Picture yourself at 40 weeks pregnant, days – maybe hours – from meeting the baby who has called your body home for the last nine months. Car seat, buggy, changing bags lie in waiting. Soon they will take over the job of carrying your baby and everything it needs to get the home comforts you’ve selflessly provided so far.
But wait, your job isn’t over yet. Someone has to push said baby in said buggy, manoeuvre the car seat and carry all their bits and bobs while juggling them on one hip. You’re essentially about to embark on a day-in-day-out obstacle course, and your body will have little choice but to keep up with the challenges at hand.
Just as you commit to give your growing baby the best start by minding your midwives’ advice for then next nine months, it’s every bit as important you give yourself the best start at motherhood by arming your body with the physical strength to tackle the thrilling new obstacles around the corner.
Where to start? I’ve earmarked two foundational movements per trimester from the workout programmes in my pre-natal fitness book Mind, Body, Bump; The Complete Plan for an Active Pregnancy. These bodyweight and resistance-based exercises will specifically strengthen the muscles that are most compromised during pregnancy, stabilise hormone-relaxed joints, help you connect with your deep core to reduce and accelerate rehabilitation of abdominal separation, and, most importantly, make training for two an enjoyable part of your pregnancy.
RESISTANCE: SUMO DEADLIFT
- Stand with your feet just over hip-width apart, toes turned out slightly. Softly bend your knees to pick up the kettlebell from between your feet, hinging from the hips and maintaining ?a flat back as you stand.
- Push your hips into the kettlebell at the top ?of the movement. You should feel the work in your hamstrings and your bum, but you should never feel any pain in your lower back.
- Return the kettlebell to your mid-shin and repeat. Be sure that you’re ‘pulling’ through the back body and not pushing through the front of your thighs.
BODYWEIGHT: SUMO SQUAT TO LATERAL LEG LIFT
- Assume a sumo squat position with your feet wider than your hips and your toes turned out to forty-five degrees.
- Drop into a low squat, then transfer your weight into one leg as you come to stand and laterally extend the other leg to the side.
- Both legs are working, but you should feel an extra squeeze in the glute of the extending leg.
- Stand with your feet just beyond hip-width apart, your spine in neutral, your left toe turned out to the side and a kettlebell or dumbbell pressed above your right shoulder.
- Slowly slide the back of your left palm down your left thigh, maintaining a gentle bend through your left knee without turning the move into a mini lunge.
- Squeeze your right oblique to return to standing, keeping your chest facing forward throughout. Switch sides once you’ve completed all your reps. You’ll build stamina in your back and shoulder and strengthen the supporting muscles of your core and obliques.
BODYWEIGHT: ELEVATED FIGURE-FOUR BRIDGE
- Rest your mid-back on the platform, using a cushion for comfort, and cross your left ankle over your right knee. Pivot on your mid-back and lower your hips while actively opening the left knee to the side.
- Push through the right heel and squeeze the glutes to draw your hips in line with your heart. Hold for a moment at the top and repeat all your reps on this side before switching to the other.
RESISTANCE: KNEELING BAND PALLOF PRESS
- Anchor a resistance band and kneel with your left hip in line with the anchor. There should be enough tension in the band that you have to work to keep your hips square as you hold the band in both hands at your heart centre.
- Without rotating through your hips (your left hip will want to draw back) extend your hands directly in front of your chest. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the start.
- While this hits all your deep-core muscles, it also fires up the obliques of the side body closest to the anchor point. Do all your reps on one side before switching to the other.
BODYWEIGHT: PISTOL SQUAT
- Find a chair, bench or platform that is roughly level with your knees when you sit.?Stand in front of it, balancing on the?working leg while floating the ?other foot just off the floor.
- Slowly drop your bum back and lower?yourself to the chair.
- Make sure your knee tracks over the?toe. Without fully resting your bum on the bench, return to standing.
- Modification: If you need extra support, try holding a broomstick or similar in the opposite hand to counterbalance.
Brit Williams is the founder of SW-London based fitness community Fit Brit Collective, which is devoted to creating bodies fit for empowered lives. A journalist, personal trainer, pre- and post-natal specialist and mother of one (her favourite job of all), her debut lifestyle book Mind, Body, Bump is published by White Lion Publishing this May. Instagram: @FitBritCollective
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