I was encouraged to write this post by some fellow mom friends. It was a coincidence because I planned on writing about how I got back into shape after having twins. Only type A people will understand the immense satisfaction I feel by accomplishing two things at the same time.
These days I’m a bit of an exercise butterfly. I enjoy all forms of movement, especially Orangetheory, running, yoga, strength training, and HIIT (high intensity interval training). I appreciate each one for different reasons. They provide their own list of benefits for me, both physically and mentally. I truly just love to MOVE.
Prior to having kids I measured the value of my workouts by duration. Sixty to ninety minutes of running at a steady speed on the treadmill was a typical workout for me. I didn’t think something counted as exercise unless it involved running (or some other high intensity cardio). After the girls were born I needed to rethink my workouts. I wanted to lose the weight I gained during pregnancy, but I also wanted to get stronger than I was before kids. Given my limited schedule, my workouts needed to be short and manageable.
Interval training – particularly HIIT – was extremely effective in getting the results I was after. I could commit to the quick workouts (20 minutes was doable) and enjoyed the combination of strength movements and cardio. Even though I was exhausted as a new mom (and recovering from my c-section), I could still push myself into doing something on most days. When I had more time and energy, I started to add in workout classes. Every person has different capabilities. It took me a long time to recover from my surgery and I really eased into things. You should consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Here are some of the workouts that were effective for me:
- Sprint / bike intervals: Short bursts of running and biking are great for fat loss, in particular belly fat. Intervals can shape and tone your lower legs, increase stamina and improve performance. They also charge up your metabolism! I used to take the girls in our double stroller and run intervals around the neighborhood. It was a great way to ease my way back into running. The added weight of pushing two infants in a heavy stroller was really challenging. Indoor cycling offers a low-impact form of cardio, especially when you add resistance to the bike.
- Rowing: My respect for the rower has grown substantially since beginning Orange Theory. In my opinion, this piece of equipment is highly underestimated. It provides a great cardio and strength workout in one. A lot of people assume it’s only an upper body exercise, but when done properly, the workout is very much a lower body movement.
- HIIT: Once I felt physically ready to do more intense activity, I started to incorporate high intensity intervals. I was able to get a solid and challenging workout in half the time. I felt better, stronger and I loved the burst of energy and endorphins it gave me after. Plus, there are many workouts you can do that don’t require any equipment at all. I spent many days jumping around while the girls watched wide-eyed from their bouncers. Um, mom’s crazy!
- Strength training: I didn’t always like lifting. In fact, I kind of hated it. I didn’t see the point of going to gym and not doing cardio. I muscled through it because I knew it was good for me, but I wasn’t invested in it. My attitude changed completely about five years ago once I started to understand the importance of training (sure, marrying a personal trainer may have had something to do with it!). Moreover, I could see the changes it was making for me. Once the girls were born, I knew that lifting would be key not only to lose body fat, but to gain strength back.
Interval training is a very effective way to lose body fat and increase strength. By performing intense intervals your body will continue to burn calories 2-4 hours after your workout has ended. Plus, when you gain muscle you begin to burn more calories (even at rest) due to the increase in your metabolism.
What are your favorite forms of exercise? Do you have any interval workouts to share?