Getting back into the gym post-partum can seem daunting. With the extensive changes that occur to the body during and after pregnancy, it is common to feel unsure, apprehensive, or even scared. With the likes of Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Matilda’s midfielder, Katrina Gorry coming under the spotlight when returning to sport after pregnancy, the concept that athlete and motherhood cannot co-exist is still prominent.  

As Trent Stellingwerff, director of Innovation and Research at the Canadian Sport Institute says, “Everyone thought your career was done after a baby. We now have tonnes of data to show that it can be the start of your career in some instances.” 

Recently, ultra-marathon athlete Camille Herron proved exactly this. At the age of 42, she broke 12 world records, including the women’s six-day running world-record of 883 kilometres (set by Sandy Barwick in 1990), Herron ran a total of 901 kilometres over six-days, amid perimenopause. Fuelled by tacos, pumpkin pie, naps every four hours and singing Beyonce, Madonna and Led Zeplin songs to herself, Herron was able to run an average of 150km each day!  

Indeed, navigating not only how to safely, but confidently return to the gym can often feel intimidating, due to the myriad of changes that the body undergoes during this period. 


Common pregnancy-related concerns:  

  • Abdominal changes- reduced strength, abdominal separation (DRAM), post-recovery from a caesarean delivery.
  • Postural changes. 
  • Pelvic floor changes (reduced strength, bladder and bowel incontinence) 
  • New aches and pains (low back, pelvic and hip, SIJ), which can be attributed to changes in ligamentous laxity. 
  • Pelvic organ prolapse. 
  • Post-partum depression, feeling like a ‘lost sense of self’, body confidence changes, feelings of guilt. 
  • Gestational diabetes. 

Prior to starting back at the gym, it’s important to prioritise your own health and wellbeing. Ensure that you can exercise safely first.  


What should I consider before starting back at the gym? 

  • Ensure that you give your body plenty of time to rest and recover (at least six weeks is recommended). 
  • Obtain clearance from your general health practitioner prior to getting back into the gym. 
  • Consider starting with low impact exercise such as walking first. 
  • Focus on diaphragmatic breathing, as well as pelvic floor and deep abdominal exercises early post-partum. Gentle stretching is also recommended. 
  • After obtaining medical clearance from your general health practitioner, start with body weight resistance, before progressing into lighter weights.
  • Getting back into higher impact exercise such as running will take time.

 Ensure you receive medical clearance first. A guided rehabilitation program can be helpful to ensure a safe return to this activity.  

  • Maximise rest periods.


Helpful tips:

A guided rehabilitation or structured and progressive exercise program can help address post-partum related concerns. At CSSM, we can help you. Through our PIER gym, you will undergo a one-on-one assessment where we will talk about your goals, perform a full body assessment, address any injuries/ aches and pains that you may have and provide you with an individualised gym program. 

Initially, you will participate in two one-on-one sessions where you will learn safe exercise techniques and provides us with the opportunity to make any changes in your gym program, if needed. After, you can start booking into classes (maximum of four people per class), where you are closely monitored and instructed through your own program. Find out more here. 

  • Exercise with a friend. Research has shown that mothers who exercise with a friend or in a group can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. 
  • Make a music playlist to motivate you. 

If you prefer other modalities of exercise such as pilates, read our blog post on pilates during pregnancy: 

The bottom line… Getting back into the gym is daunting for many mothers- whether it is six weeks postpartum or three years. During this period, it is paramount to emphasise the importance of self-compassion and acknowledge that every mother’s journey back into the gym will look different. 


About the author 

Physiotherapist Grace Rutter believes patients should feel supported whilst being provided tailored education and a comprehensive management plan based upon their rehabilitation and lifestyle goals. 

Grace has a particular interest in neck injuries (including neck related headache), sporting injuries, women’s health, knee rehabilitation, as well as running injuries. 

With an additional degree in sports and exercise science, Grace also worked with various high performance athletes including the Port Melbourne VFL club. 

Grace has experience working in acute hospitals (cardio/ musculoskeletal/neuro), subacute settings (geriatric evaluation and management), and women’s health (acute, private, continence clinic), She has also had experience working in private practice. 



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