Expanding hips and fat stores are part of the equation when it comes to a healthy pregnancy. Our bodies simply have to bring in reinforcements to support a growing baby in our womb for a full nine months -- and that's just the cooking part. Once we are ready to deliver that bun in the oven, our body has to allow space for that now fully developed infant to exit. Make way for those hips! (Don't worry, most of the time your hips will go back or close to your pre-pregnancy state). It is also important for our body to store up fat so we are able to adequately feed our little ones upon their arrival. All of this to say, I do empathize that it can be a hard reality to accept.
I will further warn you that you will not see the same results as you would working out pregnant verses working out when you are not pregnant. No matter how consistent I am, how hard I work, there is still going to be fat on my thighs and butt that would not be there if I were not pregnant. BUT you have to think down the road. Working out now, means not having to work as hard post-pregnancy to get your body back in shape. Your body will remember the hard work you have put in and it will reward you. That is why it is so important to not lose hope and to continue exercising throughout your pregnancy.
Since I have focused more on the butt and thigh area being a common complaint, I challenge you to make these 6 exercises part of your routine throughout the week.
1. Plie Dumbbell Squat
Plie squats are great for toning the quadriceps, butt and inner thighs. They can also be helpful in allowing the baby to move further down into the birth canal once you get further along into your pregnancy.
Start by holding a dumbbell (optional) at the base with both hands and stand straight up. Move your legs so that they are wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes are pointing out towards the corners of the room. Keeping your arms stationary the entire time, slowly bend the knees and lower your legs until your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible. Keep your back straight and abs engaged the entire time while you inhale to lower. Press through the heel of the foot to bring the body back to a starting position while exhaling. Note: Never allow your knees to go past your toes when bending down.
2. Curtsy Lunge
This is a great exercise for your inner and outer thighs, glutes (butt) and your core. To start, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold dumbbells in each hand (optional) by your sides. Shift your weight onto your right leg and extend your left leg one or two feet diagonally behind you to the right with your heel lifted. Bend your knees to a ninety-degree angle and then push off your back foot to return to the starting position and resume on the other side.
3. Opposite Arm, Opposite Leg Extensions
Begin on all fours with your torso parallel to the floor. Space your arms shoulder-width apart, the bend of your legs should create a 90-degree angle between the hamstrings and calves. As you exhale, lift up your right leg until it is parallel to the floor. Simultaneously, raise your left arm bringing it parallel to the floor. Contract your glutes throughout this process and hold the contraction for a few seconds before returning to your starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Note: Contract your abs throughout this entire exercise. Bring your belly button to your spine to avoid adding pressure to your lower back.
4. Medicine Ball Leg Curls
You will feel this exercise primarily in your hamstrings but also great for tightening the glutes. Begin on the floor laying flat on your back. Position the ball so that when your legs are extended your ankles are on top of the ball. Raise your hips off of the ground, keeping your weight on the shoulder blades and your feet. Flex the knees, pulling the ball as close to you as you can, contracting the hamstrings. Then return back to your starting position by extending your legs. Again, remember to always contract your abs while performing this exercise and breath! Exhale as you extend, inhale as you contract.
5. Single Leg Bridges
Start this exercise by lying on the floor with one knee bent, foot flat on the floor and the other leg extended straight out keeping knees at the same height. Now drive through the heel, extending your hip upward and raising your glutes off of the ground. Inhale, extending as far as possible, pause and then exhale as your return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
6. Single Leg Deadlift
Holding a dumbbell (optional) one hand, stand on one leg, on the same side that you are holding the dumbbell. Use a chair or wall to keep your balance with the other hand. Keeping that knee slightly bent, bend at the hip, extending your free leg behind you for balance. Continue lowering the dumbbell until you are parallel to the ground. Then return to the upright position. Note: It is extremely important that you keep your back straight the entire time and abs contracted as to avoid any added pressure on the lower back. Repeat on the other side.
Try incorporating these exercise a few days a week into your exercise routine from home or the gym and the results will pay off. If not now, they will later!
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER - All of the information on this site assumes that the mother-to-be is in good physical and mental health, and that her pregnancy is without risk factors or complications. Web site content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer medical advice, or replace the recommendations of your doctor, midwife, or physical therapist. Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.