2. Cat Lean with your hands on a counter top (or kneel with your hands and knees on floor), legs apart, back and arms straight. Take a few steps back from the counter and, keeping chest lifted and knees slightly bent, lean forward from hips [A]. Inhale; then exhale, rounding your back like a cat [B]. Hold position for a few seconds; then reverse the action. Inhale and try to expand chest by pulling shoulder blades back, keeping lower back neutral (with a small arch). Repeat 3 times.
Body strengthening for home or gym
These strengthening exercises will help you maintain muscle tone and improve the endurance needed to carry your growing baby. If you’ve been doing weighted resistance work, start with dumbbells of the weight you’re accustomed to. If not, start with no weight or use filled water bottles to master the form; then progress from 3 to 8 pounds over a course of several months.
1. Carryall Stand with feet hip-width apart, legs straight but not locked. Hold weights in front of you with elbows bent close to waist, palms facing in and forearms parallel. Squeeze shoulders back 8–12 times. Inhale as you squeeze and exhale as you release to a neutral posture. Improves upper-back strength, shoulders and biceps.
2. Benders Standing with feet hip-width apart, hold arms and weights in the same “carrying” position as Exercise #1. Bend knees slightly and lean forward from hips while maintaining a straight spine. Straighten knees and hips to bring your back to an upright posture. Repeat 8–12 times. Note: Only your knees and hips should move. If this bothers your lower back (especially in the last trimester), use a wider stance and rest your weights at the top of your thighs. Strengthens lower back, hips and legs.
3. Recline abs Sitting on the edge of a chair or bench, hold 1 weight on your chest with both hands; lean back slightly (1 or 2 inches) with a straight spine, contracting abdominals and keeping breastbone lifted. Hold for 3 breaths. Release by sitting up tall. Repeat 2 times. Strengthens abs and improves posture.
4. Stationsary lunges Stand with feet hip-width apart, left foot in front of right with right heel lifted. Hold weights in hands with arms crossed over chest. Bend both knees, keeping left knee in line with left ankle and back knee pointing toward floor. Straighten both legs to starting position. Do 8–12 reps, switch legs and repeat. Note: If you have problems balancing, hold a support with 1 hand and 1 dumbbell with the other. Strengthens leg muscles.