The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Modifying the program If you’re dizzy or nauseated or feel pulling in your abdominals, hip flexors or pubic area, adjust the exercise accordingly or simply stop. As your pregnancy progresses, reduce the weights you use as needed.
Levels You’re a new exerciser if you have not strength trained for at least 3 months. You’re an experienced exerciser if you’ve been strength training at least twice a week for at least 3 months.
Weights New exercisers should start with the lightest weight recommended. Experienced exercisers should reduce their prepregnancy weights by 15 percent to start. Remember, pregnancy is a time for maintenance, not heavy training.
Sets and reps New exercisers should start with 1 set of 15–20 reps. To progress, add a second set of 8–12 reps, resting a minute between sets. Experienced exercisers should do 2 sets of 8–10 reps, resting 45–60 seconds between sets.
Abdominals Continue your regular ab program until about the fourth month; then switch to belly breathing: Either seated, lying on your left side or positioned on all fours, inhale, expanding your belly; then exhale, pulling your bellybutton in. Release and repeat 10–25 times, building up to 100 reps a day.
Kegels While sitting, standing or lying down, pull in the muscles of your pelvic floor (as if stopping yourself from urinating). Begin with 5–10 Kegels, holding each for 3 seconds; build up to 10 seconds. Do 5 sets of 10 reps each day.
Warm-up At the gym, walk for at least 10 minutes at low intensity on a treadmill, or use an upright or recumbent bicycle. At home, take a brisk walk, climb stairs or march in place. Then do upper-body exercises such as shoulder rolls and arm circles.
The exercises Do the exercises in the order shown. After each, stretch the muscles worked before moving on to the next. Hold each stretch 20–30 seconds without bouncing.
Cool-down Sit cross-legged or with the soles of your feet together. Relax in this position for at least 5 minutes.
1. Smith plié Adjust your body in the center of a Smith machine and grasp the bar with a wide overhand grip so the bar rests on the back of your shoulders. Keep feet slightly ahead of the bar (your body will be at a slight angle). Now separate your feet wider than hip-width into a plié: toes and knees turned out 45 degrees, legs straight but not locked. Tilt pelvis to a neutral position and squeeze shoulder blades together behind you [A]. Bend your knees, lowering torso as low as you can without changing pelvis alignment. Your tailbone should point toward floor and the bar should be directly over your