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Functional Strength for Mums

Oct 25, 2022   •   
Functional Strength for Mums


As humans we go through a variety of movements in our everyday life – we walk, bend down, reach, twist, lift and carry. These are all functional movement patterns. If Mums were given a dollar for every time they ‘deadlifted’ toys off the floor or ‘bicep curled’ their baby up without realising – they’d all be millionaires!

In reality, the basic demands of mum life are quite physical which is why it’s important for mums, as well as expecting mums, to train effectively using functional strength training to support their daily movements. Knowing this information can assist you in choosing the best exercises to bulletproof your body for motherhood and beyond.

Here’s to strong women – may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!


Every workout should start with pre-activation exercises to switch on your transverse abdominus (TrA) as well as your pelvic floor (PF) muscles. If you haven’t had an assessment with your local Women’s Health Physio, we highly recommend doing this before you start training or soon after to ensure you are aware of  your strength baseline.

As MumSafe Trainers, we love the below pre activations for Pre & Post Natal Exercise:

  • Transverse abdominis (TA) breathing (3-5 breaths)
    Start by lying on your back with knees bent and place your fingertips just inside of your hip bones. Focus on breathing naturally before slightly drawing the skin away from your underwear. Another great cue is to visualise a string pulling your hip bones together. Hold for one second before relaxing.
  • Pelvic floor (PF) switch ons (3-5 breaths)
    Stay laying on your back – again breathing naturally – and then visualise a tissue being drawn in and up your front passage, hold for one second, before slowly relaxing. Another great cue is to visualise a jellyfish slowly bobbing up and down, or the feeling of holding in a wee.
  • Bird Dogs
    These are a really awesome exercise for stabilising your core as well as connecting your glute and back muscles. Think about reaching your arms and legs long (rather than upwards). If you need to regress this movement, simply slide your hands and toes along the ground for some extra support.


  • Squats
    Focus on switching on your TrA and PF before each set so that you’re not placing extra pressure on these muscles. Only go as far as your mobility allows and potentially use a box as a depth guide so you don’t sit too low. Practise keeping your back held strong throughout each rep – this will prepare your body for lifting tiny humans at home!
  • Deadlifts
    My favourite movement of all time! If you’ve ever lifted up shopping bags, cleaned up toys off the floor, lifted a little one out of their bouncer – you’ve done a deadlift without realising. Keep your knees soft, core switched on and back tight – drive those hips back until you feel some tension in your hamstrings before standing back upright. No need to squeeze your bum at the top, as the effort is in the stretched position. Make sure your back doesn’t round and that you’re not ‘pushing down’ on your Pelvic Floor.
  • Glute Bridges
    Perfect for those with knee issues or mums needing to do a little more rebuilding before progressing to squats and lunges – glute bridges are awesome for strengthening up your glute muscles with little to no impact on your joints. Training your glutes can also help to alleviate back pain while supporting the daily demands of mum life.


  • Standing Rows
    With so much bending over and leaning forward as a mum, your back muscles are placed under a lot of strain. Doing standing rows is a great way to strengthen these muscles without placing added pressure on your core.
  • Bicep Curls
    Bicep curls aren’t just for bodybuilders and are a functional exercise that replicate the lifting and lowering mums do on a daily basis. The key is to ensure that you keep your torso upright and aren’t ‘swinging’ the weight.
  • Overhead Shoulder Press
    Again, a really functional upper body movement is the overhead shoulder press. Think about how many times you’ve lifted bub above your head, placed something on the top shelf in the kitchen or hung out laundry on the clothesline. Keep your chest upright and don’t lean back – if you need to lean back to get the weight up, it’s a little too heavy.

Need some support in finding the best exercises for YOU? Reach out to your local MumSafe Trainer – we’d love to help!

Lauren Irvine runs LIFT Coaching in Brisbane, Queensland. As a former journalist, Lauren became a fitness professional for women and mums after discovering a burning desire to empower women through education.

Lauren Irvine runs in . Learn more about Lauren and today.

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