Here are five exercise I believe should be a part of every prenatal fitness routine. These exercises will help keep the core strong and the body ready for labor, delivery and beyond.
1. Glute bridge: Activation of the glutes is hugely important in prenatal exercise. Because of the
increased weight on the anterior side the glutes are a major counterbalance. Keeping them strong can prevent poor posture and back aches down the line. Additionally, they do a lot in supporting the pelvic floor!
How: With the pelvis in neutral position and feet aligned under knees, engage the inner thighs (adductors). On the exhale draw ribcage down, engage the glutes and initiating from core instead of the low back lift the hips off the ground. Inhale lower down.
2. Kneeling lunge with hip flexor focus: Not only does this help activate glute but it helps release the hip flexors therefore, releasing anterior tilt that can be associated with the growing belly.
How: From all fours, step one leg forward placing the ankle under the knee. Keep the back knee under the pelvis and bring the hands to the front knee. Inhale press hands into quad. Stack the ribs over the hips, turn the back foot under, and engage that glute. Drop rib on exhalation and somewhat neutralize low back.
3. Body weight squat: In addition to many of muscles of the legs being utilized, it is thought that repetitive squatting can assist during labor and delivery.
How: Stand with feet about hip width, toes pointing about ten and two. Place the hands in front or crossed at the chest. Flex through the hip and knee and drop down as far as possible with a tall chest (potentially dropping all the way down). Rise on the exhale.
4. Lateral band walk: Lateral band walks engage the gluteus medius, helping to stabilize the pelvis.
How: Place a resistance band somewhere between the ankles and knees. Begin with feet hip width apart and a soft bend in the knees. Take a step in one direction keeping tension through the band as you step apart. Repeat 15-20 steps in each direction.
5. Kneeling band rows: The pecs can become overworked and tight during pregnancy. Rows strengthen the back counteracting what’s happening in the front.
How: Begin with knees on the ground or low lunge position and spine in neutral (ribs over pelvis- although mine is off a bit in this picture). Slightly pack the chin and with the band anchored, pull back, with the elbows flaring about 30 degrees ending as the elbows just pass the body.
Reps ranges can lie anywhere between 5-15. However, if you are later in pregnancy heavier loads may be uncomfortable- drop the weight and increase the reps. Repeat for 3-5 sets.