The Ultimate Functional Fitness Routine for Moms

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fitness-routine-image-design-1-1Mothers can have fit bodies, too!

Being a mom is a full-time job. You have little bundles of joy running around the house, meaning you’ve got to worry about school lunches, play dates, drawings on the wall, sticky fingers, endless mountains of laundry, and a thousand other tasks that never seem to get done every day. Add to that your workload as a professional, and you’ve got a lot on your plate.

It may seem like you don’t have time for exercise. The idea of spending an hour at the gym blissfully cycling, jogging, or on the elliptical is a fond memory of a pre-children past. Now, the best you can do is fit in a workout at some point in your busy day.

Well, why not make the most of your workout? You don’t need hours at the gym to get fit. In fact, with the Ultimate Functional Fitness Routine listed below, you’ll have everything you need to get in amazing shape.

The Ultimate Functional Fitness Routine

You may not be the kind of person who enjoys bench pressing or deadlifting hundreds of pounds, but that’s not what functional fitness is about. When it comes down to it, functional fitness—true fitness—is about being able to get through your activities of daily life. That means you need the strength to lift/carry things, the endurance to move around without getting tired, and the mobility to do so without injury. The best routines involve all three elements!

This routine is designed to be ENTIRELY done at home. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have weights: all of the exercises included here can be done with only your body weight. In fact, the best functional fitness exercises are done with just your bodyweight—you simply change up the angle or difficulty of the movement according to your fitness.

Before we get into the routine, we need to take a look at the exercises you will be doing:

Resistance Exercises

mother and baby gymnastics yoga
These exercises focus not just on muscular strength, but also endurance. They’ll help you to carry your kids, lift the buckets of laundry, move furniture, and do all those other mom-duties with ease.

Push-Ups. This is the ultimate “pushing” exercise, one that works your chest, shoulders, arms, and core. Yes, it’s not the easiest movement to do, but don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do a regular push-up! It takes time and effort, that’s all.

If you have to start by doing Push-ups on your knees, so be it. What matters is that you get that pushing motion as you lower your body to the floor and push back up.

Here’s how it’s done:

Pull-Ups. Pull-ups are another exercise you may not be able to do right off the bat but don’t sweat it! Put a chair beneath the pull-up bar, stand on it, and let your legs carry just enough weight for you to do a full pull-up. Assisted pull-ups are how EVERYONE gets started!

This is the ultimate “pulling” exercise, one that will work your forearms, biceps, shoulders, and upper back. Pull-ups focus more on the shoulders and back, while chin-ups (palms facing you instead of outward) add extra attention to your biceps. It’s an amazing movement that will help you develop serious upper body “pulling” strength.

Here’s how it’s done:

Chair Dips. Chair dips focus on your triceps, the “trouble zone” where most women tend to accumulate additional fat. (It’s not your fault—your body is designed to store more fat on the back of your arms.) They’re an excellent isolation exercise that places all the weight squarely on your triceps. Excellent for tightening up those arms!

Here’s how it’s done:

Squats. This is one of the best lower body exercises! Not only does it work your quadriceps (the big muscles on the front of your thighs), but it also hits your hamstrings (muscles on the backs of your legs) and gluteus maximums (butt). Done right, they can even strengthen your lower back and core.

Bodyweight squats will be hard at first, but your body will grow accustomed to the weight quickly. If you want to increase the intensity without adding weight, try one of the many squat variations (Squat Jumps, Split Squats, Pistol Squats, etc.).

Here’s how it’s done:

Lunges. Lunges tie with Squats as the “best leg exercise.” They focus more on your glutes and hamstrings than squats do, but you can’t Lunge as much weight as you can Squat. If you’ve got weak knees, they can be a bit painful. Thankfully, your leg muscles will quickly grow to handle your bodyweight.

This is the kind of exercise that tightens and lifts your buns. Do A LOT of squats and lunges to see results!

Here’s how it’s done:

Wood Choppers. This is an awesome exercise that hits both your mobility and core strength. Done in a half-Lunge position, it also works your legs.

The twisting motion of the Wood Choppers places a lot of emphasis on your obliques (side muscles), a muscle that doesn’t see a lot of use in other movements. The obliques play a vital role in the protection of your spine, so it’s important that you work them out to reduce the risk of back injuries.

Here’s how it’s done:

Plank. For the ultimate abs workout, it doesn’t get any better than the Plank. It’s a simple exercise, one that involves ZERO movement. You simply get in Plank position and hold it for 30-60 seconds. There’s no movement, so no risk of injuries (back, hips, knees, etc.)

I said simple, not EASY! Your core will be on fire before you hit the 30-second mark, and it takes a truly fit person to reach 60 seconds. That’s your ultimate goal, and it’s one you should strive for every day.

Here’s how it’s done:

Superman. Superman is another awesome core exercise, but this one focuses on your lower back more than your abs. It’s fairly simple (see the video below), and involves nothing more than a Yoga mat or towel. But despite its simple nature, it will have your muscles burning in no time. You’ll feel the tension in your lower back and know it’s working beautifully.

Here’s how it’s done:

Now you have the exercises you’ll be doing, so it’s time to move on to the workout itself…

Always start with the resistance training portion of the workout first. This way, you hit your muscles while they’re fresh and burn through your glucose (blood sugar) quickly. When you reach the middle or later portions of the resistance training and move on to cardio, you’ll end up burning a lot more fat.

The workout is fairly simple: perform each circuit without stopping, rest for 90-120 seconds, then move on to the next circuit. You’ll complete the workout in 20-30 minutes, hit every muscle in your body, and see serious improvements in strength over the course of a few weeks/months.

Circuit #1: 12 Push-Ups, 12 Squats, 30 Seconds of Plank
Circuit #2: 12 Pull-Ups, 12 Lunges, 12 Supermans
Circuit #3: 12 Push-Ups, 12 Squats, 12 Woodchoppers (per side)
Circuit #4: 12 Pull-Ups, 12 Lunges, 30 Seconds of Plank
Circuit #5: 12 Chair Dips, 12 Woodchoppers, 12 Supermans

Guaranteed to get results!

Cardio Exercises

Mother and baby doing yoga
Cardio is an important part of any training program, but if you’ve done your resistance training right, you won’t need much of a cardio workout. After all, you’ll be moving from one exercise to the next without pause. Your heart and lungs will work faster to keep up with the energy demands of the resistance training.

That being said, it’s ALWAYS good to mix in a bit of cardio after any resistance training. The resistance training will activate stored fat, and cardiovascular exercise burns fat more effectively. By doing a short cardio workout after your regular workout, you can increase not just the calorie burn, but fat-burning specifically.

But who has time for a resistance training workout AND 30-40 minutes of jogging or cycling? Instead, you need to up the intensity of your cardio workout so you can fit it all in in just 10-15 minutes.

Here are the exercises you want to do:

Squat Jumps. Squat jumps are a BRUTAL lower body exercise that pushes your cardiovascular system to its limits. It’s a squat with a jump, and the combination of the two movement hits your body amazingly well!

Here’s how it’s done:

Stair Climbing. Stair climbing also combines lower body training with cardio workouts. It’s a great way to lift your butt (naturally, of course!) because you have to step up. If you’ve got a staircase in your house, you can make it work.

Sprints. You don’t need a race track to sprint. You can even sprint in your neighborhood or backyard. Your goal is to sprint for 30 seconds, then jog or walk for 60-90 seconds. Do this for 10 minutes, and you’ll feel the burn!

HIIT Cycling. Instead of spending 30 minutes cycling at a slow speed, try cranking up the intensity/incline, cycling standing up, or pedaling as fast as you can. You won’t be able to do a full 10 minutes at top intensity, so mix intervals of 30 seconds high intensity with 60-90 seconds of low intensity cycling.

HIIT Elliptical Training. Want a great way to kick your elliptical workout up a notch? Walk at a steady (slightly fast) pace for 90 seconds, then walk in a squat (supporting your weight on the handles) for 30 seconds. Within 10 to 15 minutes of this, you’ll be ready for the end of the world!

Your goal is NOT to spend a lot of time on your cardio workout. You should strive to perform the exercises above for no more than 10 or 15 minutes. That’s enough time for you to push yourself to the limit without injury or pushing too far.

Mobility Exercises

Young mother and daughter doing yoga exercise
Flexibility and mobility are just as important as strength and endurance. If your body isn’t limber and mobile, your risk of injuries increases.

ALWAYS spend the first 5 minutes of your workout warming up. Perform dynamic stretches that get your blood flowing as you loosen your muscles. This will help to reduce injury and will increase muscular growth significantly.

Once you’re done with the workout, spend another 10 minutes on your flexibility. Try a few of your favorite Yoga poses:
• Pigeon Pose
• Warrior Pose
• Triangle Pose
• Royal Dancer
• Standing Leg Extension
• Upward Dog
• Downward Dog
• Wide Leg Forward Bend
• Shoelace
• Reclined Spinal Twist

These poses will help to loosen up your tight muscles, increase the mobility of your joints (shoulders, hips, spine, and knees), and make you a more flexible person. Trust me, mobility training will go A LONG WAY towards reducing your risk of injuries.

More Ways to Kick Your Fitness Up a Notch

The fact that you have children means you have bonus opportunities to exercise! You can chase your kids at the park, carry them around the yard, or go on long walks/hikes with them. They will love the time spent with you, and you’ll have a chance to get in a bit of extra exercise.

Of course, your time with your kids should be bonus exercise, and you should still try to fit in the workout listed above. Do that, and you’ll see serious improvements in your physique in no time.

Functional fitness isn’t about spending hours every week at the gym: it’s about doing what’s best for your body!

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