No matter how big your belly gets, nicely toned arms and legs will help you feel beautiful the entire nine months.
Summer is the prime time to bare your arms and legs to the world, and this prenatal workout, developed by Fit Pregnancy fitness editor Teri Hanson, can help firm, shape and strengthen these highly visible parts. "These simple moves will not only help you with your balance and prepare you to carry your baby and all the gear you need once he arrives," Hanson says, "they will also make you want to show off your beautiful pregnant body."
This workout can be done throughout your pregnancy. Aim to do all the moves 3 times a week, and warm up first with a brisk 5- to 10-minute walk and 10–15 shoulder and neck rolls. Do 2 sets of 15 repetitions of each move in the order shown, resting 1 minute between sets. Cool down by gently stretching your arms, back and legs.
1. Leg Sweeps: Stand with your right side to a chair back and hold it with your right hand, left hand on hip. Shift your weight to the right leg and lift your left foot off the floor, bringing it slightly in front of the midline of your body, abdominal muscles drawn up and in (shown). Without rotating hips or shoulders, sweep your left leg out to the side. Return to starting position, complete 2 repetitions, then switch sides. One set equals reps on each leg. Strengthens upper hips and hip rotators, keeping hips stable as your pelvis expands and loosens in pregnancy.
2. Ballet Legs: From the Leg Sweep starting position, bend your left knee so left foot is resting against your right calf [A]. Keeping hips and shoulders square and abs drawn up and in, extend the left leg behind you, squeezing your buttocks [B]. Complete 2 reps, then switch sides. One set equals reps on each leg. Strengthens the legs and buttocks and teaches you how to maintain balance and stability as your belly grows.
3. Semi-Squats: Stand with your feet slightly farther than hip-width apart, hands on your hips. Draw your navel in toward your spine, shoulders back and down, chest lifted. Bend your legs, lowering hips as if sitting in a chair; keep knees over ankles (shown). Straighten legs to starting position, squeezing buttocks at the top of the lift to bring your hips back under your shoulders. Strengthens all lower-body muscles, tones thighs and buttocks. Third-trimester tip: Hold on to the back of a chair for balance.
4. Triceps Overhead Extensions: Sit back in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent and upper back touching the chair back. Cup a dumbbell vertically between your thumbs and forefingers and hold it behind your head, elbows bent, pointed to the ceiling and close to your ears. Draw abs up and in, shoulders back and down [A]. Keeping elbows still, straighten your arms, lifting the dumbbell upward, palms up [B]. Bend elbows and repeat. Recommended weight: one 6- to 8-pound dumbbell. Strengthens triceps (back of upper arms). Second- and third-trimester tip: Use pillows to support your back as your pregnancy progresses.
5. Bicep Curls: Sit close to the edge of a chair, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging by your sides, palms facing forward. Draw your abs up and in, shoulder blades down and back [A]. Without moving your upper arms, bend one elbow, curling dumbbell toward your shoulder; lower, and switch arms for 1 rep (1 curl with each arm) [B]. Recommended weight: 6–8 pounds. Strengthens biceps. Third-trimester tip: Use a pillow for back support.
6. Lateral Raises: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in, arms hanging by your sides, abs drawn up and in [A]. With shoulders back and down, lift arms out and up to shoulder height, elbows slightly bent [B]. Slowly lower and repeat. Recommended weight: 3–6 pounds. Strengthens upper back and shoulders and helps you maintain proper posture. Second- and third-trimester tip: Sit in a chair and use a pillow for back support.
CAUTION: Stop exercising if you experience any of these symptoms: pain, fever, bleeding, faintness, cramping, sudden swelling or difficulty walking.