7 Exercises For Your First Trimester Of Pregnancy
During my first pregnancy, I had a lot of questions on whether or not I could continue to workout. I was confused by the numerous contradicting “reports” I found online and the silly old wife’s tales like “don’t ever raise your arms above your head.” I soon found out (thanks to my doctor, incredible midwives, and certified trainers) that exercising while pregnant was not only acceptable but encouraged, as long as I was working out at the same or a lower intensity as I was pre-pregnancy. So I trained almost exactly as I did before becoming pregnant. I attended SoulCycle two to three times a week, I took Pilates classes and worked on the reformer twice a week, and I did three to four hours of yoga a week. I credit a smooth and quick labor and delivery to staying active during my first pregnancy.
This second pregnancy, however, has been completely different. I wouldn’t dare attempt an intense cycle class with the all-day nausea, headaches and body aches I’ve been experiencing. My schedule also isn’t as flexible as it was years ago. So, I’ve started to do more exercising at home. I’m listening very carefully to my body, taking things really slow and only doing exercises that I know well, from years of training with pros. I keep the intensity of my workouts low, only use light weights or my body weight, and I’m doing 10-15 reps, 1 or 2 sets maximum.
I’m hoping my energy level will get a boost soon but till then this simple routine is keeping my heart rate up and my body moving just fine. These exercises personally work for me, and you should always check with your doctor before performing any new exercise routine, especially during pregnancy. If you’re newly pregnant and don’t usually workout, you don’t want to start anything new now. If you’re unsure of what might work for you seek out a certified trainer with a prenatal fitness certification for guidance.
Here are seven at-home exercises I’ve been doing during my first-trimester pregnant.
FORWARD WALKING LUNGES
Get things started by firing up your body with this brisk cardiovascular walk. This exercise is excellent for hip mobility and overall functional strength. Focus on maintaining proper posture by drawing the belly button back to the spine and tucking your tailbone under.
Start with your feet close together, then step forward with one leg, keep the back heel off the floor while you lunge down. Lift the back leg and step straight into another lunge with the opposite leg. Continue to alternate sides, stepping into forward lunges while walking across a designated area.
Be mindful that your front knee doesn’t extend past your front foot. You can do this with or without light weights.
LATERAL BOSU BALL JUMPS
Great for getting your heart rate up and for working in some lateral leg movement.
Place one foot in the middle of the Bosu ball, keeping that ankle, knee, and thigh lined up. Position the leg that is on the ground close enough to the Bosu so that you can create a properly aligned squat. The objective is to squat low and then jump high and over. Pushing off of the leg that is on the Bosu — landing in a low squat with the opposite leg. Continue to alternate sides for one minute.
Take a 30 second break and repeat for an additional minute.
While lying on your back, bend your knees and place the heels of your feet a few inches away from your glutes on top of the Bosu ball. Firmly press your feet into the Bosu ball. Squeeze your glutes while you raise your hips off the mat, gently thrusting your pelvis to the sky until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. Hold for 3-5 seconds and then lower back down to your starting position. As your pregnancy progresses and as laying on your back becomes slightly more uncomfortable you may want to use two yoga blocks to elevate your shoulders a little. 10 reps, 2 sets.
WALL SQUATS WITH STABILITY BALL
Stand a few feet away from a wall, place a stability ball (also known as an exercise ball) between the wall and your back. Lean on the ball, lightly pressing it against the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your hips (or if you need help with balance, put your arms straight out in front of your body.) Engage your core and keep your back straight as you lower down into a squat position, rolling the ball along the wall. Go as low as you comfortably can (this will vary day to day.) Be sure that your knees don’t go over your toes. You should form a 90-degree angle with your squat; if you don’t, then you’re not far enough off the wall. Adjust.
Hold the squat for a few seconds then slowly roll the ball back up the wall to your starting position squeezing your thighs and glutes. Repeat. 12-15 reps. 2 sets.
KETTLEBELL LATERAL LUNGES WITH HIGH PULLS
Start by standing with feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart, holding onto the handle of a lightweight kettlebell (between 3 and 10 pounds) in both hands. Come into a lateral lunge by stepping your leg out to one side, while simultaneously lowering the kettlebell (on the same side).
Then pull the kettlebell up high to the shoulders, raising both elbows to the sky and stepping your leg back into your starting position. Alternate by stepping your other leg out and lowering the kettlebell on the opposite side. 12 reps. 1 set.
DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESSES WITH STABILITY BALL
This upper body exercise is excellent for overall shoulder strength. Incorporating the stability ball helps with coordination and balance. When pregnant, I prefer that my stability ball not be overly-inflated / too firm, this makes it easier for me to stabilize myself on the ball.
Hold your dumbbells just above your shoulders, shoulder-width apart. Palms are facing away from you. Your arms should create a 90-degree angle. Keep your shoulders back and your back straight. Firmly press your feet into the ground. Press the dumbbells straight up overhead. Straighten your arms completely (without locking them.) Bring the dumbbells back into the starting position and repeat. 10-12 reps. 2 sets.
BOSU BALL PLANK POSE
Some core exercises can cause more damage than good when pregnant. However, many women can safely use this exercise to maintain core strength during pregnancy. Keeping your abs strong can help alleviate the lower back pain that is often associated with pregnancy. The two most important things to remember are to maintain a neutral spine and to engage your deep core muscles from the beginning and throughout the exercise.
You’ll want to use a mat here. Get on all fours, place your wrists directly underneath your shoulders and your knees directly underneath your hips. Check your upper body positioning. You want nice straight supportive arms that are not stiff or locked. Extend one leg back, but keep your toes on the mat. Follow by extending the opposite leg and hold for 30-60 second intervals. Do 2 reps with a short rest in-between. You can preform this exercise with or without the Bosu ball but the Bosu ball helps increase strength and balance.
Remember to listen to your body if this feels too difficult you can do more sets at shorter amounts of time (5 to 10 seconds.) As you move into your second and third trimester, you may want to perform a modified plank by keeping your knees bent slightly or resting them entirely on the floor. If you know you currently have or have had diastasis recti (where the abdominal walls separate to accommodate for the expanding uterus), you should refrain from doing any planks.
YOU SHOULD STOP ANY EXERCISE IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING…
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular racing heartbeat
- Chest pains
- Muscle Cramps
- Uterine contractions
- Vaginal Bleeding
**Before beginning a prenatal exercise routine, speak to your physician about whether it’s safe for you to exercise.