Today’s fitness post goes out to all of our pregnant readers out there. When it comes to your workout routine, you might be wondering what to expect when you’re expecting… Well, when it comes to your body and prenatal exercise routine, it’s best to keep an open mind. One of the most important things to remember as you progress through your pregnancy, is that everyone’s body is different. Just because something worked for one of your prego girlfriends doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for your body. With that in mind today, we’re recently got together with our good friend and favorite personal trainer, Dr. Hunter Vincent, to talk about some great ways all of our mama-to-be readers to stay fit and feel healthy for all 9 months. We also enlisted our lovely friend and girl boss, Ellie Richardson, founder of the jewelry wipes company, Bling Wipes, who is expecting a baby girl in November and was nice enough to be our fitness model! Let’s get into it, shall we?
It’s important to note that the range of physical capability with pregnancy can range from everything including running marathons to being bed-bound, Hunter says. So, before starting any exercise routine, it is crucial to discuss your exercise goals with your OB/GYN or primary care physician to make sure your body is ready for the challenge.
That being said, exercise has been shown to have many benefits for pregnant women, including decreasing back pain, helping with mood and sleep, and improving endurance, explains Hunter. Here are some helpful tips to keep in my mind when starting your prenatal exercise plan:
1. Go slow!
Your body is experiencing a very intense mixture of physical, hormonal and mental stress. Keeping your body moving can be challenging, and it’s important to listen to your body and always be aware of how it feels whenever performing an exercise. So keep this in mind when you’re starting out… Start low and go slow.
2. Activate your core.
It’s always a great idea to start from the inside out, but even more so when we are talking about pre- and postnatal exercise. Activating your core muscles is extremely crucial for setting the proper foundation, but it’s not all about crunches. Activating the deeper abdominal layers such as the Transversus Abdomens, as well as internal and external oblique muscles can provide stability to your spine and pelvis which can promote better posture and help your body adapt to the many changes it is undergoing. Modified versions of Pilates, Bar Method, or Dailey Method are a couple great options that focus on activating the core, and performing exercises with perfect technique.
3. Don’t forget about your Kegel exercises.
Kegel exercises specifically train the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles make up the base of your pelvis and hold up the organs in your abdomen, including your bladder and uterus. Stress and strain to these muscles can lead to symptoms such as leakage of urine during normal movements or coughing, which can often times be a problem after pregnancy. However, the Kegel muscles are also very important for stabilizing your pelvis during activity. Many professional athletes actually perform Kegel exercises, because it increases core stability during training and performance. The easiest way to start activating your pelvic floor, Hunter says, is to pretend like you are “holding your pee.” YUP! Imagine that you really, really need to go, but you try to hold it in. These muscles are your Kegels. Here’s a quick exercise to get started. Activate your Kegels, aka “hold your pee,” for 10 seconds. Then, rest for a second. Then activate for another 10 seconds. Try to go for a total of 60 seconds. Pretty soon, you will be activating during all of your workout routines and daily activities. Hey, it’s not glamorous, but it’s super effective.
4. Total body exercises are key.
Do more exercises that involve multi-joint movements, because they promote more holistic, functional improvements in the body. By encouraging your body to move as one, you can work to improve strength and conditioning in a wide range of movements and activities.
5. Up your hip stability.
Whether you’re a pro athlete or just a relatively active pregnant woman, strengthening your hips could be the single most important exercise you do. If you had to pick just one of the five, choose this one. Your hips are integral to all types of movement in your body. One of the best ways to activate the hip muscles is by using mini bands in your workouts. If you do them properly, you will feel the burn! Trust me. There are so many creative ways to use mini bands. But remember, start simple, keep good form, and work your way up.
Take a peek below to see Hunter’s workout, which will get you started on your pregnancy workout routine. You will notice that the excises below follow the same principles as listed above. It’s all about creating a strong foundation to keep your body physically and mentally healthy to best nourish your growing child, and help control some of the aches and pains of pregnancy. Have fun!
1. Sumo Squats:2-3 sets x 20 reps
Keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, with your feet turned slightly outward. Squat down until your knees are at 90 degrees, and slowly raise your arms above your head as you go down. This total-body exercise will help strength your butt and thighs, while helping you maintain good posture.
2. Warrior 2 Hold: 2-3 sets x 45 second hold
The warrior 2 pose is a great hybrid exercise, focusing on strength and flexibility. Here are a couple tips for to maximize your warrior stance. First, although your arms are raised, always try to keep your shoulders back and down, to decrease the stress on your neck and shoulders. And second, try to keep your front knee behind your toe to minimize stress on the knee joint.
3. Elbow to Knee Plank Holds: 2 sets of 45 second holds
Start in the “on all 4’s” position, and extend your opposite arm and leg, so you match the photo above. Once you’re in this position, hold for 45 seconds, then switch sides. This is a great isometric exercise to strengthen the glutes, core, and back muscles without adding too much stress on the body.
4. Prone Rotary Spine: 2 sets of 10 reps each side
This exercise is harder than it looks! It focuses primarily on rotational range of motion in the thoracic spine. Starting in a position similar to a modified child’s pose in yoga, bring one hand behind your head, as shown in the photo. Keeping your hips, knees and spine in alignment, rotate your upper body, opening your chest towards the side where your arm is on your head. Don’t force it! Simply move your upper body throughout its active range of motion, continuing to breathe! Try a set of 10 and switch sides.
5. Modified Side Plank: 2 sets of 60 seconds each side
Keeping your bottom knee on the ground, and resting on your forearm, open up your chest and point your other arm towards the sky. Now take your top leg and keep it straight, and level with your body. Here’s a tip: Keep your core activated and your glutes tightened to provide the strongest foundation.
6. Modified Tricep Pushups: 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps
To make this exercise a little easier and accommodate for the added weight in the mid-section, start in a modified push up position on your knees. Now, keeping your elbow close to your side, slowly lower your chest to the ground. Push yourself back to the top and head back down of another rep. To make it a little more difficult, try to look forward. Bonus points: This move also promotes better posture.
7. Reverse Lunges with Y: 2-3 sets of 20 reps
Here’s a small modification to a classic reverse lunge, which promotes better alignment in the spine, and makes for a more functional total body exercise. The only difference is that as you step back into your lunge, raise your arms up into a “Y” position, making yourself as tall as possible, and lengthening your upper body. As always, remember to keep your front knee behind your toe. If you’re looking for a little extra challenge, feel free to add light hand dumbbells!
And there you have it, mamas-to-be! You can also give this workout a try even if you’re not expecting. It’s a great, low-impact routine if you’re recovering from an injury or taking it easy for a recovery day. Thanks again to our resident fitness expert Dr. Hunter Vincent for sharing this awesome workout routine! If you liked this post, are a couple great articles that go a bit more in depth to provide accurate and up to date information about exercising while pregnant:
- Mayo Clinic: Pregnancy and Exercise
- America Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Exercise During Pregnancy
So, what do you think…
Will you give this workout from Dr. Hunter a try?
Another big thanks to Dr. Hunter and Ellie Richardson of Bling Wipes for helping us put this awesome pregnancy workout together! Be sure to follow daily updates from Hunter and Bling Wipes by following them on Instagram here and here.
XO Team LC