You love your workouts and you’re determined to stay active and exercise during pregnancy. That’s great! Maintaining your fitness can have huge benefits for how you feel, in the delivery room and when you have a beautiful new baby to care for.
Of course, you need to have a conversation about exercise during pregnancy with your doctor first – there is no such thing as being ‘too safe’ when it comes to the health of you and your baby. With the right guidance and approvals, it is safe to continue working out while pregnant – but what kind of workouts can you do? And are some exercises better than others?
Remember that working out while pregnant will be different. Throughout each trimester of pregnancy, your body goes through a number of changes – which will impact different muscle groups in different ways. Some muscles will tighten, others will elongate and weaken. By knowing what happens where, you can target your exercises to maintain strength and functionality in the areas your pregnant body needs it most!
There are 5 physiotherapist-approved exercises I have included in workouts during both of my pregnancies and I’d love to share with you why they have been beneficial for me – and why they could play an essential role in your pregnancy workout plan, too.
1. Leaning forward dumbbell rows
As your baby bump and boobies grow, your body becomes front-heavy – your shoulders rolling forward, tightening your chest muscles and weakening the muscles in your upper back.
These leaning forward dumbbell rows will help maintain the strength through your upper back while the weight of your pregnancy is naturally pulling your posture forward. Take the time to set your position up, keeping your shoulder down and maintaining a neutral spine throughout.
There are so many variations of the squat (body weight squat, archer squat, side squat, ballerina squat) and they can all deliver big benefits during pregnancy.
As your pregnancy progresses and your lower body starts bearing more weight, your hip flexors, quads and lower back will tighten, while your hamstrings, glutes, pelvic floor and abdominals weaken. As a compound resistance exercise, squats will help to maintain strength and range of motion in your hips, glutes and quads. And when the time comes, you’ll find they also boost your endurance as you’re preparing to give birth. Remember to only squat as low as you feel comfortable.
3. Bicep curls to lateral raises
Think forward to when that bump is a bub – you’re going to need some serious arm and upper-body strength to carry that cutie around, and this exercise will get you into baby-carrying shape.
Make sure your technique is good – ensure your shoulders are back and down – and bicep curls into lateral raises will help tone your shoulders and keep those baby-carrying arms strong!
4. All fours opposite arm and leg raises
Opposite arm and leg raises – performed on all fours – are a great way to maintain strength through your core, hips and back. They will also switch on the stabiliser muscles in your upper body, which you’ll rely on more and more as your pregnancy progresses.
If it gets too hard, drop the leg raises and concentrate on activating your core while alternating arm raises.
5. Supported glute bridge
Your booty can get a little lazy during pregnancy, but not if we maintain strength with regular, safe glute exercises.
Perform the bridges with cushions under your upper back to avoid the weight of your tummy obstructing blood flow back to your heart (the venous return).
Don’t forget, in any pregnancy workout safety is your top priority. If you feel any pain, dizziness, nausea or discomfort when exercising, please stop straight away and consult your doctor or obstetrician as soon as you can.
Emily Skye is a strength training expert and the face of FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness. She is also co-founder of James Cosmetics and a mother of two.
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