So maybe easy pregnancy exercises are too easy and you don’t get much out of them. Hopefully, it’s because you’re already in shape and doing well.
So let’s take it up a notch. Here are some of the best pregnancy exercises to keep you strong.
Best Pregnancy Exercises Benefits
You already know the benefits of exercise, let alone when you’re pregnant or not. But the AWESOME thing about when you’re pregnant is that everything you do now will contribute to an easier birth. Plus your baby will be healthier too.
But a few things that you’ll notice about when you exercise can make a big difference.
- No back pain. Sure you’ll have little spurts here and there when your bones and ligaments are pushed around. But when your muscles are strong enough to hold them together, the added strain is lessened greatly.
- More energy. You may feel that you don’t have enough energy to exercise. Well honey, you have more energy than you think you do. And exercising will actually BOOST your energy levels and help you feel ten times better.
- Better sleep. This is true for anyone, pregnant or not. Our bodies can rest so much better when we’ve actively engaged them during the day.
- Less pelvic pain. You don’t have those sudden shooting pains and cramps that can cause you to just cringe and waddle to the bathroom to let some urine out for relief.
- Stronger squats. You’ll be able to move around better, pick things up and just take care of life easier because your legs are SO much stronger. No more falling over or hurting your back because you’ve incorporated squatting habits in your everyday life.
- Breathe better. Your lungs are more able to process oxygen for your body because you force them to expand and adapt to your exercise lifestyle. So you won’t have gasping moments as often when you walk up those flights of stairs.
- Easier labor and delivery. When you’re body is stronger, it can climb the mountain of its baby marathon without dragging you along through the dirt. Instead, you can climb right along with it and enjoy the view once the peak is reached. There’s a fascinating thing that happens to your brain also to cause pain relief.
- Maintain healthier weight. You won’t have to worry about other problems like obesity risks for your child. It will also be easier to lose your baby weight after your birth, always a plus.
So what can you do to get all of these benefits right now? Change up your routine to add in these exercises so that you increasing your strength and not stagnating with something your body can already handle just fine.
This is taking your basic squat up a notch and you’ll feel right away all of the muscle engagement that you didn’t have before. You can incorporate your kegels into these. There are also a few different variations and positions you can do to make them more difficult or not.
Once your belly gets big, doing these instead of a traditional squat will be easier and you won’t feel as compressed in the middle.
- Stand with your feet about two or 2.5 feet apart with your toes turned outward.
- Hold a weight, exercise ball, or kettle bell at your chest underneath your chin.
- Lower into your squat while keeping your back straight. You can lower to two different levels:
- Easier – Go all the way down to nearly touching the floor with your bum. Use your elbows to press the inside of your knees outward for better balance.
- Harder – Only go about half way down so that your quads are level with the floor.
- Hold your squat for a few moments, taking deep breaths.
- Breathe in deep without exhaling.
- Then contract and tighten your kegels, legs, and upper body. (It’s easier to contract your kegels with the Harder version.)
- Rise up out of your squat, keeping your back straight the entire time.
- Exhale as you come up.
(Sorry some of my images are a little blurry. Camera had a hard time focusing before I could beat the timer.)
Taking in deep breaths when you’re lowered helps stabilize your muscles and makes them work together better for bring you back up.
You may find that it’s actually easier to the Harder version of these squats when it comes to how flexible you are. The Harder and Easier refers to how much effort your muscles have to exert in order to do the squat in the first place. But when you’re more flexible, you’ll be able to sink all the way to the floor without much thought at all.
Work both options until you’re able to squat all the way down to the floor and hold there for a few minutes. You don’t have to have much weight at all either. Don’t expect to grab a 20-pound bell and be able to do 20 reps with it right off. Even just a 5-pound weight will make a big difference.
Another tip: eventually master these barefoot instead of with shoes. If you intend on squatting sometime during your pushing and birth, I doubt you’re going to be wearing your best running shoes. Your balance is a little different when you don’t have shoes on and you’ll want to be prepared to feel the difference.
Try this at home holding your toddler. Then ask your husband to do it–betcha he’ll fall over. 🙂
When you can do these daily, say up to 50 squats with breaks in between the reps, you’ll be amazed at how strong you find you’re able to hold yourself up.
These are an extension of doing pelvic tilts from a different angle. Though I still recommend doing a full round of pelvic tilts from your easier pregnancy exercises, these will add greater muscles strength from your butt and thighs than your lower back.
- Lay down on the floor with your knees propped up vertically.
- Place your arms and palms flat against the floor alongside your body.
- Pressing in the floor with your feet and upper back, raise your pelvis upwards as high as you can.
- Hold it there for a few seconds, squeezing your butt and pelvic muscles to hold yourself there.
- Then gently lower to the floor to rest. Then repeat until you feel a burning in your butt.
It’s helpful to relax your shoulders, neck and arms as much as possible when you do these so that your core takes all of the weight. Go slowly if you’re not used to laying on your back very much.
Yes, you CAN run when you’re pregnant. When you keep your core strengthened, you don’t have to worry about everything bouncing around and banging all your innards out of place.
If you didn’t run much before you pregnancy, this may be a little too much for you. But even I find that walking just isn’t enough a lot of the time.
Your pace will be much slower and the distance you’re able to go likely will shrink. But that’s okay because you’re looking for getting your heart rate up and the movement, not the speed.
Honestly, 10-15 minutes is enough. Don’t expect the need to go for really long lengths of time if you’re just not feeling it. It will still be a big benefit, even for just ten minutes.
Go slow, wear appropriate clothing, and go when it’s cool so you’re not overheated. You’ll turn heads doing it. 🙂
If you find it isn’t enjoyable, move to the elliptical machine instead.
This requires an exercise ball that’s been deflated a bit. I haven’t tried it with a peanut ball, but it may work okay with it if you have one.
- Laying flat on your back and knees propped up, place the ball between your thighs as low as it can go.
- Lifting your feet up off the floor, squeeze the ball with your thighs and hold it in place for a few seconds.
You can do as many reps with this as you like. I find that just 10 squeezes get my thighs and groin burning easily.
Relax your upper body, arms and abs while you do this so that all of your efforts are concentrated on your inner thighs. Doing these will increase your ability to do your squats more effectively. Plus your pelvic floor muscles will be better supported from the inside, rather than just the outside.
Elbow planks are great for when you’re recovering post pregnancy. But right now, your belly may be really big and just touching the floor when you’re supported by your forearms.
This way allows your entire body to still be engaged with plenty of room for your belly to hang.
- Start on your hands and knees.
- Prop yourself up on your palms so that your arms are straight and 90 degrees from the floor. Move your feet back or forward as needed to achieve this angle.
- Prop your feet up on your toes about a foot apart, whatever is comfortable. Your legs don’t have to be very wide at all.
- Keep your body straight as much as possible, holding every muscle needed to keep you upright.
- Turn your hands outward just a little and squeeze back into your shoulders like you’re trying to hold a piece of paper up with your armpits.
- Then to further engage your muscles, arch your upper back just a little bit so you feel your entire core work harder.
- Hold this for up to 20 seconds.
The great thing about planks is that you’re working nearly every muscle in your body, especially through your core. When your core is strong, it can support your pregnancy belly so much better that you don’t have all the aches and pains associated with a weak center.
Don’t worry about doing many of these, one after the other. You can work in just two or three throughout your entire exercise routine.
Ah! Don’t you feel great now? You probably feel tired already just reading about it. 🙂 Now you can move onto stretching out those muscles so they don’t stay tight.
If you’re still having back pain after maintaining a good routine with these exercises, you may be able to get a little more support with a belly band.
And you don’t have to do every single one of these every day. You can change it up. Jog one day with some squats. Then do some yoga and all the others the next. It’s up to you how you feel and what works best for you. I never do the same exact thing two days in a row; keeps it fresh and more enjoyable.
What exercising works well for you mommies out there?