In the 5 years I’ve been a personal trainer in NYC, I’ve had the pleasure of working with all different walks of life, and tackling all different types of specific goals from my clients. Working with pregnant women has been a very rewarding experience thus far.
As a guy, I can’t really relate to the feeling of being pregnant, but based off of the stories and feedback I’ve received from my clients (and hanging out with my sister in law), I can’t emphasize how important exercise during your pregnancy is.
You will boost your endorphins and immunity, sleep better at night, improve your posture, combat bloating and excess body, but most of all prepare you for the actual birthing process all through exercise!
Here are some exercises that would be suitable during your first trimester.
NOTES: Focus on slow rep speed for all exercises. The relaxin that’s released during pregnancy makes your joints much looser than when you’re not pregnant, and therefore your tendons and ligaments are slightly more susceptible to injury. This workout is designed to tone your muscles, not really increase your heart rate. Keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute, even lower if 140bpm seems too intense for you. Stay hydrated during your workout. Have a small meal before and after exercise.
Consult your physician before starting ANY exercise program, pregnant or not.
10 Arm Circles – Keeping your torso as tight, circle your arms 10 times to the front and 10 times backwards to warm up your rotator cuffs. All upper body exercises involve the shoulder joint, so this is very important.
30 Seconds Butt Kicks – Shift your weight to your left leg, and bend your right knee trying to touch your butt with your right heel. Alternate the heels to the butt to loosen up the knees for the lower body exercises.
30 Seconds High Knees – Placing your bodyweight on your left foot, raise your right knee up high trying to get the bottom of your thigh parallel to the floor. Reach the peak of your knee raise, and then lower the foot to the floor and switch legs. This will loosen up your hips and also slightly elevate your heart rate.
30 Seconds Twist and Turn – Standing with your feet underneath your hips, slowly twist at the torso left and right to loosen up your sides and lower back.
30 Seconds Half Moons – Bring your feet to touching side by side. Reach your arms up, glueing your biceps to your ears and interlacing your fingers together above your head. Bend your body laterally in a straight line to the left and right.
30 Kegels – In a seated position, squeeze your pelvic floor muscle. Hold the squeeze for a moment, and release. A kegel is basically the same muscle you contract when you are holding in your pee. You can even start doing this now as you continue to read and no one will even know!
20 Hip Raises – Laying on your back, keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees together. Push through the heels to roll your hips up towards the ceiling. Slowly lower your hips down to the mat, and as soon as your butt cheeks touch down, raise back up again. This warms up the butt as well as the front and backs of the thighs.
15 Ball Curls – Placing the heels of your feet in the center of the balance ball, roll your hips up towards the ceiling again. Your arms should be down by your sides for balance/support. Exhale as you bend your knees and curl the ball towards your butt. Bring the ball as close to your body as possible and inhale it back to it’s starting position keeping your hips elevated all throughout the set.
10 Push Ups – Carefully roll over onto your stomach, place your hands underneath your shoulders, bend your knees and keep your feet side by side behind you. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your body down to where your chest nearly touches the mat. Exhale as you push yourself back up again. Always exhale as you exert yourself!
30 Seconds Side Planks – Lay on your side with your legs extended, or if necessary, bend your knees for a modification. Prop yourself up on your bottom forearm and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your feet to your shoulders. Hold for 30, and control yourself back down to the mat. Hold for the same amount for the other side. The stronger your core is, the less likely you’ll have backaches during your next two trimesters.
10 Bent Over Rows – With your feet hip width apart, bend your knees, and hinge forward at the hip until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Let the arms hang before you bend your elbows, exhaling your arms upwards squeezing the shoulder blades together, then slowly lowering your arms down to a hanging position again. Only the arms are moving, the spine maintains it’s shape throughout the whole duration of this set.
10 Lunges – Stand with one leg forward and one leg back. Distribute your body weight over your front heel, with your back heel elevated for balance. Bend both of your knees, drop straight down, pushing through your front heel. Exhale yourself back up the standing. You can either place your hands by your sides, or hold on to light dumbbells for a more advanced lunging exercise.
10 Shoulder Presses (With lighter dumbbells than the Bent Over Rows) – Feet hip width apart, slight bend in the knees, holding your dumbbells next to your shoulders with your elbows bent, palms facing forward. Exhale as you press the dumbbells up and inhale them back down again to their starting position.
Seated Lat Pull Down – Grabbing the pull down bar with your palms facing forward, hands slightly wider than your shoulders, exhale the bar down to your chest, squeeze your shoulder blades, and then control the bar back to it’s starting position.
Do Two to 3 circuits of the exercises listed above and then go for a walk. The best time to do cardio is after resistance training and the reason is this: You burn up your carbohydrate storages during strength training, so that when you do cardiovascular exercise afterwards the only thing left to burn is body fat. Stick with steady state cardio/low impact exercise like walking for this. No running or “high impact” cardio like Hurdle Jumps or Snowboarding during pregnancy!
My name is Greg Sher, founder of I Kill Fat – Manhattan Vegan Personal Trainer. If you would have told the couch potato version of me 6 years ago that I’d specialize in resistance training, I probably would have been too deep in a food coma to laugh. I’ve been a personal trainer in NYC for the past 5 years, and my clients are the proud owners of ultra personalized exercise programs tailored to help them reach their fitness goals. I love incorporating traditional weight training with Pilates and yoga. Visit my website at ikillfat.com and contact me for a free session.