Lisa Westlake provides these exercise options for pregnant class or gym participants. This article is a continuation from the article that appears in issue 4 of OH! Magazine, as it contains additional exercises that did not appear in the magazine itself.
Pregnant women who are feeling fit and well are naturally keen to continue (or maybe even commence) reaping the benefits of fitness workouts or classes.
Previously, we discussed several considerations for mums-to-be, who want to look after their baby and their body whilst exercising, such as prioritising your core and pelvic floor and avoiding high impact, straining activities and lying on your back after 16 weeks.
Following on from that article in issue 2 here are three safe and effective prenatal exercises you can incorporate in your classes or gym programs, as alternatives for moves that are less desirable during pregnancy.
Exercise 1. Table Tops
Ideal for: Back and core strengthening
Reps: 5 each side
Take the weight of your baby off your back while you strengthen your core, back and butt. This move is a great alternative to abdominal curls or exercises in the prone position.
Start position: Kneeling on all fours, with your hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Soften your elbows and draw your shoulder blades towards your tailbone. Elongate your spine and look at the floor to keep your neck in line with your spine.
Action: Engage your core abdominals to gently hug your baby towards your lower back. Raise and lengthen one arm. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then relax before repeating with the other arm.
Assuming you have no pelvic girdle pain you can progress this exercise to raising alternate legs (instead of arms), holding each straight leg at hip height for 3 to 5 breaths.
If you are able to maintain engaged core and pelvic floor muscles, and a straight and stable back, then your final progression is to raise one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously.
Technique tips: Keep your back and pelvis straight and stable, maintaining normal curvature throughout all movements.
Exercise 2. Wall Squats
Ideal for: Thigh and core strengthening
The wall squat is an excellent way to strengthen your thighs and core during pregnancy, and a perfect alternative to wide squats and lunges, especially if you are experiencing pregnancy-related pelvic pain.
Start position: Stand with a fitball between your lower back and the wall, feet hip width apart. Squat down into the seated position, then adjust your feet, so that your heels are under your knees and you can see your toes. Check the ball is supporting your pelvis and lower back at the lowest seated position and your spine is parallel to the wall.
Action: Engage your core and then, keeping your back straight and the weight pressed through your heels, slowly stand up and ‘sit’ back down.
- Your back should be vertical, do not lean forward or backward during the motion.
- To progress the exercise you can add hand weights and perform bicep curls while you stand and squat.
Exercise 3. Wall Push Ups
Ideal for: Tricep, pec and core strengthening
Wall push ups challenge your triceps, pecs and core but, because they work against gravity, they place less stress and load on your back and joints than a regular push up. Incorporating a fitball at the wall provides extra stabilisation through the all important shoulder girdle, spine and pelvic regions.
Start position: Stand holding the fitball at the wall, at chest height. Your hands should be positioned at shoulder height and shoulder width. Take a step backwards.
Action: Draw your shoulder blades downwards while you engage your deep abdominals. Keeping your back and hips straight, perform slow push ups towards and away from the wall.
- Keep your shoulder blades down.
- Do not bend at the hips or allow your back to sway.
- You should be able to see over the top of the ball.
Remember to be mindful of your pelvic floor during exercise, and always listen to your body.
Photos sourced from Lisa Westlake’s third book Exercising for Two, published by Hachette