Before we get started, I just want to reiterate that I am not a doctor. These are the pregnancy exercises that have been working well for me, and in my 20th week everything with my baby is healthy and normal. Please talk to your doctor about any new exercise routine before you start.
Your goal should be repeating each move three times. If you can only do one set to start, that is totally OK! You’ll get stronger as you go. You can also increase the number of sets for each move separately. Maybe you do three sets of deep breathing but start out with one set of squats. Just do what you can, and don’t push too hard.
What’s more important is that you get moving. Don’t focus on how much you’re doing – just be proud of yourself for doing this for your body and for your baby!
1. 100 Up
This is a conditioning exercise for runners, but it’s great at improving your walking stride and your posture, too. Unlike the rest of this series, you’ll just do one set of this move. You’re basically marching in place to 100 steps, raising your knees as high as you can. This video shows you how to properly do the 100 Up:
Important tip: it is 100 steps total, so 50 per side. When I first started doing the 100 Up, I thought it was 100 steps per foot, and it was totally exhausting!
2. Deep Breathing
Sit criss-cross on the floor. If you’re getting big, you can sit against a wall to support your back. Place one hand on your lower abdomen and one on the top of your bump, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Hold for 30 seconds, then release.
3. Pelvic Floor Exercises
You probably think of incontinence as something that happens post-delivery, but pregnancy hormones can cause prenatal incontinence, too. Strengthening your pelvic floor with Kegel exercises can help with this! My friend Lisa Bennett, who is a licensed prenatal yoga instructor, suggested combining pelvic floor exercises with squats, so you can do this as a separate move – sitting or standing – or you can do it with exercises #4 or #5 below.
To do this exercise, you want to flex the muscles that stop the flow of urine. The idea is to do this without tightening your abs or glutes. Hold for up to 15 seconds. You probably won’t be able to do 15 seconds at first, but that’s the goal. Add a second or two as your muscles get stronger until you get there.
You can do this with or without weights. I use three pound dumbbells, not like this fellow, though this is a good representation of what your squat should look like:
You can even bend your knees and stick your butt out a little bit more, if you’re flexible enough to go deeper.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and come into a squat – imagine that you’re sitting down on a chair. Hold the squat while you do 10-15 overhead presses. To do an overhead press, bend your elbows, so your hands are next to your shoulders, then raise your arms straight up over your head.
5. Wide-Legged Squat
This is another move that can use weights. I use those same three pounders, but you should use whatever feels comfortable to you.
Move your feet so that they are further than shoulder-width apart with your toes turned out slightly, bend at your knees into a squat. If your knees extend over the tops of your feet, you should widen your stance. Raise your arms straight out to the sides until your hands are level with your shoulders, then lower your hands back down to neutral. Repeat 10-15 times.
On the next page, check out some yoga moves that are great for a healthy pregnancy!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by jontunn