During my last pregnancy, I created a 36-week PDF program for all moms, expecting or postpartum, along with Jenn Glysson—my best friend, a fellow trainer, and a badass mom. We’ve trained numerous women through their pregnancies, and almost all of them think that once they become pregnant, they can no longer work out. Of course, with their doctor’s permission, they can! Fun fact for prenatal women: pregnant women who exercised three times per week shortened their labor time by an average of 57 minutes and were less likely to get an epidural.
Working out controls weight gain within a healthy range for your body, limits lower back pain, and builds stamina for labor and delivery, not to mention improves confidence. These exercises strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, which can also help prevent the lower back pain that is common during pregnancy. (YES, you can work your core while expecting!)
Here are a few of my favorite moves to stay strong and fit for both me and my growing baby, and to prepare myself to be the best mom I can be while doing it all, as moms do!
Single Leg/Single Arm Row
Plank Shift Forward with Reach
Side Bridge Hip/Leg Lift
Mom Get Ups
The Move: Single Leg/Single Arm Row
How to: Standing on one leg, tip forward from your hips, keeping a slight bend in your base leg. Extend the floating leg back behind you and hold that position. Hold a weight in the opposite hand of the leg you’re standing on. Keeping your shoulders and hips square to the ground, let the weight go from a hanging position, to back and up toward the ceiling by pulling your elbow back toward your glutes. Repeat all reps before switching to the other leg and other arm.
As your belly starts growing, your balance will be challenged. If this move is too difficult, you can modify it by holding onto a wall or a bench to help with balance. Be sure to engage your core. I love this move because once your baby arrives, you will be doing many row-like moves: taking the car seat out, lifting your baby from the crib, pulling out the stroller, and so on.
How to: Start in lunge position and hold the dumbbell with both hands just inside and below your front thigh. In one motion, pick the weight up to chest height and turn your body the other direction while lifting your hips up and reaching at a 45-degree angle as if you were placing the dumbbell on a high shelf. Pivot both feet while turning all the way around. From that position, come straight down to the opposite side and repeat the inside lunge on the other leg. Turn to put the weight up on the “shelf” that would be on the other side of your body. Continue to repeat, alternating sides.
Imagine reaching down to pick up your baby from the crib and lifting him/her up with excitement, or having to organize the toy room, from bending low to placing the item up high. This move is a compound move (which in daily life, most are) that works your core, biceps, shoulders, and legs.
The Move: Plank Shift Forward with Reach
How to: Start in plank position on your forearms. Lean forward on your arms so they reach a 45-degree angle at the elbow. Extend one arm forward. Make sure to keep your hips square to the ground, and don’t let one hip lift. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.
Just because you are pregnant, does not mean you should neglect your core strength.
The Move: Side Bridge Hip/Leg Lift
How to: Start by lying on your left hip with left knee bent and right leg bent on top while supporting yourself with your left forearm. Keep hips and knees stacked. Drive your hips up as you swing your right leg up parallel to the floor. You will feel this in your bottom glutes.
I love this move pre- and postnatal. It works your glutes and obliques and can be done anywhere. If it feels too easy, you can always make it more challenging by adding a resistance band above your knees.
How to: Start sitting in an S shape holding onto a medicine ball, dumbbell, or no weight. Lift your hips up, engaging the glutes. Pivot the right foot back to line up with the right knee. Bring your left foot up and around to stand up, leading on the left foot first. Lower back down, reversing the steps above. Without using your hands, switch the S shape of your legs to opposite leg in front. Repeat all steps above.
This move is one of my top mom-to-be exercises that you won’t really understand until you are sitting on the floor holding your baby and realize you need to get up. Get up with no extra hands to help you, and you’ll be conditioned to do so!
No matter what stage of life you’re in, this program can be tailored for you. Purchase and easily download the program at womenliftforlife.com.
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