As we rejoice over the recent easing of restrictions in our community, we’re finally able to return to a version of normality again, which for some of us may include returning to the gym or studio. For new mums, or mums in general, finding the time to get to the gym can be hard, so Wotnot Naturals have teamed up with the BUMP Health & Fitness trainers to show you 5 easy exercises that you can do at home, with or without your baby. If you’re currently pregnant, these exercises are completely pregnancy safe and will help prepare your body for the physical challenge of labour. The exercises are carefully selected with a specific purpose and desired outcome, which will be explained in detail below. Essentially, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Let’s get started!
As always, please ensure that you have received a doctor’s clearance before you undergo this exercise routine and always stop if you feel any pain. The rest period between each set should be 60 seconds, however please take your time and rest or have a drink if you need to.
Exercise 1: Glute bridges – 15 repetitions x 2 sets
Lie down on your back on your mat and place bub safely on your hips (if you’ve had a c-section, remove the bub and don’t use any weights). Bend your knees and place feet close to your bottom. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze those glutes hard and keep your abs drawn in. Pause at the top for 2 seconds before slowly returning to the ground. Make sure that you press your fingertips and shoulders into the ground for extra support.
Strengthening your glute muscles is essential for all pre and post-natal workouts as they provide lower back support, which has been weakened due to your compromised core.
Exercise 2: Squats – 20 repetitions x 3 sets
To begin, your toes should be pointed slightly outward, about 5 to 20 degrees outward. Look straight ahead and hold your baby tight (if you’re holding the bub). Keep your chest up and proud, and your spine in a neutral position. Your weight is on your heels and engage your core. Breathe deeply into your stomach, break at your hip and push your butt back. Keep sending your hips backwards as your knees begin to bend. It’s important to start with your hips back, and not by bending your knees. Avoid squatting lower than knee-height to protect your pelvis.
The benefits of squats are great as they are a compound movement, working multiple muscle groups. It will kick-start your metabolism and ensure a nice and strong posture.
Exercise 3: Good mornings – 20 repetitions x 3 sets
Most of you might not be too familiar with this movement, but it’s certainly great for all at home workouts when heavy equipment is hard to find. The movement replicates leaning forward to pick items up, which is ideal to help strengthen your hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
Ensure you have a nice straight back with shoulders pulled back and draw your belly button to spine. With a slight bend in both knees slowly lean forward until your head is almost parallel with your hips, and slowly return to the start. If you’re holding on to your baby, make sure you support their head as you will be leaning forward.
Exercise 4: Reverse Lunges – 10 repetitions (per leg) x 3 sets
To begin, stand upright, with your hands at your hips or holding your baby securely. Take a large step backward with your left foot while lowering your hips, so that your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor with your right knee positioned directly over your ankle. Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor with your left heel lifted. Return to standing by pressing your right heel into the floor and bringing your left leg forward to complete one rep. Stay on the same leg for all 10 repetitions and then repeat on the other leg for 10 reps. Once you’ve finished 10 reps on each side, you have completed one set.
Reverse lunges will open up your hip flexors which can become very tight as a biproduct of pregnancy. It also helps to strengthen your legs and glutes.
Exercise 5: Side Plank – 25-45 seconds static hold x 2 sets
Place you baby on the mat next to you as you lay down on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to feet. Your top leg should be flat on the floor in front of your body. The higher up your foot is, the easier the plank will be. Lift your top arm straight up and stretch towards the ceiling. Hold the position without letting your hips drop for anywhere between 25 to 45 seconds depending on your fitness level and then repeat on the other side.
The side planks are meant to strengthen your internal core and protect your lower back from possible injuries. These are completely pregnancy safe as they are performed on your side, but please note that a ‘normal’ plank is not recommended once you have any abdominal separation (usually from week 16 onwards).
Maintaining your fitness throughout pregnancy and postnatally will reduce your chances of injury, help to speed up your recovery and allow you to return to your previous exercise routine a lot quicker. Mums need to be strong as they carry babies, nappy bags and push prams around the parks, so it’s important to ensure that the body is ready to take on the extra load.
Bump Health & Fitness offers pre and postnatal training for women, both online and in their state-of-the-art studio located in Dee Why, Sydney. For any questions, please contact the team at BUMP via: www.bumphealth.com.au.