What’s the best way to make sure you get your nice, safe prenatal workout in, as you know you should? Get rid of the obstacles! When the sun is shining and the weather is warm, it’s easy to head outdoors for exercise. But when the elements, schedules and tummy aren’t as cooperative, all sorts of excuses can get in your way, especially if you’ve never been a gym person. We’ve got the answer: a workout you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Created by Elizabeth Trindade, president of Strollercise Inc. in New York City, this routine is based on her Preparing to Push prenatal-workout program. The exercises will help you stay strong now and regain your shape faster after giving birth.
For best results, do the workout every other day, in addition to 20 minutes or more of cardiovascular activity at least 3 days a week (see “Get Off the Couch!” opposite page). But check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. As Trindade says: “A healthy mother and a healthy baby are what’s most important.”
1. Cat’s Cradle Kneel in front of your couch, place your elbows on a seat cushion and put your palms together in prayer position. Inhale, dropping your shoulders and lengthening your tailbone behind you [A]. Exhale and round your spine, drawing your abdominal muscles in and up [B]. Repeat 8 times. Relieves back stress, helps prevent diastasis, strengthens abdominal muscles and eases the pressure of the baby on your pelvis.
2. Couch Get-Up Sit at the edge of the couch with your feet flat on the floor and your legs wide enough apart to accommodate your belly. Lean back so that your upper back is supported by the back of the couch [A]. Inhale, then exhale and use your abs to sit up erect; then, without using your hands, use your legs to stand up into a squat [B]. Sit and return to starting position. Repeat 8 times. Strengthens legs, hips, buttocks, abs and back.
3. Prenatal Picnic Sit on the floor on your right hip, with knees bent and pointing to the right. Place your left hand on top of your left ankle, with your right hand on right knee. Lean your torso to the left and look down toward your legs. Hold this stretch for 30–60 seconds, breathing deeply. Switch legs and repeat, completing 9 reps (a stretch to both sides equals 1 rep). Stretches entire back and sides of torso.
4. Pillow Port de Bras Stand tall with your feet wider than hip-width apart, abs drawn in and knees slightly bent. Hold a firm pillow in front of your chest with both hands, arms straight [A]. Extend both arms to the left, then up and overhead, making an arc like a rainbow [B]. Bring your arms down to your right side, then back in front of your chest. Repeat, moving in the opposite direction. Complete 9 repetitions (1 arc in each direction equals 1 rep). Strengthens back and shoulder muscles and stretches chest.
5) Expression Stand with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart, feet and knees turned out comfortably, hands on your belly [A]. Inhale as you bend your knees, lowering your hips and reaching your fingertips toward the floor. Keep your back straight and your abs and pelvic floor drawn in [B]. Exhale, straighten your legs and return to starting position. Repeat 8 times. Strengthens hips, thighs and buttocks.
6) Cleo’s Lift Lie on the couch on your left side with your left arm bent and your head resting on it. Bend your left knee. Lower the toes of your right foot toward the floor, keeping leg straight [A]. Hold and stretch for 15 seconds, then lift that leg to a 45-degree angle [B]. Return to starting position. Complete 9 reps before switching sides. Helps ease pregnancy-induced sciatica, stretches hip rotators and strengthens hips and upper buttocks.