The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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The program Do this routine in conjunction with an aerobic workout of at least 10–15 minutes in duration, 2–4 times a week. Augment with stretching and lower-back-strengthening exercises.
Warm-up and cool-down Do 5 minutes of basic stepping: Step onto platform with right foot, then left; step down with right foot, then left; change lead legs every minute with a foot tap. End warm-up with mild stretching, especially calves. Repeat for cool-down.
Sets and reps Do 16 reps for each of the step moves, in the order listed. Repeat, doing 8 reps. Each exercise takes 8 “counts,” listed in the captions. Once you get the hang of it, do them in any order you choose.
1. V-squat/calf raise Stand facing a step, feet together, hands on hips. Place right foot to one side on top of step, then left foot on other side so feet are hip-width apart in a “V” (counts 1, 2) [A]. Bend knees into a half-squat as if to sit in a chair (counts 3, 4) [B]. Straighten legs; step down on floor with right foot, then left, so feet are together. Then raise up on toes [C]. Lower heels; repeat.
Second trimester: Lower step to no higher than 4–6 inches (if legs are cramping, lose the calf raise).
Third trimester: Do without the calf raise. Strengthens quadriceps, inner thighs, outer thighs, buttocks and hamstrings.
2. Alternating knee-ups Face step, arms down. Step onto right corner of step with left foot, angling body toward corner (count 1) [A]. Lift right knee to slightly lower than hip height; pump arms naturally (count 2) [B]. Step back onto floor with right foot, then left, returning to starting position (counts 3, 4). Repeat at left corner with right foot. Alternate lifts, corner to corner.
Second trimester: Lower step to no more than 4–6 inches.
Third trimester: Change knee lift to a low kick. Strengthens quadriceps, buttocks and hamstrings.
3. L-step Face step, hands on hips. Step on middle of step with right foot; tap left toe next to right (counts 1, 2) [A]. Step sideways off step with left foot; tap right foot next to left (counts 3, 4) [B]. Step on middle of step with right foot (not shown); tap left foot next to right (counts 5, 6). Step off rear of step with left foot, then right; return to starting position. (counts 7, 8). Repeat, starting with left foot.
Second trimester: Lower step to 4–6 inches.
Third trimester: Move closer to end of step. Strengthens legs and aids coordination, lateral movement and balance.