An exercise ball and your precious bump are all you need to do the following simple 7 step exercise regime. It targets all the major muscle groups – quads, hamstrings, glutes (bum), chest, shoulders and core. You will be using your own body weight for resistance and can be done in the comfort and privacy of your home.
The Lunge: begin in a standing position holding the ball out in front of you (position a). Step backwards into a deep lunge (knee hovering just above the floor) and raise your arms above your head (position b). Be mindful to contract your pelvic floor during the lunge for added support. This exercise targets your glutes, hamstrings, shoulders and core. Repeat 10 lunges on each leg.
The push up: begin in a kneeling position leaning against the ball (position a). Holding the ball firmly in place, lower your upper body down into a push up against the ball (position b). If the position is too strenuous, lean the ball against the wall. You will be working your pectoral (chest) muscles and activating your abdominals too. Repeat 10 times.
The dual crunch: recline against the ball and allow your spine to relax into the natural curve of the ball (position a). Raise your shoulders off the ball and contract your pelvic floor and lower abs at the same time – your sacrum (base of your spine) should move away from the support of the ball. This dual movement targets the upper and crucial lower abdominals. Repeat 10 times.
The deep squat: begin in a standing position holding the ball out in front of you (position a). Lower your bottom as if you are sitting down into a chair (position b). The ball in your arms will help to counter balance you. You will be working your glutes, hamstrings, core and shoulders. Once again, contract your pelvic floor for support. 10 repetitions.
The plank: rest your elbows on the ball and balance on your toes trying to keep your trunk as straight as possible. This is an intense core strengthening exercise. Try to hold the position for 30 seconds.
The hamstring curl: lie on your back with your feet on the ball. Contract your pelvic floor and raise your hips up to form a bridge between your feet and shoulders (position a). Slowly bring your knees in towards your bottom (position b) and straighten them out again – this is one repetition, repeat 10 times. This exercise works your hamstrings, glutes and lower back. This exercise can be omitted in the third trimester if you battle to lie on your back due to added baby weight.
The oblique twist: begin in a “v” position with your feet hovering off the floor and arms above your head (position a). Swing the ball from side to side contracting your abdominals as you move your arms across your body (position b). Repeat 10 times each side. This exercise is pretty strenuous, so drop your feet to the floor if you find it too difficult. The twist works deeply on your oblique abs and core and tones the shoulders.
Resistance and body weight type exercise are an essential part of being healthy during your pregnancy. These exercises help support your skeleton as your growing belly increases the strain on your muscles, ligaments and tendons. Exercising throughout your pregnancy will help alleviate back pain, assist with keeping your energy levels up, and help you get back into your pre-pregnant condition once you have your baby.
Always inform your gynae or midwife about your exercise programmes. Be sure to hydrate yourself adequately during exercise, and never overdo it – you have the rest of your life to be super fit and strong. Enjoy this time as your prepare your body to bring forth life.