Exercise helps to manage both the physical and emotional symptoms of pregnancy. Follow my step-by-step guide for a healthy happy mum and bub.
You can begin this program on its own or as a complement to your regular strengthening and cardiovascular routines. Make sure you take a 30 to 60 sec rest in between each set. At the end of your workout, take an extra 5 to 10 minutes to relax in a comfortable position.
These exercises will help you carry extra weight throughout pregnancy and increase strength for labour.
Step Ups:(Targets glutes and thighs)
Stand with feet hip width apart in front of a flat bench, torso straight and head up. Step up onto the bench (making sure your foot is not hanging off the edge), then bring the second leg from the ground straight up to waist height with a bent knee at 90 degrees. Return to your starting position, repeat five times then swap the leading leg.
Build up to 15 reps on each leg as your fitness increases. Aim for 2-3 sets.
Leg Lifts: (Targets glutes)
Start in a table top position then bend one leg to 90 degrees with foot flexed. Switch on glutes and core and lift bent leg so the base of the foot reaches towards the ceiling. Pulse for 8-15 reps then lower leg and repeat on other side. Make sure you pull bellybutton to spine, abs in tight, squeeze the glutes and keep shoulders and head in line with the body. Aim for 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps each leg.
Tip: This exercise can also be done with the leg lifting out to the side with bent knee.
Medicine Ball Squat: (Targets glutes, thighs and arms)
Stand with feet hip width apart, arms out straight holding medicine ball. Bend knees into a deep squat (remember don’t let knees travel over toes!) and raise the ball above your head. Return to starting position after a short pause. Squeeze your glutes, draw pelvic floor up and keep upper body straight throughout. Start with 2 sets of 10 reps.
Strengthen to assist with lifting and holding baby and support a heavier bust.
Lat Pull Down: (Targets lats, broadest muscle of the back)
Hold a resistance band above the head with arms slightly wider than shoulder width apart and good resistance on the band. Squeeze the shoulder blades together, pull and stretch band down behind the head in line with the neck. Keep elbows at 90 degrees then release. Start with 2 sets of 10-12 reps.
Deltoid Fly: (Targets shoulders)
Sit on fitball with feet together or hip width apart for added balance. Keep back straight or angle torso at 45 degrees, head up and draw belly button to spine. Holding dumbbells by your side raise them to shoulder height with a slight bend in the elbows. Squeeze the shoulder blades together when raising the arms, then return to starting position. Remembering to keep the neck relaxed. Start with 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Wall Push-up: (Targets Chest)
Place hands on wall slightly more than shoulder width apart and inline with the ears. Feet back so body is in a plank, abs in, straight back – NO SWAY BACK – tuck your but under, hips facing forward. Bring your chest down to almost touching the wall then push back up. Do 2 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Standing Row: (Targets lower back)
Wrap band around a stable object, ie tree, banister, pole. Holding onto the handles with arms out straight, walk back until you have a lot of resistance on the band. Feet parallel and hip width apart, come down into a gentle squat (don’t let knees travel over toes) and tuck the butt under. Belly button to spine and shoulders down, squeeze shoulder blades together as you pull the handles towards you in a rowing motion. Stop at the point where your arms are bent at 90 degrees and keep elbows in next to the body, then release. Start with 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Bicep Curl: (Targets upper arms)
Sit on a fitball or stand in squat or staggered stance. Draw belly button to spine with straight back. Start with straight arms beside the body then bend the elbows bringing the hand weight/s in line with the shoulder. This can be done with alternating arms of both together. Make sure you keep elbows in next to the torso the entire time. Aim for 2 sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Strengthening your abs and pelvic floor today, will assist in achieving an easier delivery and quicker post delivery recovery.
Table Balance: (Targets back, core and balance)
Start on your hands and knees in table top position. Bellybutton to spine, abs in tight, squeeze the glutes and keep shoulders and head in line with the body. Lift and straighten one leg and opposite arm – making sure not to tilt the hips. Hold for 10 seconds then swap. Start with 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Plank: (Targets Core)
Kneeling on a mat position yourself with forearms on the floor in line with your shoulders, arms bent at 90 degrees. Feet hip width apart, raise knees to straighten your legs so just toes are on the floor. Balancing on forearms and toes, shoulders are back and head in line with your torso. Pull bellybutton to spine and squeeze your glutes – DO NOT LET THE LOWER BACK DIP OR BUTT RAISE! Keep a nice straight line. Start holding for 10 seconds, then relax and repeat. Gradually work up to 45 second holds if comfortable.
Bub & Beyond Fitness founder, Samantha Docherty was the antenatal fitness advisor for this story in the March/April issue of Pregnancy & Birth.
Please consult your physician before starting any pre or post natal training.