Exercises is fantastic during pregnancy and helps prepare your body ready for labour, and can help you avoid aches and pains as your bump grows and your body changes.
There are some weight exercises that are not recommended when you’re pregnant, so it’s very important to talk to an expert at your gym or fitness centre before you get started.
For example, you should avoid:
. cross-fit type training, which encourages the use of lifting heavy weights in a timed circuit.
. general circuit classes using bar bells and fast movements
. exercises that use heavy bar bells behind your neck after 12 weeks (use dumbbells instead)
. deadlifts, clean and press, and upright rows, as there is a risk of the bar touching the baby bump – these exercises need control correct technique, correct knee and shoulder alignment – but in pregnancy this is difficult
. weighted sit-up exercises after 12 weeks
. abdominal rotation machines.
We tend to stick to using resistance bands when we are training clients who are pregnant. Resistance bands are stretchy bands which are flexible enough to pull in all different directions. They are a safe alternative to using free weights as there are no risks of them falling on or banging your bump.
Here our personal trainer Melanie Gilder, who is also in her 3rd trimester takes us through some simple exercises using resistance bands and explains why she likes using them and which are the best ones…..
“I personally love working with resistance bands, they are small to have at home and can can really give you a full body workout without using any weights and are less likely to cause you injuries. You can purchase resistance bands of all different strengths, so if your just starting out id go with an easy more flexible one and slowly build your way up. But a good rule of thumb is to do more repetitions will an easy band rather than less with a stronger one as to not cause any strain. But what i would say is still always seek advice from a trainer before you start especially if you are pregnant as there will still be certain things you should’t do.
Here i have put together a few easy exercises you can try at home..
1. Lateral Back/Upper Body Pulls
- Grab the ends of your resistance band and extend arms overhead.
- Stretch the bands out above your head until you feel a nice, comfortable strain.
- Then, lower the stretched band to torso level and return to overhead position.
That cycle represents 1 full rep. You should try to hold that stretch for 1 minute or longer (if comfortable). However, if that is too much to start out, try to complete 30 repetitions of this exercise by holding the stretch as long as you can manage. As you do these exercises more often and become fitter, you will be able to tolerate the exercise longer.
2. Bent Over Rows
- Grab the ends of your resistance band and bend over from the waist.
- Loop the resistance band around each foot (similar to Mickey Mouse ears) and cross the ends.
- Leaning forward and keeping your arms tucked close to your sides, you should pull the ends of the bands upward towards your chest and back down while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Once again, you should try to hold that stretch for 1 minute or longer (if comfortable). If that is not possible, try to complete 30 repetitions of this exercise by holding the stretch as long as possible.
3. Opposing Muscle Groups
- Grab the ends of your resistance band, position it around your back, and under your armpits.
- Wrap the ends of the bands around hands or use the handles if your resistance bands have them.
- Then, extend your arms out forward as far as comfortable, with elbows bent, and touch your hands together.
- Then, bring your arms back towards your chest.
Again, you should try to hold that stretch for 1 minute or longer (if comfortable). If that is not possible, try to complete 30 repetitions of this exercise by holding the stretch as long as possible.
4. Chest Fly Exercises
This exercise requires the same placement of the resistance band and is an extension of the Opposing Muscle Groups exercise we covered in number 3.
The difference is that once you extend your arms forward, with elbows bent, and touch your hands together initially, you continue this exercise by extending your arms out sideways and drawing your hands back together in the centre.
As with the previous exercises, you should try to hold that stretch for 1 minute or longer (if comfortable). If that is not possible, try to complete 30 repetitions of this exercise by holding the stretch as long as possible.
5. Biceps Curls
- Grab the ends of your resistance band and loop the resistance band under both feet so that you are standing on top of it.
- Then, wrap the ends around your hands or use the handles of the bands, pull in an upward direction (to the sky), and back down towards the ground.
This is a simple exercise most people are familiar with but it is quite effective for bicep and core strengthening. As with all of these exercises, you should try to hold that stretch for 1 minute or longer (if comfortable). If that is not possible, try to complete 30 repetitions of this exercise by holding the stretch as long as possible.
Remember if at any point you feel like you are straining or the exercise starts to feel uncomfortable, stop immediately. Before starting any workout whilst you are pregnant it is extremely important to get professional advice first and check with your midwife that you are safe to start.
Ive added a link to my favourite resistance bands for you which i love as they are easy to work with, i find them comfortable as some can pinch your skin a little, the strengths are as described and as they should be and iv’e also found that they are one of the few i have tried with don’t snap mid workout (which believe me hurts!!!)
Good luck with your training, get purchasing your bands and get going!