Postpartum & Beyond: Workout 1: Lower Body & Pelvic Strengthening

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Hi Everyone!

It’s finally here! Day 1 of my Brand New workout challenge! I am 6-weeks postpartum, and finally cleared to workout. My body has changed a lot since giving birth, and I have a lot of work to do to build my strength back up. I have more body fat (especially around my midsection), and less endurance. All of that is going to change over the next 6-weeks!

This challenge is going to include new workouts, which will be appropriate for all levels. Modify as needed, and feel free to adjust the workout days to fit best with your schedule. The best workout routine is one that you will stick to, so figure out what works best with your schedule, and be consistent.

If you are looking to lose weight, my DietBet challenge starts tomorrow: A chance to win money is a great motivator for some people, so check it out and if it will motivate you to hit your goals join in! I am personally participating in the DietBet challenge. I want to lose some fat, and get my body composition closer to what it was pre-pregnancy.

If you suffer from Diastasis Recti (Abdominal Seperation): Check out this article and video: Get Rid of Belly Bulge: Safe Core Exercises for Diastasis Recti. Substitute this core program for any of the core exercises I include in this challenge. If you have questions feel free to post them! I will be doing my best to answer them as we go.

I am combining these workouts with running. You can substitute walking, speed walking, jump rope, or an alternate cardio of choice, or even just increase the number of rounds you do of each exercise video. If you are postpartum and suffer from urinary incontinence/leakage stick to a lower impact cardio option. Allow your pelvic floor time to recover before doing the High Impact options of each exercise.

This is going to be a full body program to improve your overall health and fitness, and these are the actual exercises I will be doing to get myself stronger, healthier, and more fit. I am doing it right with you. I would love to see who is joining me for this challenge so feel free to comment, tag me in your posts, and let me know how it’s going. If you want to share a before and after photo I would love to see it, and share it (only with your permission!)

Here is what you can expect to see/do this week if you are joining me!

Week 1 Schedule:

  1. Lower Body Workout + 30-Minutes of Cardio
    2. Core Workout + Interval Cardio
    3. 30-Minutes Moderate Intensity Cardio
    4. Arms/Upper Body & Interval Cardio
    5. Rest Day or Easy Cardio Day-(Optional: Long Run for Runners)
    6. Full Body Workout + Walk
    7. Rest Day

Have fun with this program!!!! I can’t wait to get in shape with you!

PS You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest & Snapchat: @BenderFitness and on Facebook: @MelissaBenderFitness
You can find Jesse on Instagram: @BenderCrosby1

Click the link to get your own Gymboss Interval Timer!

Set your Interval Timer for 15 rounds of 30/50 seconds. 

Equipment: Interval Timer, Chair or Bench, Dumbbell (optional)

*30 Seconds of Cardio of Choice before Each Exercise*

  1. Squat
  2. Warrior Deadlift-Right
  3. Warrior Deadlift-Left
  4. Leg Series-Right
  5. Leg Series-Left
  6. Plie Squat (2nd position)
  7. Bulgarian Split Squat-Right
  8. Bulgarian Split Squat-Left
  9. Hip Thrust-Right
  10. Hip Thrust-Left
  11. Grande Plie (1st position)
  12. Sit to Stand-Right
  13. Sit to Stand-Left
  14. Side Step Up-Right
  15. Side Step Up-Left

Repeat 1-3X
Pair with 30-Minutes of Easy Paced Cardio of choice.

*I did one round of this workout, and paired it with a 30-Minute Run at a comfortable talking pace (3.2 miles total distance).




65 thoughts on “Postpartum & Beyond: Workout 1: Lower Body & Pelvic Strengthening

  1. Grace Richards

    Thank you for being so real with your pregnancy and postpartum journey!! I am 9.5 weeks pregnant with my first baby, and I can now fully appreciate how hard it is to maintain fitness throughout pregnancy. You look amazing, I can only hope to look as good as you after my little one is born. I will be working out with you throughout the challenge, with modifications. I’m excited to see your progress! xxx

  2. Carrie

    I followed a lot of your videos before and during my pregnancy. My little girl is now 6 months old and I’m excited that you are doing this program right before my upcoming beach vacation. Thank you for sharing your journey, motivating us, and making these videos!

  3. Missy

    I opt for doin mountain climber for my cardio, I’m battling plantar fasciitis . My question is because mountain climbers are for core is it ok for me to do core tomorrow? Or is it ok to do core everyday? Thank u such a great mom you are love hearing the baby in th workouts

  4. Peggy

    I’m 49, 17 years post-partum (lol) and battling pre-menopause, but I can’t wait to start this program! I’m pairing it with a 5 week step-bet that I’m currently in. It’s become so hard to lose and/or maintain my weight since age 45. I definitely need the pelvic strengthening exercises, although for different reasons than young mothers. (think coughing, sneezing, laughing issues!) I have some knee and shoulder joint problems, but I’m hoping strengthening the muscles around those will help. I’ve fallen off the consistent work-out wagon lately, and I’m hoping to get back to it!!

  5. Welcome back!! You look amazing and you should feel so proud of yourself for getting through this workout without looking tired at all! Way to go! Im a sweaty mess so thank you!!!

  6. KM

    Do you have any recommendations for the nutrition side of things. Specifically for someone who’s job provides all of their meals? It’s really hard to resist temptation, even though there are healthy options, the sweet treats seem to always call me. I’m grateful that I get to save money so I don’t have to buy breakfast, lunch, or dinner during the week, but my waistline is suffering.

  7. I have been sick with a virus for 3 weeks. So starting all over again! Looking forward to your new workouts! Love them and I always think I hope you never stop sharing! God Bless you! Your amazing!

  8. Kemi Ajayi

    Looking forward to this 6-week series! I am almost 12 months post-partum but still have about 15lbs to go to get back to pre pregnancy weight. Love your workouts!

  9. Linsay

    Hi there!! Looking great and congrats!! Did you have a c section by chance? I’m scheduled for one on September 1 st and just wondering realistically when I’ll be able to get back to my workouts. Baby is of course my first priority! I’ve worked out my entire pregnancy though, have felt great and just hoping recovery won’t be to bad. Thx for all the awesome workouts!!!!


    • benderfitness

      I didn’t, but a typical recovery time is 8 weeks for cesarean, and 6 weeks for vaginal delivery. Your fitness level will help with your recovery. 🙂 Good luck!!!

  10. Angela Jones

    Great workout! I also ran like you said you were going to add. What will your diet/calories be during the challenge and what is your height so I can compare to what I would need?

  11. Linsay, I had two sections, and it took me about 10-12 weeks with both before I felt stable enough to begin my normal workout routine. Even then, it was touch and go with some moves, and your body will let you know what those are! I was cleared at 8 weeks for exercise, and I mostly did my regular routine, but with low impact and low intensity modifications until around the 12 week mark. I found with both sections, nothing *really* felt back to normal until around the nine month postpartum mark. Every woman heals a bit differently, but I have lots of friends who had sections, and we had similar experiences. I also follow fitness professional Jamie Eason Middleton, and after her recent second section, she waited 12 weeks to get back to a more normal routine. Definitely wait until you’re cleared, and your body will let you know loud and clear what you can and can’t do. Good luck! Nothing better than a new baby. 🙂

  12. Kelly

    It’s so great that you are doing this and letting women see the real struggle to get your body back after pregnancy. So many celebrities make it look like it just happens. I’ve done this journey 4x and it’s no easy task but so worth it. You rock Melissa

  13. Shannon S.

    Melissa, you are beautiful inside you out! Thank you so very much for what you do! Congratulations on your sweet baby Maverick! Our babies are just a few weeks apart so it’s fun to see our posts and see how similar they are. You inspire me to be a better mom with what you are able to accomplish as a new mommy. I’ve got two boys now and I am still trying to find balance in life and your workouts are a big help with that! I am so excited to start my postpartum fitness journey with you and so grateful you’re sharing these things with us! Six weeks to sexy! Whoop whoop!

    I am also wondering – are you nursing? I have had a difficult time eating healthy AND maintaining a sufficient milk supply for my little one day-to-day. It seems like I can either eat healthy OR have enough milk to nurse well, but not both. I know there’s got to be something better. Any healthy food suggestions that won’t leave me and my baby starving? Thank you!

    • benderfitness

      Thank you!

      I am breastfeeding. I eat very frequently throughout the day-I joke that Maverick and I are on the same eating schedule because every time I make something he wants to eat at the same time! Instead of large meals, I eat something every few hours. As I pick up the workout intensity I will be monitoring my milk supply to make sure I am maintaining. I will be writing more about it, but you might find Jamie Eason’s Post-Pregnancy Nutrition Guide useful. She is a Fitness personality that I really trust and admire, and there are some great recipes and food ideas here:

  14. Joanna

    Thank you, you are an inspiration to us moms out there trying to maintain healthy bodies and minds. Thank you for all your videos!!

  15. Alli

    Congratulations and welcome back! I just started your 6-Week-Challenge today. I’ve been working out solely to your videos for a little over two years now, often alongside my 5, 3, and 1 year-old kiddos. I literally had to replay the Diastasis Recti video twice so that they could finally see Baby Maverick “outside of her tummy.” We’ve grown so familiar with several of the routines that I now have my 3-yr-old daughter coaching my 5-year-old son for his home school P.E. class. She really likes down dog and mountain climbers 🙂 Thank you so much for what you’re doing. My entire family has benefited from all of your hard work! We really enjoy every workout and your sweet spirit.

  16. Anonymous

    Started with your 6 weeks challenge today. Thank you! I’m 13 weeks post partum & the only shape I’m in is round. Ha ha! I love your workouts & am going to try my best to stick to the 6 weeks. You look fantastic & I am sure you’re a fabulous mom.

  17. Kimm

    Hey! Congratulations on that sweet baby of your! I’m going to try and commit to 6wks. We shall see how I do. I’m going to 51yrs old and am pretty fit. Im a runner, do HITT , and plyometrics as well as strength training. But, getting older i have noticed I am loosing my strength and stamina. Thx for your inspiration! I’ll try and keep you posted. Right now I’m 150lbs, 5’6. I would like to be at 140. My body doesn’t want to be under 145 so I’ll see how disciplined I can be.

  18. Icebaby03

    How do manage your time? With workouts and caring for the baby? Who takes care of the baby while u workout? I am in the same page 6 weeks post oartum and my baby won’t let me out her down.

    • benderfitness

      My workouts are definitely based around his schedule right now. Luckily he likes to be in his swing while I workout, or sometimes plays on his mat. I do have a routine where I play with him, and feed him before I workout. I also tell him that I’m going to workout & that I will hold him and play with him afterwards (I know he’s just a baby, but it’s never to early to start communicating even if he doesn’t understand it yet!)

      I do wear him in a baby carrier during the day, at times when he really wants to be held, but I have to get stuff done. That said, all babies are different! Some sleep more than others, and some want to be held more often.

    • benderfitness

      Not unless you want too! Aiming for 60-minutes of total exercise time per day is perfect, and this workout incorporates cardio and strength training, so repeating it 3X would be sufficient. 🙂

      Great question!

  19. AzizahH

    Hi Melissa, greetings from Malaysia. I am 7 months post-partum and have not done any workout since I gave birth. If I want to start this program, should I do any preparation beforehand? or I can start the program immediately?

    • benderfitness

      You can start the program right away, but listen to your body. If you need to take breaks, or modify any exercises you can do that. It’s all part of the process of rebuilding your strength. 🙂 Congratulations on your little one.

  20. Anonymous

    I started this when you did back in august, but fell of the wagon when life got in my way. But I am back and starting from the beginning!!

  21. Starting today! Better late then never. I am 8 months post-partum after my second C-section baby. The recovery was really hard this time around and have been walking 6km a day which is really all I could handle. Finally feeling ready to kick it up a notch. Thank you so much Melissa for making quality fitness so accessible to all! <3

  22. Andi Fahnestock

    The workout was ultra challenging, esp the sit to stand thingys. I couldn’t even stand up on my left side, but of course I kept trying! Thank you for sending me this link, I am excited to do the program and can’t wait to see the results!

    • benderfitness

      You’re so welcome! The Sit to Stand is always challenging! It’s one of those exercises that looks deceptively simple. If you need anything just let me know!

  23. Nina

    I just started Day 1 of the 6 weeks and beyond I did 1 round with a 21/2 mile run. I am hoping to stay totally motivated I am 10 weeks PP! I got into shape with your videos before babies (2 year old and 10 week old) and I loved the way my body looked. Now I’m 30 lbs overweight and I am ready to get back on track!

  24. Kristin

    I’m almost 56 yrs old but am used to being in fantastic shape …. other situations have had me in bed for most of the time since January, thus I’m not in shape. At all. I did your Week 1 Day 1 and could barely do it 🙁 . There wasn’t any way I could do another round, nor could I do the walk or run afterward for 30 minutes. Feeling like a total failure. I have no weight to lose but am certain my body fat is at an all-time high, and obviously my stamina is zero. Recommendations?
    Thanks for all you do

    • benderfitness

      You are not a failure at all! It takes time for your body to recover, especially after 6 months of bed rest. At this point one round is more than enough, and nothing to feel bad about. Remember, as long as the workout is challenging for you it is increasing your strength/endurance. Over time you will be able to do more rounds again or pair your workout with cardio. Just because you aren’t ready for that now, it doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future.

      Keep building slowly, modify as needed, and don’t judge yourself based on what you could do in the past. Focus on the improvements you will start to see as you progress through the program. If you need ideas for modifications please let me know.

  25. Ali

    Hi,i’am a 9 month post partum and i have a diastasis recti.I Started the safe core exercises now but i want to know when can i start the 6 weeks program challenge?

    • benderfitness

      You can start the challenge as soon as you stay ready. Just remember the movement patterns to avoid and substitute any of the Safe Core Exercises for those movements. If you have any questions about specific moves let me know.

      • Mariam

        Hi Melissa.
        Your workouts are really amazing and your way for delivering the information is very useful! Thank you so much!!
        I have a question how to avoid the movements pattern ? As i dont know what it is? And I have a diastasis recti can I start the excercises for the diastasis recti beside the 6 weeks challenge workout ?
        I delivered my baby 3 months ago so please advise.

        • benderfitness

          Hi Mariam,

          You can definitely start the Diastasis Recti exercises. As you work through the workout challenge, you can substitute any of the Diastasis safe exercises for traditional core moves in any of the workouts.

          Congratulations on your baby!


  26. Holly

    Hey Melissa! Thank you so much for this series! I’m on Day #1 and sweating…feeling encouraged and empowered. I’ve been away from working out for about a year. I love your way of presenting the workouts…it takes away the intimidation. Thank you for all you are doing!!

  27. Aya

    Hi Melissa! I have been a fan of yours for a few years now, so I knew you had created this postpartum series but didn’t think I would ever need it. Well, I became pregnant with my 3rd child and had her at 42. Now, she’s already 13 months old, and I’m finally getting around to starting your postpartum program! I did week one and I feel great! I’ve even got my older girls, who are 10 and 9, doing it with me since they are home for summer vacation. We are planning to go to Hawaii at the end of August, so I am hoping to be bikini-ready by then! Thank you for making these videos.

    • benderfitness

      Congratulations! <3 That's a wonderful goal. I love that you work out with your girls. Keep me posted on how you are doing!

  28. Laura

    Hi Melissa! I’ve been following you for a few years now and used your workouts whenever I was traveling for work, short on time, or wanted to workout at home for a day. I delivered my baby girl just about 6 weeks ago and am so happy to have this postpartum challenge to follow! I can do the workouts at home while she (hopefully) naps, and on weekends when my husband is home to help out. Looking forward to seeing what the next 6 weeks brings!! After workout 1, I’ve already learned that postpartum workouts feel pretty difficult haha so I’m glad I have you to keep me motivated. Congratulations on your second pregnancy!


  29. Hi Melissa!

    About four years after you made this series, I now need it myself! While I’m not postpartum, I had a myomectomy last month. I have four incisions in my abdomen, so I am cautious about core work. I definitely notice I lost some strength. I’m also a professional opera singer, so the core strength for singing is imperative! I was cleared for exercise by my doctor Tuesday, so I thought your program would be a perfect place to start 🙂


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