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After you’ve been cleared for exercise during your pregnancy, what’s the next step? There’s so much conflicting information out there from well-meaning relatives and friends, to the internet and social media. My advice is to listen to your body. If an exercise program doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to stop and find something that leaves you feeling energized and in control. Everyone and every pregnancy is different.
When deciding what exercise works for you, try focusing on improving posture, safely strengthening your core and increasing muscle endurance, all of which will prepare you for active labor and postpartum recovery. Below are my five favorite exercises to do while pregnant, all of which are safe to complete throughout each trimester as long as you have the “okay” from your doctor:
Stability ball hip thrusters: Sit on a stability ball, then roll yourself forward until just your head and upper back are resting on the ball. Form a tabletop with your body, maintaining a 90 degree bend in your knees. Inhale and lower your hips towards the ground, maintaining a straight spine. Exhale and squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips back up into the tabletop position. Repeat 12-15 times.
Resistance band pull-aparts: Stand tall, engage your abdominals by drawing your belly button in towards your spine. Grip a resistance band with both hands. Hold the band out in front of you with straight arms. Your hands should be at the same level as your shoulders. Keeping your arms straight, exhale and pull the band apart, pulling it towards your chest. Inhale as you return to your starting position. Repeat 12-15 times.
Pallof press: Loop a resistance band around an anchor point. Stand with one shoulder facing the anchor point. Grab both resistance band handles with both hands, holding them to your chest. Stand tall, engaging your abdominals. Exhale as you push your hands away from your chest, keeping them around shoulder level. Hold for 2 seconds. Inhale as you bring your hands back to your chest. You can adjust the difficulty by standing closer to or farther away from the anchor point. Repeat 10-12 times with each shoulder facing the anchor point.*
Standing resistance band rows: Loop a resistance band around an anchor point. Stand facing the achor point. Grab one resistance band handle in each hand. Stand tall, engaging your abdominals. Exhale as you squeeze your shoulder blades together, bending your elbows, and pulling the resistance band handles to your sides (just below your chest). Inhale as you return to your starting position.*
Squats: Inhale as your push your hips back, bending your knees to about 90 degrees. Exhale as you squeeze your glutes and stand back up to your starting position. Make sure your knees stay in line with your ankles and do not push forward past your toes. Use a mirror to check your form.
*Squats can be added to the resistance band pull-aparts, pallof press and standing resistance band rows. During each exercise, lower down into the squat as you inhale, and then stand up as you exhale.
Photo credit: Facebook
About Jeni Hartwick
Jeni Hartwick is a certified personal trainer, specializing in prenatal and postpartum fitness. She lives in Ferndale with her husband and son. As a new mom, Jeni loves coming up with ways to sneak in workouts and stay active with her family. jenihartwick.com