Post Baby Body: Arm & Shoulder toning

Post Baby Body Arm And Shoulder ToningSo your bundle of joy has been home for a couple of months (or a few years) and you both have settled into a routine.  Now what to do about this post-baby body?  You are lifting and carrying more than ever but your arms still don’t have the same tone that they used to have! Start the Daily Mom post-baby arm & shoulder toning exercises and your arms will be as buff as Madonna’s in no time!  Below you will find some of the most effective exercises for arm strengthening.  If your whole body needs a tune-up, keep an eye out for the Daily Mom fitness challenge coming soon!

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 Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program since each individual heals differently after pregnancy.  Women who have had a c-section will generally need to wait at least 6-8 weeks after surgery before starting any weight training.

For strength training you should use a weight that allows you to complete only 8-12 repetitions with good form. If you are just starting out, try a lighter weight and perform 15-20 reps until you can perform the exercise using good form consistently.

For exercises using your body weight, start with 10 repetitions.  Once you have the correct form down, work up to 20 repetitions. Eventually make the exercise more difficult and lower the repetitions back to 10.

Do 1 set of each exercise the first 2 weeks.  Increase to 2 sets for the next 2-3 weeks and then to 3 sets.  Rest 30-60 seconds between each set.

Don’t have time to do the whole workout?  Do at least 1 exercise from each muscle group (biceps, triceps, deltoids & rotator cuff).  Do the other exercises at your next session.  Try to do 2 sessions each week.

Equipment recommended:  Dumbbells, Exercise Ball, chair/bench

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Bicep Curls to Shoulder Press

Primary muscles worked: Biceps, Deltoids, & Triceps

Do it:

  1. Sitting on the edge of a chair and holding an 8-10 pound dumbbell in each hand, start with your arms at your sides with palms facing forward.
  2. Bend your elbows, curling the weights up towards your shoulders.
  3. Turn your wrists so that your palms are now facing away from your body.
  4. Now press the weights over your head and extend your arms straight up.
  5. Lower the weights to shoulder level, turn elbows back in towards your body and lower weight to starting position.
  6. Perform 8-12 repetitions.

Form tips:  When raising weights over your head, keep them in line with your shoulders.

Too easy?  Try to perform the exercise standing – this will require more muscle recruitment from your core.

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Bent Over Row to Triceps Kickback

Primary muscles worked: Triceps, Middle Back

Do it:

  1. Holding an 8-10 pound dumbbell in your right hand, bend forward and place your left hand and left knee on a bench or low table.  Start with your right arm hanging down towards the floor.
  2. Lift the dumbbell up towards your hip, keeping your elbow bent and close to your torso.
  3. Once your arm is parallel with your torso, extend your elbow and lift the weight until it is near your hip.
  4. Slowly lower the weight by bending your elbow first and then lowering the weight back to starting position.
  5. Perform 8-12 repetitions.

Form tips:  Keep your abdominal muscles engaged to protect your back. Keep the leg that is on the ground slightly bent.

Too easy?  Hold for a couple seconds at the extended position before slowly lowering back down.

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Alternating Arm Lifts

Primary muscles worked: Deltoids, Rotator Cuff, Biceps – Long head

Do it:

  1. Stand holding a 3-5 pound dumbbell in each hand, start with your arms at your sides.
  2. Keeping your elbows straight but not locked, lift the weights up in front of you  – only to shoulder level.
  3. Lower slowly to starting position, still keeping your elbows straight.
  4. Now lift the dumbbells out to the side, elbows straight but not locked – only to shoulder level.
  5. Lower the weights slowly to starting position, still keeping your elbows straight.
  6. Repeat sequence 8-12 times.

Form tips:  Make sure you are standing tall with your abdominal muscles engaged throughout the exercise.

Too easy?  Add a light resistance band – hold one end in your hand (wrapped around the weight) and the other end under your foot on the same side.

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Hammer Curls

Primary muscles worked: Brachioradialis, Biceps

Do it:

  1. Holding an 8-10 pound dumbbell in each hand, start with your arms at your sides with palms turned in towards your body.
  2. To start the exercise, bend your elbows and raise the dumbbells up towards your shoulders.
  3. Next, lower the dumbbells down to the starting position by extending your elbows.
  4. Perform 8-12 repetitions.

Form tips: Keep your elbows close to your torso throughout the exercise.

Too easy?  Try lifting weight up towards opposite shoulder. Use heavier weights!

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Chair Dips

Primary muscles worked:  Triceps, Anterior Deltoid

Do it:

  1. Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair or flat bench with your feet extended out in front of you and flat on the floor.
  2. Position your hands on the chair/bench near your hips with your fingers wrapped around the front edge of the chair/bench.
  3. Hold your body up by putting most of your weight into your arms and slide your hips forward so they clear the chair/bench. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor still – take a step or two forward with your feet so your knees are bent about 90 degrees.
  4. Lower your hips towards the ground by letting your elbows bend to 90 degrees.
  5. Push off the chair and extend your elbows lifting your hips back to the level of the chair.
  6. Perform 10-15 repetitions.

Form tips: Keep your elbows back – don’t let them flare outward.  If you are finding the exercise difficult, only lower your hips halfway.

Too easy?  Straighten your legs out in front of you with your heels resting on the floor.  To make it more difficult, put your heels up onto another chair!

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Reverse Fly

Primary muscles worked: Posterior Deltoid, Upper & Middle Back

Do it:

  1. Standing, bend forward at the waist keeping your abdominal muscles engaged and your back straight.  Hold a 2-3 pound dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging towards the floor.
  2. Lift your arms out to the sides, just up to shoulder level – squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top.
  3. Slowly lower your arms back to starting position.
  4. Perform 8-12 repetitions.

Form tips:  When lifting arms, keep your elbows slightly bent.  Don’t let your hands go higher than shoulder level.

Too easy?  Try performing this exercise while lying with your chest on an exercise ball and your legs extended behind you.

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Push-Up on a Ball

Primary muscles worked: Triceps, Chest (Pectoralis Major)

Do it:

  1. Get into a push up position with your legs up on an exercise ball so that it is positioned on your shins, just below your knees.
  2. Place your hands on the floor so that they are slightly more than shoulder width apart.
  3. Do a push up!
  4. Perform 10-15 repetitions.

Form tips:  Keep your back straight and your abdominal muscles engaged.  Your body should be a straight line. Don’t put your knees on the ball – keep it on your thighs or shins.

Too easy?  Position the ball so that it is closer to your ankles.  Move your hands closer together – try placing your hands in the shape of a triangle (put your index fingers and thumbs together as shown in picture) to really challenge yourself!

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Side-Lying External Rotation

Primary muscles worked: Rotator Cuff (Teres Minor)

Do it:

  1. Start by lying on your left side on a bench or table, near the edge.  Position your right upper arm along your torso with your elbow bent 90 degrees, your forearm across your abdomen holding a 3 pound weight.
  2. Rotate your shoulder, lifting the weight until it is at least parallel to the ground.
  3. Slowly lower the weight and repeat.
  4. Perform 8-12 repetitions.  Don’t forget to turn over and do the other side!

Form tips:  When lifting the weight – keep your elbow tucked into your side.  If this feels awkward, place a towel roll between your arm and torso.  Your wrist should stay in a neutral position (don’t bend it up or down).

Too easy?  Try using an exercise band tied to a sturdy chair or table in front of you.


Make sure you check out our FITNESS category for more ways to stay active! Currently pregnant and want to stay fit? Read about Pregnancy Safe Fitness!

This post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician, doctor or health care professional. Please read our terms of use for more information.

Photo credit: The Art of Making a Baby



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Kristy Timm
Kristy Timm
Kristy lives in FL with her husband, daughter and their cat. They are expecting a new addition in the summer of 2014! She has a Bachelors and Doctorate in Physical Therapy and has worked in Orthopedics, Vestibular, and Ergonomics for the last 12 years. She loves spending time with her hubby and daughter enjoying music, reading, playing, and learning American Sign Language. Her other interests include traveling, being active, and catching up with family and friends.

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