5 Pregnancy-Safe Workout Moves For The Mommy-To-Be

by Trina Remedios

We've given you the complete breakdown of exercise programs that are best-suited for each trimester (1, 2 and 3), and also handed you a 'Don'ts' list full of cautionary measures for the active mommy-to-be. 

If you feel a little overwhelmed by it all, here's a simple 5-move routine you can resort to without much thought. All of these moves are babyproof and pregnancy-safe; so long as your OB/GYN hasn't indicated you need to take it slow. Always remember, before taking on any workout routine during your pregnancy, it's advisable to run it by your doc. Once you're in the clear, here are some exercises we recommend you indulge in: 
1) Plié: Get into ballerina mode to prepare your body for delivery. This simple ballet move actually strengthens the quads, hamstring and glutes. A plié helps secure your lower body as it learns to stabilize and maintain balance with your new rounded belly. FitPregnancy.com notes that practicing pliés can reduce the risk of back pain, increase energy and help you get in shape quicker after delivery.
How To: Do A Plié

  • Stand with your feet at hip distance as you hold on to a sturdy chair or side bar with one arm.
  • Turn your toes to 45 degrees, away from each other.
  • Keep your back straight and lower your torso as much as you can by bending your knees.
  • Slowly stand up and repeat.

Things To Remember

  • Always maintain form and pace your reps slowly so that you do not pull a muscle.
  • If you get tired, your legs are shivering, or you feel like you can't maintain balance, stop!
  • Don't contract or stiffen up your muscles.
  • Always remember to take deep breaths.

2) Squats: A safe exercise for every trimester, squats help strengthen and stabilize the joints. The only cautionary note is that when you reach the third trimester, take it easy with the squats. Colleen Riddle, a certified pre- and post-natal exercise specialist and creator of the New Mommy Makeover has a safe variation to this exercise. "As the third trimester comes around, it’s important to watch how deep you do your squats. I recommend my clients put a stability ball behind their back for support when exercising." 
How To: Do Squats With The Stability Ball

  • Place the ball behind your back, pressed against the wall—this reduces the pressure on the body.
  • Stand erect with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing straight or slightly outward (whichever you're more comfortable with), shoulders back and chest out.
  • Stretch out your arms in front of you so that they are parallel to the ground, with your palms facing downwards.
  • Slowly move your hips back and downward as you bend your knees. For best results, let your butt sink lower than your knees, almost like you were sitting on a low-slung chair.
  • Push your body's weight to the heels, clench your butt, and use your core muscles to slowly come back up.

Things To Remember

  • Practice the correct form to avoid knee injuries; also, never lock your knees when you stand back up.
  • Take a 3 second pause before moving on to the next rep.

3) Planks: Your core has to bear the weight of your expanding belly so doing planks to strengthen your abdominal muscles, back muscles, and the muscles around your pelvis is a great idea. These are the areas that need to be kept strong right through the pregnancy. Believe it or not, planks are actually safer than exercises that have you lying on your back. According to JillianMichaels.com, planks are recommended because because they do not apply pressure on the growing baby while alleviating stress from the mommy-to-be's body.
How To: Do Planks

  • Get into a push-up position.
  • Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle and rest your weight on your forearms.
  • Your elbow should be directly beneath your shoulders and your body should be aligned from head to toe.
  • Hold the position for 20 seconds before you exit the pose, take a 3 second break and move on to the next rep.

 Things To Remember

  • Focus on breathing as it will help oxygenate your muscles. Inhale from your nose and exhale through your mouth.
  • Don’t hold the position for too long as it will strain your muscles; keep taking mini breaks by coming back on all fours.

4) One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: The exercise strengthens the spine and improves your posture. Also, lifting light free-weights can help work your biceps, lats, shoulders and core simultaneously. One-arm rows are a great way to burn excess weight while building your muscles.
How To: Do The One-Arm Row

  • Place the dumbbell on the floor; keep your right knee and right hand on the bench to support your body. Your back and hips should be in alignment.
  • Bend and grab the dumbbell off the floor with your left hand, and engage your core muscles to lift it up to your hip level.
  • Keep the elbow as close to your body as possible. Straighten out the arm without locking your elbow in a non-jerky movement.

Things To Remember

  • Pull the weight with your back muscles; don't just move your arm up and down.
  • Bring your chin to the chest so that your neck and spine are aligned.

5) Pelvic Tilt: Back pain is a common complaint among pregnant women in their third trimester. Pelvic tilts are a great move to include right through your pregnancy to help treat this problem by strengthening your back from the get-go. "Most of my clients experience extreme fatigue, discomfort, and back pain at this time," says Sarah Ann Kelly, the founder of MomTrainer.com. "Pelvic tilts not only strengthen your ever-so-important pelvic floor and prevent diastasis recti ("split abs"), they also help alleviate lower back pain; best part, you can do them stanging up or sitting down!"
How To: Do A Pelvic Tilt

  • Stand straight with your back to the wall. Elongate your spine.
  • Breathing in deeply, press the small of your back against the wall. This will automatically lead to your pelvis being pushed forward as the wall acts as a resistance.
  • Exhale and repeat. Continue the exercise for about five minutes.
Things To Remember
  • If you feel a strain in your back, it's a sign you may be over-stretching the muscles so regroup and hold the right form.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant women should spend 30 minutes a day exercising right through pregnancy, but also keenly listen to their body. Stop exercising if you experience dizziness, headache, chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, vaginal bleeding, leaking of fluid, or if the fetal movement decreases, or uterine contractions continue when you're resting. Also, steer clear of contact sports, hot yoga, and exercises that have you lying on your back like crunches, leg lifts and peddling. 

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