Getting in shape is hard, but getting in shape after giving birth is a lot harder.
You’re sleep-deprived. You’re still reeling from the delivery. You spend all your time staring at your beautiful, miraculous, worth-all-the-pain-and-morning-sickness baby.
But don’t lose hope! Getting back into shape isn’t impossible. Just look at tennis. The WTA tour has some big-name moms – Serena Williams (mom to nearly 2-year-old daughter Olympia), Victoria Azarenka (mom to 2.5-year-old son Leo) and past tennis greats like Kim Clijsters, Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who not only rejoined the tour as mothers but also went on to win grand slam titles. In fact, Clijsters won three of them!
These women are living proof that motherhood and fitness aren’t mutually exclusive. So whether your goal is to get back into pro form or just to fit into your pre-pregnancy tennis whites, here are our top tips to get your tennis groove back after becoming a mom.
1. Manage Your Expectations
Society puts way too much unrealistic pressure on moms to “snap back” into shape immediately after birth. You’ve seen the bikini pics that celebrity moms share. Ignore them and remember it took 9 months to put on all the weight, so it’ll take at least another 9 months to lose it. And if you never quite fit back into your same pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, you can still be extremely proud of your body! You’re basically a superhero and those stretch marks are a badge of courage.
2. Get Your Doctor’s Permission
Whether you gave birth naturally or via c-section, it’s imperative that you get the official OK from your doctor before beginning exercise of any kind. At least 4-6 weeks post-delivery is a good rule of thumb. The last thing you’d want is to sustain an injury that would set your training goals back even further – or worse – prevent you from taking the best care of your baby.
3. Don’t Immediately Diet
Pregnancy depletes the body of a lot of its nutrients, so replenishing them is really important. Follow a healthy, well-rounded diet – you’ll need the energy to recover from the pregnancy, delivery and those first few months with a new baby when you’re sleep-deprived! This is especially important for breastfeeding mothers whose babies rely on them for 100% of their nutritional needs.
4. Prioritize Sleep
That old chestnut of sleeping when the baby does is cliché but true. You’ll need the energy to take care of your baby and focus on getting fitter.
5. Start Slow
Walking is a great first exercise because it’s gentle and your baby can join you in the stroller. Using a fitness tracker will help you keep track of your progress. Try to increase your steps by 10% each week. Gradually build your way up to more intense exercises so your body can get ready.
6. Concentrate on your Core
Abdominal and pelvic floor muscles become weakened during pregnancy and delivery, so rebuild them with core exercises. Start with simple body weight exercises like pelvic tilts, crunches or planks.
7. Strength Train
Again, go easy. Pilates and yoga are awesome, low-impact forms of exercise to increase strength and flexibility. If traditional strength training is more your style, then try to include simple exercises like lunges, squats, push-ups and crunches to get started. They require body weight only so there’s no need to join a gym. That said, if you have a gym membership collecting dust, remember to keep the weights low and aim instead for higher reps to prevent injury. Watch our how-to video on the 5 best body weight exercises for new moms.
8. Increase your Cardio
Once you’ve graduated past walking, slowly increase the intensity of your cardiovascular workouts by introducing jogging, swimming, hiking and biking (providing you’ve completely healed).
9. Enlist a Friend
Goals are easier to reach when you involve a friend. Workouts are way more fun and you’ll less likely come up with lame excuses to skip one since your buddy is holding you accountable.
10. Hit the Court
Finally!! All your hard work has started paying off and you feel ready to hit the court. As wonderful as that is, it’s still really important to take it easy. You won’t be able to immediately play at the same level you could pre-baby, so be patient and have fun! You might want to start by just hitting against the wall before hitting with a partner. Either is OK as long as you start slow and take your time.
Need to update your gear now that your exercise maternity leave is over? We’ve got you covered!
Loose fitting tanks are excellent for your first months back while you’re still carrying extra weight around your midsection. They also won’t get in the way of breastfeeding. On bottom, leggings, compression gear and tennis skorts (which include compression short liners) offer great support. No more jiggling!
Lightweight tennis shoes are the best shoe for all of the exercises listed above, tennis included. Don’t just hit the court in running shoes or cross-trainers because they could easily cause injury rather than prevent it. We’d recommend the Diadora Speed Blushield 3, Diadora Speed Blushield Fly 2, Babolat SFX 3 or Wilson Rush Pro 3.0.
Whether you’re new or returning to the game, upgrading to one of the latest and greatest racquets on the market is a good idea. Innovative technologies help improve the racquets and make them better for your game. The new Head Gravity range and Babolat Pure Strike family have earned some serious buzz in the tennis world.
So that’s it! All you need to get back into tennis shape. Now give that baby a kiss and get going!
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