It’s no secret that exercise can be a powerful tool to help you stay healthy (and happy!) during your pregnancy. Plus, it can be a huge help in preparing you for delivery day. “Ultimately, we are training for the major athletic feat of driving through labor and pushing out a baby,” says Cheri Paige Fogleman, Daily Burn 365 trainer who is certified in prenatal fitness through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. “Core strength, breath awareness, cardiovascular health and body awareness all play a role in labor.”
But as that baby bump gets bigger, it can be difficult to find exercises that are safe and doable. Fogleman says that many doctors recommend pregnant women stop laying flat on their back during the second trimester since the weight of the baby can compress an important vein (the inferior vena cava) in your back. And of course, you’ll want to stop laying directly on your belly (no more supermans!) since your bump will start getting in the way!
Your best bet for a fit pregnancy: “A feel-good, mobility-based workout that gets the blood flowing and the heart pumping,” says Fogleman. “I’ve found that my balance did shift every day,” she says, noting that regular exercise has made her more aware of her body, while improving her equilibrium, too. Since your body is getting heavier in the front, it’s important to focus on strengthening the your posterior chain (think: glutes, lower back and upper back) so you maintain good posture. These six moves demoed by Fogleman will help you stay energized through pregnancy — no equipment required.
5 Exercises for a Super Fit Pregnancy
1. Bird-Dog Variation
Targets: Upper middle back, lower back, glutes, shoulders and hamstrings
This exercise recruits your back muscles without requiring you to lay on your stomach. Inhale while on all fours and exhale as you lift your arms and legs outwards.
2. Standing Abs
Targets: Obliques and hips
You’ll get extra bang for your buck by doing this exercise standing, since it will require extra stability and core strength. Try to draw your belly button in and exhale as you lift your knee towards your elbow. (“Don’t worry, you aren’t crushing the baby!” says Fogleman.)
3. Wide Mountain Climbers
Targets: Abs, upper body, hips and quads
Give your bump room by performing slow and deliberate mountain climbers. Remember to breathe, says Fogleman. “Coordinate one exhale for every lift of your knee.”
4. Side Rotation
Targets: Obliques and upper body
Don’t stress about trying to lift your legs high, says Fogleman. Make sure your knees are drawn up towards your chest, and press your upper arm into the ground to help yourself hover your lower body above the floor. Roll your top shoulder down and away from your ear, so you keep your neck long.
5. Bench Push-Ups
Targets: Chest, shoulders, abs and quads
This modified push-up allows you to maintain strength without hitting your belly on the ground. Keep a long spine and roll the shoulders away form your ears, says Fogleman. “Think about pushing the bench away from under your armpits.”