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Keeping Fit During Pregnancy: Your Ultimate Guide to Safe Exercises

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Keeping Fit During Pregnancy: Your Ultimate Guide to Safe Exercises

Remember that mix of excitement and nerves when you first saw those telling lines appear? Yeah, it’s a moment etched in your memory forever. Now that you’re navigating pregnancy, it’s all about figuring out what changes and what sticks. The great news? Staying active is a top priority for the next 9 months, whether you’re keeping up your current routine or starting anew. We’ve got your back on this journey, from home workouts to gym sessions, here’s everything you need to know about staying fit during pregnancy.

The Perks of Prenatal Exercise

If you once associated exercise solely with fitting into smaller jeans, it’s time for a shift in perspective. Now that you’re expecting, exercise packs a whole new set of benefits. Think lower risks of preterm birth, cesarean delivery, excessive weight gain, and even gestational diabetes. And let’s not forget the perks for you: maintaining fitness, easing that growing tummy discomfort, and managing mood swings like a boss. Plus, it sets you up for a smoother postpartum recovery.

First Trimester Exercises: Laying the Foundation

  1. Pelvic Curl – this is a great way to begin working on spinal mobility and strengthening the abdominal muscles that will support your belly as it grows
  • Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet planted firmly on the ground, spaced about hip-width apart.
  • Inhale deeply to prepare for the movement, then exhale as you tilt your pelvis (or “hips”) upwards, pressing your lower back into the floor.
  • Maintain this tucked position as you continue to exhale, smoothly lifting your spine off the ground, segment by segment, until you reach your shoulder blades.
  • Pause briefly at the peak of the movement, inhaling at this point to maintain control.
  • Exhale again as you slowly lower your spine back down to the starting position, guiding each vertebra to the floor until your pelvis rests comfortably.
  • Aim to complete 12 to 15 repetitions of this exercise. For an additional challenge, try bringing your legs closer together throughout the movement.

 

  1. Squats – The first trimester is a great time to start incorporating squats into your routine! If you have access to a gym, you can also utilize the leg press machine. Squats, particularly bodyweight squats, are suitable exercises to continue throughout your entire pregnancy.
  • Stand in front of a couch with your back towards it. Begin with your feet positioned just slightly wider than hip-width apart. Utilize the couch as a reference point to maintain proper form.
  • Lower yourself into a squat position as if you’re about to sit down on the couch, but stop just before your thighs make contact with it.
  • Aim for a slow descent, taking approximately 5 seconds to lower yourself, and then return to the starting position over about 3 seconds.
  • Exhale as you squat down, and inhale as you rise back up to standing.
  • Complete 2 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions each.

 

  1. Bicep Curls – This straightforward yet highly effective exercise is a great choice throughout pregnancy. Bicep curls are particularly beneficial for preparing your arms for the repetitive lifting and holding involved in caring for your baby.
  • Begin by holding 5- to 10-pound dumbbells. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Exhale as you gradually bend your elbows, bringing the dumbbells toward your shoulders.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position.
  • Aim for a 3-second duration to lift the dumbbells and a 5-second duration to lower them.
  • Complete 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions each.

 

Second Trimester Workouts: Keeping the Momentum

  1. Hip Flexor and Quadriceps Stretch – During the second trimester, it’s recommended to establish a stretching routine that specifically targets areas like the hip flexors, quadriceps, low back, gluteals, and calves due to changes in posture.
  • Begin by assuming a half-kneeling position on the floor. Place your right knee on the ground and your left foot in front of you, with the left foot flat on the floor.
  • Maintain an upright posture as you gently lunge forward toward your left foot, ensuring you feel a stretch in the front of your right hip and thigh.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, then release the stretch gradually. Repeat this process two more times.
  • Switch sides and perform the stretch on the opposite leg, following the same procedure.

 

  1. Side Lying Leg Lifts – To prepare for the changes in your center of gravity, it’s essential to strengthen the muscles responsible for balance and pelvic stabilization.
  • Lie on your right side with both knees bent and stacked on top of each other.
  • Gently raise your right side off the floor to create a small space between your waist and the floor, which helps level your pelvis.
  • Straighten your left leg and slightly angle it in front of you. Rotate your hip so that your toes point downwards toward the floor.
  • Exhale slowly as you lift your leg, taking about 3 seconds to raise it, and inhale for 3 seconds as you lower it. Maintain the slight gap between your waist and the floor throughout the movement.
  • Aim for 2 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions on each side.

 

  1. Mermaid Stretch – As your baby grows, it may exert pressure on your diaphragm and ribs, leading to discomfort.
  • Sit on the floor with both knees bent (or folded) and your feet pointing to the right.
  • Inhale and raise your left arm straight up towards the ceiling. Then, exhale as you lean your torso sideways towards the right. You should feel the stretch along the left side of your body in this position. Hold the stretch for 4 slow, deep breaths.
  • If you experience discomfort on the left side, this is the direction you should focus on stretching.
  • To stretch the opposite side, reverse the directions. This helps alleviate discomfort on the right side. To mitigate the risk of discomfort, it’s advisable to stretch in both directions starting from the second trimester.

 

Third Trimester Routines: Navigating the Home Stretch

As you approach the finish line, it’s all about maintaining cardiovascular health and mobility. Think walking, swimming, or a relaxing prenatal yoga session.

And hey, let’s not forget about that pelvic floor—those exercises are absolute gold. But hold up—avoid anything that puts you at risk of falls, and keep an eye out for that pesky pubic symphysis pain. It’s all about staying safe and comfortable as you prepare for the big day.

 

In Summary: Embracing the Fitness Journey

Staying active during pregnancy isn’t just about physical health; it’s a mental game-changer too. So, whether you’re hitting the gym or doing home workouts, remember to listen to your body and take it easy if needed. And of course, chat with your doc if you’ve got any concerns along the way. You’ve got this, mama!

Get a specific eating and exercise program to suit you. Book a free chat in the studio with one of our experienced trainers today

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