Being pregnant is an amazing experience, but it comes with a million questions -- almost always about what you can and cannot do while pregnant. No answer is ever black and white, as every woman and every pregnancy is so entirely different. But after 10 years working in the fitness industry and training countless women during and after pregnancy, I have found that while we all have our own unique experiences, many of the aches and discomforts that come along with pregnancy are pretty consistent. Luckily, working out can do wonders: from alleviating back pain to revving up your energy and, post-delivery, a faster return to your pre-baby silhouette.
I recommend investing in a heart rate monitor, especially if you are pregnant. It’s not a must, but it’s a fantastic way to track how your body is responding to the type of exercises you are doing, letting you know if you need to make modifications as your pregnancy progresses. Also remember to consult with your doctor before beginning any fitness routine during your pregnancy. The intensity at which you can work out will depend on pre-pregnancy fitness level.
Here are 9 pregnancy exercises that will keep you fit, healthy and comfortable during and after pregnancy.
- Start on all fours and slowly extend one arm, opposite leg out strong and straight and in line with your body. Hold for 3-5 seconds, return to your starting position and repeat on the other side. Repeat x20.
- Start on your elbows and knees, with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Extend your right leg out straight behind you and lift it up toward the ceiling. Slowly, tap your right foot as far over to the right as you can, keeping your leg strong and straight.
- Lift your right leg back up towards the ceiling, and then tap as far to the left as you can. Alternate sides, x30 each leg.
Side Lying Leg Lifts:
- Lie on your side with your legs out straight at a 45-degree angle, hips stacked and feet flexed. Keep your head propped up with your bottom hand on and place your other hand in front of your body for support.
- Lift your top leg up a few inches higher than your hip and then almost all the way back down. Repeat x25 singles, x25 pulses 2-3 times.
Downward Dog/ High Plank Flow:
- Start on your hands and knees, with your hands a few inches in front of your shoulders. Tuck your toes and bring your body into your DD (the shape of an “A”). Relax and hold this position for 5 seconds and slowly shift your body into a high plank. In your plank, your hands should be directly under your shoulders, your body in a straight line from your head to your toes with your legs active and engaged.
- If you are in your first trimester, you can hold your plank for up to 30 seconds before shifting back into your downward dog. As your pregnancy advances, you can decrease the amount of time you hold your high plank as you please. Continue this flow x10.
Straight Arm Triceps Kickbacks:
- Start on your hands and knees and grab your desired weight - anything from 2-5 lbs. (beginners can even start just using a water bottle). Bring your left arm back straight, palm facing in, with the weight rested on the mat.
- Extend your opposite leg out straight, lifting it up so it is in line with your body. Maintain this position throughout the exercise as you lift your straight arm up slightly above your torso and almost all the way and down. Repeat x20 singles x10 pulses each arm.
- Lying on your side, lengthen your bottom leg out straight in line with your body and bend your top leg in front of you at hip height at a 90-degree angle. Rest your top knee on the floor or, as your belly grows, it may be more comfortable on a yoga block or foam roller.
- Lift your bottom leg up as much as you can while maintaining proper form. Return almost all the way back down to the floor. Repeat x25 singles, x25 pulses 2-3 times each leg.
- Kneel on the floor with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders and keep your body in a straight line from your head to your knees.
- Place your feet on the floor or in the air and slowly bend your elbows out to the side, lowering your torso towards the floor. Exhale and push back up to your starting position x15.
Single Leg Dead Lift:
- Stand on one leg (slightly bent) and hinge forward as you extend your other leg back straight behind you. Keeping your back straight, reach your opposite hand towards the floor until your body forms the letter T.
- Come back up to your standing position by raising your torso while simultaneously lowering lifted leg. x15
Assisted Back Lunge Split:
- Start with your right hand on a chair or using a body bar for support. Take a big step back with your right leg and immediately bend both knees so that your front (left) leg is parallel to the floor and your right knee is bent a few inches away from the floor.
- Briefly hold and slowly straighten both legs pushing up from your front heel. Bend back into your lunge from this position and repeat x15-20 on each leg.
Brooke Marrone, President & Founder of Brooke Marrone Fitness, launched her highly regarded private training business in 2008. Training everyone from top executives to doctors, mothers to celebrities, Brooke is one of the most sought-after personal trainers in New York City.