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Pregnancy is hard because your back hurts, your tummy is tight, you’re tired, and you’re not even supposed to do a lot of exercises while pregnant. So is it even worth the effort to work out? Well yes, it is, because it’s been proven that both you and the baby benefit from physical activity. Exercise done right leads to a healthy baby and healthy pregnancy. Here is my breakdown so you can know what to do and what not to do.
Exercises I Don’t Do During Pregnancy
Everyone is different, but I did my pre-pregnancy workouts up until roughly my third trimester. After that, I stopped doing these moves:
- Standard pushups (feet on floor)
- Jumping or high impact moves
- Planks and any exercise requiring the plank position
- Ab exercises (bicycle, crunch, scissor kick, V ups, etc.)
- Pull ups
I also tried not to spend too much time on my back, as this can suppress the superior vena cava and cause different issues for you and the baby.
The main reason I didn’t do these moves when my belly was bigger was because I felt strained, and the moves didn’t feel “right”. I didn’t want to cause any complications for my baby or for the pregnancy in general, and I also didn’t want to do exercises that were no longer effective due to my stretched ab muscles.
So now you may be asking…
What Exercises Does That Leave?
I was determined to have effective workouts, so I created, modified and found workouts that utilized these moves instead:
- Modified pushups (examples: wall pushups, knees on ground, V pushups)
- Oblique exercises (examples: standing side crunches, side plank)
- Wall sits
- Upper body plyometric exercises
But using these exercises alone simply was not an effective enough workout for me most of the time. The moves were not hard enough to make me sweat in 15 minutes, which was what I wanted. I would also look up pregnancy workouts on Pinterest and would be disappointed every time because they felt too easy and I wasn’t getting the workout I wanted.
Equipment That Made ALL THE DIFFERENCE
In the past I have really focused on high impact bodyweight exercises to tone up, so getting pregnant eliminated a lot of good exercises.
How did I make my workouts harder while staying low impact? I added weights! For my leg workouts, I used five pound ankle weights, and for my upper body, I utilized ten pound dumbells. My midwife gave the okay for these, but of course I recommend consulting your own physician.
How Ankle Weights + the Pregnancy Weight Toned My Legs
The nice thing about being pregnant is that you have at least 15 pounds of extra weight (usually more) that your muscles have to carry around, and I found that that extra weight alone helped tone my legs. That’s right! I was carrying 23 extra pounds by the end of my pregnancy, and with an active lifestyle and lots of walking in my regular routine, my legs got some definition. So never underestimate walking. If you don’t believe me, read THIS ARTICLE.
Imagine how much more definition I was able to get using ankle weights. All of a sudden I started seeing a bigger difference in my results. Not to mention that when I used the ankle weights, I was able to get a harder workout in a shorter amount of time. Now that I’m not pregnant, I still use my ankle weights because they are so effective! I like to use ankle weights with adjustable straps and weights; that way you can increase or decrease the weight based on the exercise.
How Increasing My Dumbbell Workouts Toned My Arms
I used to only work out my arms about once every two weeks using dumbbells. I just had other workouts that I liked to alternate between, so I only got around to an arm workout every so often. Since my options were so limited while I was pregnant, I started using dumbbells two or three times a week. Oh my goodness, the difference! My arms looked possibly more defined than pre-pregnancy.
Dumbbell Pregnancy Workout Printables:
Here are four dumbbell workouts that I used while I was pregnant. It was so hard to find workouts that didn’t include moves I had to avoid. These aren’t actually designated as “pregnancy workouts” but they worked wonders for me. You can download and print these workouts for free!
Shoulders and Arms, adapted from Beachbody’s P90X : PRINT HERE
Legs and back, adapted from P90X (also very effective without dumbbells!): PRINT HERE
Ankle Weight Workouts:
These are my top two ankle weight workouts. There are others you can find, but these really covered the basics and always left me sore the next day! Be careful about the exercises that have you lying on your back. There are only a couple. I opted to keep doing the back exercises, but I made sure to limit the total time on my back and to pay close attention to how I was feeling.
Download and print my ankle weight workouts for free!