The definition of an impediment is “an obstruction in doing something.” This made me laugh, because it is so literal right now with this growing bump! With such a large “impediment” to maneuver around (and protect with my life) – I have had to modify my exercises quite a bit!
Staying fit and maintaining muscle during pregnancy is no joke, and it changes almost weekly. My best advice? To listen to your body and make any and ALL adjustments in order to stay healthy and safe—even if it means taking a few days off. I know I have!
But when you do happen to have the energy and feel like working that posterior chain of yours, here is a great workout (plus my tips and suggestions on form) that feels great and works all the angles.
Sumo-stance bodyweight squats (as a warm-up) 3 sets x 15 reps
Box or bench step-ups 4 sets x 12-15 reps each leg
Walking lunges 4 sets x 25-30 steps
Glute kickbacks 4 sets x 12-15 reps each leg
Dual cable lat pulldowns on exercise ball 4 sets x 15 reps
Bent over dumbbell rows 4 sets x 15 reps
Seated cable rows 4 sets x 15 reps
Sumo-stance bodyweight squats Depending on your balance, perform these near a wall, or anything sturdy within an arm’s reach, in case you need to grab it to help yourself up or regain balance. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width and point your toes out slightly. Keep your chest lifted, your lower back arched, your butt out and the weight in your heels. Dig with your heels on the way up and squeeze your glutes at the top. Perform slow reps, with a short pause at the very bottom and top of each rep.
Box or bench step-ups The height of your box or bench will really depend on your balance and comfort level. I am 19 weeks and my belly still allows me to do these, but I can see how a larger belly might start to really get in the way. I’ll come up with some new modifications for you next trimester!
Start with a lower box and work your way up to slightly higher as you feel comfortable. You’ll want to stand slightly off to the left side of the box when stepping up with your right leg, and vice-versa (as opposed to doing the step-up from directly behind the box when you aren’t pregnant with a belly in the way).
Don’t be afraid to give yourself room on the box to place your non-working leg’s foot down for balance when you get to the top of the step-up.
Make sure you are driving with the heel that is on top of the box, and try to keep that knee from bending beyond the toes of that foot – that will help keep the weight in your heel and the work in your glutes and hamstrings.
Walking lunges Feel free to add dumbbells to these if you can! I usually do, but since this workout incorporates these as part of a superset, you will already be getting great benefit. If you exercised frequently before pregnancy, you don’t need to worry too much about watching your heart rate during your workouts (after you receive your doctor’s OK and if you don’t have any medical concerns or conditions). The best rule of thumb is to make sure you can still hold a conversation while you exercise. If you can’t, perhaps take the intensity level down a notch and give yourself a little more rest between sets.
Instead of moving fluidly through these walking lunges, make sure to stop for a moment at the top with both feet together. This will assure that you have your balance and can take the next lunging step. If you rush too quickly and don’t pause at the top, you will most likely compromise your form and/or lose your balance.
Glute kickbacks – Obviously, at some point in your pregnancy, the standard glute kickback machines are going to get in the way of your belly. This is when this version of the glute kickback comes in! It may take a few reps to get your body in the correct position and get enough padding under your non-working leg’s knee, but once you get the feel of it, this exercise rocks! There is nothing in the way of your belly, and it is a very comfortable position for your back.
In my 1st and 2nd trimesters, I tried doing different versions of glute kickbacks using the ankle cuff and a low cable, but I always found that my lower back starts throbbing early in the exercise. So, I like to stick with this version of kickbacks on the lying leg curl machine.
Again, dig with your working leg’s heel and squeeze at the top, practicing slow reps in and out of the movement.
Lat Pull Downs on Exercise Ball (not pictured) – Every pregnant woman should fall in love with these exercise balls! I loved using it here to do lat pulldowns. On the standard lat pulldown machine, the lap pad will get in the way of your belly, so this is just one of MANY versions and modifications I will show you for working your back!
Try to keep your elbows in line with your torso (instead of in front of your torso) and get a good squeeze at the bottom. Instead of initiating the pulldown by moving your arms, try to activate your scapula and back muscles first to begin pulling the weight down. This will help with using the correct muscles in your back for this movement (instead of your arms).
Bent-over dumbbell rows I wanted to go a little heavier here, but without having my upper body supported, my back was aching a bit using a heavier weight. I dropped the weight, increased my usual reps here and focused on my form and the squeeze at the top. You can do these underhand, overhand or “corkscrew” the dumbbells up to perform this exercise.
Keep the dumbbells in line with your quads during the movement, so that you don’t bring them up too high and begin to activate other muscles you are not trying to work, like your traps.
Seated cable rows I like these, because I get to sit and the foot pads are usually far enough apart so that I give my belly enough room. Keep your chest lifted and your lower back arched for proper form throughout the movement and, again, pause for a moment to squeeze the contraction.
Try to initiate the row by activating your back muscles (like your lat pulldowns) instead of just moving your arms back and forth. Don’t forget to play around with different handle attachments to work different muscles and angles!
With Love From the Trench Kitchen,