Although pregnancy might not be the best time for women to begin exercising if they never have before, there’s no denying that using the right pregnancy exercises can help your body feel better during both pregnancy and childbirth.
While you are pregnant, there’s no doubt that your body is undergoing more physical stress than it ever has before. Even for female professional athletes or military personnel, pregnancy is a unique physical stress that nothing else can compare to.
According to one study which was published in Obstetrics and Gynecology,
“Of 862 women who answered the questionnaires, about half developed some degree of low back pain. Seventy-nine women who were unable to continue their work because of severe low back pain were referred to an orthopedic surgeon for an orthoneurologic examination.”
In another study (which was conducted on a total of 1,460 women) published by the journal Spine,
“A total of 293 women (20.1%) were found to have pelvic joint pain divided in one of the four classification groups.”
The Best Exercises for Pregnant Women
When considering the best exercises for pregnant women, the main focus has to be on reducing the stress on the back and improving the function of the hips and pelvis.
Check out these five pregnancy exercises, as well as a couple other forms of exercise which can dramatically improve how your body feels while pregnant!
You can also watch this video of me performing each exercise and explaining some additional information before you continue reading!
1.) Glute Bridge
As you will quickly notice by the end of this article, my main focus for pregnancy exercises is improving the strength of your glute and hamstring muscles, while also improving muscular stability. One of the simplest exercises for pregnant women is the glute bridge, which you can easily perform on the ground right now!
Glute bridges are a simple exercise for improving the strength of your glutes, and also helping to “activate” your glutes each day.
You will probably notice that it is easier to walk even after just one set of glute bridges!
2.) Single Leg Deadlift
The single leg deadlift is one of the best exercises for improving imbalances in your leg muscles and improving your single leg stability.
When you are pregnant, you are going to notice that your balance is not what it used to be. If your balance was never good, you are going to want to work on it more than ever!
Doing single leg deadlifts without weight will quickly improve the strength and stability of your knee, hip, and ankle joints, while also improving your glute strength and taking pressure off of your lower back!
No, I am not talking about back squats or squats with weight. However, body squats or “air squats” are one of the absolute best exercises for pregnant women!
Bodyweight squats help develop lower body strength throughout all of your lower body muscles, and they also are great for helping you build lean muscle mass and stimulating your metabolism.
Squats can get your heart rate up very high, so don’t start with doing too many at once! Make sure you squat in a slow and controlled motion.
4.) Reverse Slide Lunges
You have probably heard of lunges or walking lunges, but reverse slide lunges are the safer and more effective cousin of these exercises which you might not have seen before!
To do reverse slide lunges, you’ll need a towel and floor which you can “slide” on.
Simply slide one of your legs backwards into a lunge position and repeat. This is an excellent exercise for all your leg muscles, and as well your hip flexors.
If you want to see an example, check out this video of my husband doing a few difficult variations:
5.) Forearm Plank
In my opinion, there are not many ab exercises for pregnant women which are safe to do. You should not do any type of “crunches,” and you should honestly restrain yourself from doing too many ab exercises overall.
However, the forearm plank is a great ab exercise for your pregnancy, and it is one of the best exercises for reducing muscular-related back pain overall.
In fact, a study published by the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy examined the relationship between back pain and college athletes and their ability to hold a forearm plank for a long duration. As stated by the study,
“The results of this study imply that poor core endurance is likely associated with nonspecific Lower Back Pain (LBP) in collegiate athletes.”
You don’t need to start with a long duration of the forearm plank, 30-45 seconds per set is enough until you feel stronger!
How to Do a Pregnancy Workout
Although you could try to do these exercises sporadically throughout the day, I think the best option for pregnant women is to use them together for an awesome pregnancy workout.
If you would like to use these five exercises together for a pregnancy workout, I suggest using 3 sets of 10 repetitions for the strength exercises, and 3 sets of 45-seconds to 1-minute for the forearm plank.
Also, you can do them in this order:
- Glute Bridge
- Single Leg Deadlift
- Body Squats
- Reverse Slide Lunges
- Forearm Plank
Along with these exercises, I also suggest that you do as much walking and pregnancy yoga as possible!
Walking can help you maintain your cardiovascular health even more while you are pregnant, and yoga will further help improve muscular imbalances and reduce stress on your joints.
Pregnancy Exercises and Childbirth
Along with helping improve your physical health and reduce joint pain during pregnancy, using the right exercises can also make childbirth much easier. For example, according to a study on the effects of a prenatal yoga program on the discomforts of pregnancy and childbirth in Taiwanese women that was published in the journal Midwifery,
“women who took part in the prenatal yoga program reported significantly fewer pregnancy discomforts than the control group at 38–40 weeks of gestation. The subjects who participated in the yoga program exhibited higher outcomes and self-efficacy expectancies during the active stage of labor and the second stage of labor compared with the control group.”
Choosing to use these pregnancy exercises, as well as prenatal yoga and a steady amount of walking is a great way to improve your health before childbirth and during!
Additional Reading: The Art of Being a Fit Woman