The Few, The Mighty
Shelton’s workout program starts with just four multi-muscle moves that you can do throughout your pregnancy. These exercises work your legs, abs, upper back, arms and shoulders. Cardio work is also important, and tips for fitting it in are included.
For the postpartum weeks, Shelton offers six different moves to tone your body and recondition stressed muscles. You’ll work your legs, arms, middle and back, tighten up your abs and pelvic-floor muscles, and pump up your “lifting” muscles so you can hold and feed that new baby.
“There are only a few exercises in this program, but they make the most of your time,” says Shelton. “It’s a little bit of effort for a lot of results.”
Do the following 4 exercises in the order listed 3 days a week on alternating days. As your pregnancy progresses, you may want to use lighter weights if you experience discomfort.
Sets and reps: On days when you’re feeling tired, do 1–2 sets of 10–12 reps for each exercise; when you’re feeling more energetic, do 2–3 sets of 10–12 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets. When using less weight, increase reps to 15.
1. SQUAT COMBO Stand facing the back of a chair with feet hip-width apart, legs straight but not locked. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging by your sides, palms facing in. Sitting back on your heels, bend both knees, lowering hips toward the floor no lower than 90 degrees (A). Contract your buttocks and return to standing position. Immediately step backward with left foot, bending both knees into a lunge position, keeping front knee in line with ankle, back heel lifted and torso straight (B). Straighten both legs and step forward to starting position. Continue to squat, alternating legs for lunges. After the last lunge, stay in a squat position. Put weights down and hold back of chair. Keeping feet flat on floor, sit back on heels and squat down to the floor so hips are close to heels (C). Stay in this birthing-squat position for 30 seconds, building up to 3 minutes.
Weights: 5–10 pounds in each hand. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks; opens hips; relaxes pelvic floor.
Option: As your belly grows, stop using weights and hold the back of the chair for support.
2. ROW-AND-PRESS COMBO Sit on the edge of a chair, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging by your sides with palms in, bend forward from your hips so your chest approaches your knees (use a pillow on your thighs after 7 months). With arms in line with your shoulders, back straight and shoulder blades squeezed together, bend elbows back toward your waist (A). Keep weights in this position as you sit up and bring arms up in front of you, still bent (B), then straighten arms overhead (C). Lower arms until elbows are close by your sides, bend forward and repeat combo.
Weights: 3–8 pounds in each hand. Strengthens upper and middle back, shoulders and biceps.