Ease your aches and pains with these great upper-body moves.
1. Alternating pullover Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat, then lean back against several firm pillows. (Your head should be higher than your belly, but in
your first trimester, you can lie flat on your back if you’re comfortable.) Hold a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell in each hand, resting the head of the dumbbells against your thighs. Your arms should be extended, palms facing in and elbows slightly bent.
(If you’re lying flat, hold the dumbbells above your abdomen.) Contract the abdominals to bring your back down toward the floor. Keeping your torso motionless and your rib cage and shoulders relaxed, slowly lift your right arm overhead, bringing the top of the dumbbell toward the floor in an arc. Using your back and upper-chest muscles, pull arm back up and over your body, in an arc, to the starting position. Repeat with the left arm, and continue to alternate arms until you do all reps (1 rep equals doing the move with both arms). For variation, do the exercise with both arms moving together. Strengthens middle back, upper chest and shoulders; improves torso stability, particularly as pregnancy progresses.
2. Raise and row Stand with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Contract abdominals and bring spine into a neutral position. Hold a 1- to 3-pound dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging by your sides, palms facing in. Squeeze shoulder blades together, then lift arms in front of you to shoulder height. Don’t rock your torso backward. Turn your palms upward and bend elbows in toward your waist until they are slightly behind you. Straighten arms downward, turn palms in and return to starting position; repeat the entire sequence. Strengthens upper and middle back, shoulders and biceps.
3. Wall push-up Stand at arm’s length from a wall and place your hands on it at about chest height, fingers spread. Separate your feet to hip-width apart and slightly bend your knees. Contract abdominals so your head, neck, back and hips are aligned. Squeeze shoulder blades together and relax shoulders, then bend elbows without flaring them outward, and bring chest toward wall. Without rounding your upper back, return to starting position by using your chest muscles, then repeat. To make the exercise more difficult, use a kitchen counter or bathroom sink instead of a wall. Strengthens chest and shoulders; increases stabilization of upper-back muscles.