

Remember, talk to your doctor before you start this or any workout program. None of this information is to be taken as medical or other health advice pertaining to any individual specific health or medical condition. You agree that use of this information is at your own risk.

Post pregnancy workout plans

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