I am often asked what exercises are the best ones to do during pregnancy so when I put this short video series together for Pregfit, I didn’t just want to include ‘any old’ exercises. I want to show you exercises that have many benefits for both you and your baby.
Strength exercises can often be over-looked during pregnancy in favour of low-impact cardio exercise such as walking. Yes cardio exercise has many benefits but strength exercises are crucial if you want to prevent muscular aches and pains and prepare properly for birth.
Performing strength exercises during pregnancy will also offer a cardio-vascular advantage due to your higher heart-rate ultimately ‘killing two birds with one stone’ so to speak.
In the first series, the 3 exercises I have chosen concentrate on strengthening your gluteus maximus muscle, that’s your butt.
The exercises targeting this area are:-
1 Hip Bridge
3 Kick Back
You can do the lunge and kick-back during your entire pregnancy and hip bridges until approx. 25 weeks depending on how you are carrying. If any of the exercises feel uncomfortable check your technique and ‘Listen to your body’ if it doesn’t feel right for you then stop with that exercise and move on to an alternative one.
Pregnancy Exercise 1 – Hip Bridge
Pregnancy Exercise 2 – Lunge
Pregnancy Exercise 3 – Kick Back
Why is Strengthening your ‘Glutes’ so important?
Well It has many benefits here are 3:-
1: Decreases hip and lower back pain
2: Strengthens the pelvic floor muscles by holding your pelvis in an anterior position
3: Increases lower body strength and endurance so you can hold better suited birthing positions, the ones that allow gravity to assist baby descending!
Oh and the BIG Extra bonus- you will have a great looking behind too!
1: Why does strengthening the glute muscles decrease pain?
Basically lower back and hip pain often referred to as SPD* in pregnancy is generally caused by weak glutes and an imbalance of muscles in our hips. By strengthening the muscles correctly with exercise it will reduce discomfort and pain. Read about this in more detail: http://positivelypregnant-mummytrainer.blogspot.co.nz/2011/06/are-you-suffering-from-hip-and-lower.html
2: If you are exercising during your pregnancy you don’t need to do extra pelvic floor muscle exercises. You are exercising your pelvic floor muscles subconsciously whilst you are exercising you don’t want to over-train them! Squats and lunges are 2 of the best exercises you can do to strengthen the Pelvic floor muscles as they strengthen your glutes, correctly preparing you for birth: Read more on Pelvic Floor muscle Exercise- http://positivelypregnant-mummytrainer.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/no-more-kegels-during-pregnancy.html
3: Labour and birth signal the end of your Pregnancy…it’s going to happen and when it does you want to be prepared. If you are fit and strong you are able to cope better with different scenarios, longer births and interventions if needed. By increasing leg strength and performing exercises that closely mirror labour and birthing positions did you know you could reduce your labour time by 90minutes!
Upper Body Strength Exercises
The 2nd series of 3 exercises concentrates on increasing upper body and core strength.
1: Side Plank Push Up – Strengthens Oblique Muscles
2: Wall Press Up- Strengthens Upper body and Core Muscles
3: Tricep Dip- Strengthens Upper body muscles
I would suggest you use the side plank push up until you are approx. 16-20 weeks.
The Wall Press Up and Tricep dip can be done during your entire pregnancy. You just need to stand closer in to the wall as your pregnancy progresses with the Wall Press Up
Pregnancy Exercise 4 – Side Plank Push Up
Pregnancy Exercise 5 – Wall Press Up
Pregnancy Exercise 6 – Tricep Dip
Upper body strength during Pregnancy can be overlooked. It is however vital for:-
1 Good pregnancy Posture
2 help to decrease upper body aches and pains
3 Strengthens upper body muscles helping mum to ultimately hold strong labour poses and push baby out!
1: Your Posture: Good pregnancy posture will ultimately reduce aches and pains, give your baby more room to grow and move and allow you to carry your baby bump more efficiently your pregnancy won’t be as challenging and stressful: Pregnancy Posture http://positivelypregnant-mummytrainer.blogspot.co.nz/2011/12/importance-of-good-posture-during.html
2: If you strengthen weak postural muscles in your upper body it can help reduce neck and shoulder tension, improving upper body posture reducing round shoulders and forward head posture.
3: You don’t just need your leg muscles to hold better suited birthing positions you need your arms too especially if you are hanging off bed posts, chairs and bars etc. Upper body strength is also definitely needed to help you push baby out!
If you have any questions about the exercises in this video series please don’t hesitate to ask, leave a comment or email me. If you want a specific Pre or Post Natal exercise and health program visit my website http://pregnancyexercise.co.nz Programs available in Australia.
*SPD- Symphysis pubis dysfunction http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphysis_pubis_dysfunction
If you feel any pain or discomfort whilst exercising, stop. If pain continues consult you L.M.C or G.P. The information included in this article has been written by Lorraine Scopes: She is not able to provide you with medical advice the information is used as guidelines. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training. Lorraine has 20 years’ experience training pregnant and post natal women, a personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist and owner of:http://pregnancyexercise.co.nz contact email: Lorraine@pregnancyexercise.co.nz