When it comes to exercising during pregnancy and after birth, I’m a pretty big advocate for it, as you know.

Exercising during pregnancy provides not just you, but your unborn baby with many benefits.

And, one of the best things you can do as a new mum is workout safely after birth, because it not only makes you feel better about yourself, but it sets a great example for your newborn baby too, doesn’t it?

Today’s article is two-fold, as it’s aimed at:

  1. staying fit during pregnancy and,
  2. losing the baby weight after birth.

I’ve narrowed it down 5 top things you need to be doing to increase your fitness level and burn fat, so here goes:

One of the BEST forms of exercise to increase your fitness level and/or melt fat fast, is interval training.

I do interval training in ALL of my prenatal exercise classes, Pilates and Mummies and Buggies classes.

I even run a hot and sweaty, ‘next-step after baby’, higher intensity level class here.

If you’re wanting to NOT have to clutch your chest every time you walk up the stairs because you’re getting out of breathe, maybe a bout of interval training is what your system needs, huh?

Interval training is bursts of higher intensity, followed by lower intensity exercise, training the heart, lungs, arms, legs and core.

Think of it as a full-body workout which is over and done with quickly.

Noticing your fitness level dropping? Or, not seeing any change in your cardiovascular fitness levels, despite the amount of cardio you’re doing?

If you’ve been slogging away doing slow-pace cardio in pregnancy, or you’re postnatal and not shifting any body fat post-baby, it’s time to step away from the cardio machines at the gym and learn how to train smarter.

Gone are the days when, as fitness instructors, we would prescribe 20-30 minutes continuous pace on the cross-trainer, treadmill or bike (and, never mind the boredom it provides, eh?!).

You’ve got to get with the program (quite literally), and vary the intensity, gradient, resistance and pace to make a difference for fat-burning, and/or stop your fitness level from decreasing.

Very simply, if your body isn’t getting sufficient rest on a regular basis, it plays havoc with your hormones.

Your cortisol levels (stress hormones) will be high.

You can do all of the toning and cardio you like, but if your system hormonally isn’t balanced – your body is not in a good state to be able to burn fat and/or repair muscles following your workouts.

So, whilst cleaning up your diet is a great starting point, cleaning up your sleep pattern is actually of higher importance.

Roughly 60% of your body is made up of water.

H2O is needed to promote circulation, and necessary to be able to process and transmit toxins in and out of your body.

Drinking water clears your skin, promotes digestion, transports nutrients, helps with fat burning, boosts hydration and can starve off hunger.

The next time you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water instead of reaching for a snack.

If you’re already thirsty, you’re generally already dehydrated, so aim for 2 litres of filtered water per day.

THE most neglected component to fitness = flexibility.

Have you ever been to an exercise class where you’ve only done a few token stretches at the end (or none at all), and then a few days later felt a tonne of muscle soreness? Ouch!

Know someone (usually male – tee hee!) who exercises hard intermittently, or plays five-a-side football and constantly complains of hamstring pain/tearing after the event?

That’s because you didn’t (or rather he has probably never!) returned the body’s muscles back to their original length post-workout.

It’s all connected, so if get your muscles at the right length (by increasing their flexibility), you can then start applying load to them.

You can’t get optimum strength in a muscle, unless it’s at its desired length first, so stretching may be your (or that special male in your life’s) missing link to fitness or fat loss – who knew?!

If you’ve had your baby recently and you’re wanting a truly effective fat-burning class where you can really focus on yourself for one hour a week, click here.

My Little Black Dress Workout is a baby-free zone, and operates on Mondays in West Bridgford at 8:30pm (perfect time to get the littlies in bed), and postnatal options are provided.

If you’re pregnant and concerned you’re not doing a lot of exercise that gets you warm and sweaty and/or you’re getting out of breathe walking up the stairs, click here to remedy that!

My Bump to Babe pregnancy fitness classes on Mondays in Lady Bay provide cardio, toning, Pilates and stretching.