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Pregnancy Exercise Guide With Photos

Our Healthy Mummy Pregnancy fitness guru Nikki Boswell has pulled together this simple how-to guide for some common exercises. Thank you to our lovely Inspirational Mum To Be Caren Reynolds for showing us how it’s done!

Please note that pregnancy is a time to maintain your fitness, not to set personal bests. So stick with exercises you are familiar with and always stop if you feel any pain.

Check out our Healthy Pregnancy Eating and Exercise Plan for more information on what exercises are suitable for you and how many reps you should be doing of each during a healthy pregnancy.

Squats

Squats
Start by standing up tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, toes pointing comfortable forward or slightly out is fine. Shoulders are back, chest is lifted and hips are just slightly turned under to create a neutral spine (to find this position, stand with your hands on your hips, so that your index finger is touching your hip bones and thumbs are wrapped around towards your back. Use your hands to tilt your hips up slightly so your back flattens. Your thumbs will tilt down and your index finger up – your back should have flattened just slightly and your bum squeezed just a little).

As you begin to lower, keep your knees behind your toes, maintain the space between your knees (don’t let your knees come in or push out too far) and aim to create a parallel angle between your shins and your spine. Your body weight should be focused through your heels and slightly through the sides of your feet.

Lower yourself as far as you can, aiming to get your thighs parallel with the floor. Hold at the bottom briefly and concentrate on squeezing your glutes as you push back up.

Key Points:

  • Feet shoulder width apart
  • Stand tall with a neutral spine
  • Keep knees behind toes, weight in heels
  • Aim to bring bum parallel with the floor and squeeze glutes

Push up/ assisted push ups

Choose the level that is most suitable for you and don’t forget to make allowances for your growing belly.

Traditional and Modified Push Up

Traditional and Modified Push Up
For a traditional or modified push up, start with your knees or toes on the ground, slightly apart; your spine is neutral (hips slightly tipped forward to flatten your spine), your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart and roughly in line with the shoulder – if you “put your hands up”, at shoulder height with your fingers spread your thumbs should almost touch the side of your shoulder.

Traditional and Modified Push Up
As you lower yourself be sure to keep your abdominals engaged and your spine neutral so that you move through the push up without bending your spine; your elbows remain wide at 90 degree angles from the side of your body (not tucked in). Lower yourself as far as you can, hold briefly and slowly push back up through your palms. Your elbows should remain soft at the top of the move (don’t lock them).

Assisted Push Up

Assisted Push Up
An assisted push up can be done against a chair, as shown, or even against a wall from a standing position for an easier option. Follow the same technique as for a traditional push up.

Key Points:

  • Engage your core with a neutral spine
  • Elbows out wide, at shoulder height
  • Push through your palms, hold briefly at the bottom

Lunge

Lunge
Start by standing tall with your feet hip width apart, toes pointing comfortable forward. Shoulders are back, chest is lifted and hips are just slightly turned under to create a neutral spine.

Take one large step forward. Place the front foot flat on the ground while the back leg bends to allowing the heel to lift. Keep the knee of your front foot behind your front toes, aiming to create a parallel angle between the front shin and the spine.

Lower yourself straight down as far as you can (your back knee may reach the ground), hold briefly then raise up again – Imagine you have a string running all the way through your spine and out the top of your head and you are being pulled up and down from this string.

Key Points:

  • Stand tall with a neutral spine
  • Keep front knee behind front toe
  • Move up and down through a vertical plane

Bird Dog

Bird Dog
Start on your hands and knees with a neutral spine (hips slightly tipped under to flatten your back); slowly raise one arm and the opposite leg until they are horizontal. Your head should remain aligned with your spine so that you are looking down. Hold this position briefly, or perform a few small pulses before lowering, swapping arms and legs and repeating.

Key Points:

  • Raise one arm and the opposite leg
  • Create a horizontal line with your arm, leg, spine and neck
  • Hold or gently pulse

Donkey Kicks

Donkey Kicks
Start on your hands and knees with a neutral spine (hips slightly tipped under to flatten your back); maintain the 90 degree angle in your knee as you press your leg up towards the celling. Your foot should remain flat as you squeeze your glute and press up through the heel at the end of the movement. Repeat several times on each leg before swapping sides.

Key Points

  • Neutral Spine
  • 90 degree angle in knee
  • Press heel to the sky and squeeze glute

Upper body resistance exercises

Perform these upper body resistance exercises seated on a chair or a stability/Swiss ball to reduce the pressure on your back. Always use light weights (40 – 60% 1RM) or improvise with water bottles or cans from the pantry.

Place your feet flat on the floor so that your knees and hips are at 90 degree angles. Your knees should be slightly apart, your toes pointing forward and your spine neutral.

Chest Press and Seated Row

Chest Press and Seated Row
Raise your arms so that your hands are thumbs are almost touching your arm pits, your elbows are lifted and your arms are parallel with the floor.

Push and extend your arms forward through this plane, keeping your arms parallel with the floor. Towards the end of the movement bring your hands together slightly and squeeze your pecs.

Follow the same plane back but take your arms slightly wider as squeeze together your shoulder blades. Imagine someone has placed their finger between your shoulder blades; keep your elbows high as you try to squeeze their finger with your shoulder blades. Avoid shrugging your shoulders, keep your neck long.

Slowly return to a neutral position and repeat.

Key points:

  • Sit tall with a neutral spine, knees at 90 degree, feet flat
  • Elbows wide and high, push through a horizontal plane
  • Squeeze pecs
  • Move back through horizontal plane, keeping elbows high and wide
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together

Side Raises

Side Raises
Start with your arms resting comfortably by your side, palms facing in. Slowly raise your arms to the side until the reach parallel with the floor. Hold briefly and return to the start position.

Key points:

  • Sit tall with a neutral spine, knees at 90 degree, feet flat
  • Allow arms to hang by sides
  • Use shoulders (not shrugging) to raise arms to horizontal

Bicep Curl

Bicep CurlStart with your arms in front of you, so that your elbows are at 90 degree angles along your thighs, palms facing up. Slowly curl your forearms up towards your shoulders. Hold briefly then slowly lower them back to 90 degrees.

Key Points:

  • Sit tall with a neutral spine, knees at 90 degree, feet flat
  • Curl your forearms through a frontal plane
  • Squeeze your bicep

Triceps Extension

Triceps ExtensionTriceps Extension
Hold the weight with both hands behind your head, so that the weights hang vertically. Keep your elbows in close to your ears and slowly extend your arms up, keeping your elbows soft at the top. Pause briefly at the end of the movement, then lower slowly back to the start position.

Key points:

  • Sit tall with a neutral spine, knees at 90 degree, feet flat
  • Place weights behind your head
  • Pull forearms up, keeping elbows near your ears

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Disclaimer: Always speak to your doctor before changing your diet,taking any supplements or undertaking any exercise program in pregnancy. The information on this site is for reference only and is not medical advice and should not be treated as such, and is not intended in any way as a substitute for professional medical advice..

Our plans promote a health weight gain in pregnancy to benefit the mother & baby and you can read more on this here 

The owners of The Healthy Mummy do not make any representations or warranties, express or implied and shall have no liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained herein and nothing in this disclaimer will limit or exclude any liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence, limit or exclude any liability for fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation, limit any liabilities in any way that is not permitted under applicable law or exclude any liabilities that may not be excluded under applicable law.

lee-price
written by:

Lee Price

Lee is a mother of two children who loves writing, the beach, cooking, and drinking coffee. She lives on the south coast of NSW and can usually be found pushing her kids on the swing at the local park.