The workout starts with flexibility movements and then transfers into strength training exercises.
This workout, as well as our comprehensive pregnancy fitness guide, Expecting and Empowered, includes exercises to prevent common aches and pains throughout pregnancy, decrease unnecessary weight gain during pregnancy, ease labor and delivery, expedite postpartum recovery, and most importantly, keep the baby safe.
There are many incorrect, ineffective and unsafe ways to exercise during pregnancy. It can be frightening for mamas-to-be to wonder if they are harming the baby or themselves while exercising. This structured workout session and the week-by-week workouts from Expecting and Empowered alleviate this concern. It begins with the week of the positive pregnancy test all the way to week 40 and beyond. Each workout session only takes 30-45 minutes, and it removes all the guess work for women. Additionally, exercise has been proven to boost energy and mood during pregnancy!
WORKOUT (repeat the workout for 3 sets)
Part 1: FLEXIBILITY
- SL THORACIC ROTATION WITH ADDUCTOR ACTIVATION
SETUP: Start in a side lying position. Bend both knees toward chest.
MOVEMENT: Slowly lower your knees to the left side of your body. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale reach your right arm open until it makes contact with the ground behind you. Hold for 10 breaths. Repeat on other side.
PREGNANCY TIP: This is a great night time stretch!
- DOWNWARD DOG
SETUP: Start on all fours.
MOVEMENT: Move to an inverted V position with your elbows and knees straight. Get your heels as close to the ground as possible, shifting weight into your feet. Set your shoulders by pretending to rotate your hands outward through the ground. A good visual: pretend you are pushing your hands into the ground and rotating the whole arm outward like a screwdriver, but your hands stay in the same place. This should allow you to feel your shoulders turn on. Hold this position, feeling a stretch through your back and legs. Slowly inhale and exhale. Repeat for 10 breaths.
PREGNANCY TIP: Keep your neck relaxed (dangling). Keep your heels as close to the ground as possible.
- KEY HOLE ARM STRETCH
SETUP: Start on all fours. Left arm is bent bracing you upright while your right arm reaches under it and across your body. Right arm is lying flat on the mat with palm up.
MOVEMENT: Slowly lean forward, as you lean forward draw your right shoulder down toward the mat. At the same time push your right hand into the mat (as if you are following through a back- hand in tennis). Hold for 10 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat for assigned number of repetitions.
PREGNANCY TIP: You want to feel a stretch between your shoulder blade and spine.
- STANDING HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
SETUP: Start in an upright position. Place left leg behind you in lunge position and right leg on the ground with your knee bent.
MOVEMENT: Keeping your back straight, slowly shift your weight forward. You should feel a stretch in the front of left hip. Hold for 10 seconds. Switch legs. Repeat for assigned number of repetitions.
PREGNANCY TIP: If you tend to get round ligament pain, focus on stretching with breath.
Part 2: STRENGTH TRAINING
- ONE SIDE WEIGHTED SQUATS (DB) x 24 reps (12 with weight on one side, switch)
SETUP: Start in an upright position with your feet shoulder width apart. Place a DB on one shoulder, holding it in place.
MOVEMENT: Squat, bending at your knees and hips. At the bottom of the movement, your knees should be close to a 90-degree angle. Straighten your legs and squeeze your butt at the top of the movement. Repeat for assigned number of repetitions. Switch weight to other side.
PREGNANCY TIP: Make sure you tuck your tailbone underneath you so that your low back is not rounded.
- PLIE SQUAT (DB) x 24 reps
SETUP: Start in an upright position with feet in a wide stance, toes pointed outward. Hold onto one DB. Arms hang straight down in front of your body.
MOVEMENT: Squat, bending at your knees and hips. Exhale and squeeze your butt as you return to starting position. Keep your back straight, weight in heels, and do not allow your knees to collapse inward.
- TRICEPS EXTENSION (DB) x 15 reps
SETUP: Anchor the resistance band in the top of a doorway. Stand facing away from the door. Take a step out, so that the band is taut. Hold onto the RB with each hand. For DB version, hold onto the end of one DB behind your head with elbows bent.
MOVEMENT: Bend your elbows as you bring your hands near your forehead. Straighten your elbows, pulling against the RB. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat. For the DB version, straighten elbows.
PREGNANCY TIP: Exhale as you straighten your arms. Keep elbows and ribs from flaring out.
- WALL SIT x 60 second hold
SETUP: Find a stable wall. Sit in a squat with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Head, shoulders and butt should all be touching the wall.
MOVEMENT: Hold position and think about anchoring your feet into the ground.
PREGNANCY TIP: Do not arch your back on the wall. Do not rest your hands on your lap. Add weights to make harder if needed.
- BICEP CURLS (DB) x 15 reps
SETUP: Stand in an upright position, holding DBs in both hands. Start with arms downward with palms facing forward.
MOVEMENT: Bend your elbows, lifting DBs toward your shoulders. Pause at the top of the movement. Slowly lower. Repeat.
PREGNANCY TIP: Squeeze shoulder blades, pulling them down and back towards opposite butt cheek.
- BICEP CURL TO OVERHEAD PRESS (DB) x 15 reps
SETUP: Stand in an upright position, holding DBs in both hands.
MOVEMENT: Bend your elbows, lifting DBs toward your shoulders. Next, rotate hands so your wrists are facing forward. DBs are at shoulder height. Press the DB overhead. Slowly lower back down to starting position. Repeat.
PREGNANCY TIP: Do not shrug your shoulders during motion.
- FRONT RAISE AND LATERAL RAISES (DB) x 15 reps
SETUP: Start in an upright position. Hold a DB in each hand with arms hanging in front of you. Palms face you.
MOVEMENT: Keeping your arms straight, raise the DBs to shoulder height. Slowly lower to the starting position. Next, move the DBs to the side of your body with palms facing each other. Keeping your arms straight, raise DBs to the side until they are parallel with the ground and aligned with your shoulders. Repeat.
PREGNANCY TIP: Pull your shoulder blades toward one another during movement.
- BENT OVER ROWS (DB) x 15 reps
SETUP: Start in upright position, then hinge forward at the hips. Arms hang towards the floor with a DB in each hand, palms facing you.
MOVEMENT: Pull both arms upward, bending at your elbows. Bring the DBs toward your armpits. At end point of movement, elbows should be aligned with your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Slowly lower. Repeat.
PREGNANCY TIP: Keep your back straight as if someone were pulling the crown of your head (ponytail) upward. Retract your neck.
- BENT OVER REVERSE FLYS (DB) x 15 reps
SETUP: Start in an upright position, then hinge forward at the hips. Arms hang toward the floor with a DB in each hand.
MOVEMENT: Pull your arms apart and back until the DBs are aligned with your shoulders. Maintain a very slight bend in the elbows. Focus on elbow drawing toward opposite butt cheeks so you feel a squeeze between your shoulder blades. Caution: do not al- low your shoulders to draw upward towards the ears.
PREGNANCY TIP: Keep your back straight as if someone were pulling the crown of your head (ponytail) upward. Retract your neck. Lower the weight slowly down, fighting gravity
- RDL (DB) x 24 reps
SETUP: Begin in an upright position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and a DB in each hand. Keep a slight bend in your knees during the movement and keep your back in a straight line.
MOVEMENT: Lean forward, bending at your hips to reach down. Lower the DB down along the front of the thigh and shin. Next, lift back up to standing by engaging your back and thigh muscles. Repeat.
PREGNANCY TIP: You should not feel this in your lower back. You should feel it in your hamstrings.
- SIDE LYING LATERAL LEG RAISES x 30 reps each leg
SETUP: Start by lying on your side. Bend your bottom leg, but keep it on the floor. Your top leg is straight.
MOVEMENT: Slowly lift your upper leg toward the ceiling. Your top leg should only lift 6” from neutral. Do not lift it high! Lower it back to the starting position. Repeat for assigned number of repetitions. Switch to other leg.
PREGNANCY TIP: Keep your hip, knee, and ankle in one line. Do not allow your hips to roll backward or forward during the exercise. You should feel a deep burn in the hip.