The Daily Pregnancy Workout: 18-22 weeks

My first pregnancy was like any other…9+ months of learning, discovering, and guessing.  I didn’t know what my body could, couldn’t, should, or shouldn’t do and simply continued my cardio driven regimen for as long as I could.  6 weeks after my baby boy was born (and 6 weeks after a long, slow, gruesomely beautiful delivery) I tried to do walking lunges to “warm up” for my garage work out.  I got down, stayed down, then slowly sank all the way to the ground.  That felt weird. I moved on to squats–because using both legs equally would be easier.  I lowered down, and shook like their were ants in my pants all the way up. What was happening?

My arms were strong and my cardio was still an A+, but the entire region from my belly button to my knees was completely depleted.  Getting up from the floor was challenging, getting into my husband’s Texas-size truck was comical, and you already know the result of my workout attempt.  I realized immediately that if I ever had the privilege of being pregnant again, I would put more focus and attention on the region of the body affected most during pregnancy. And here we are…18 months later!

Because we all know the first trimester is 100% dedicated to just surviving each day, I didn’t put too much pressure on myself.  Now officially in the smack middle of the second trimester, the energy has returned and I wanted to stay committed to my goals.  Each morning (for the most part) of the last 4 weeks I start with this quick jump starter to help gain or maintain strength in the “baby zone”:

  • 25 squats
  • 12 elevated lunges per leg
  • 25 tricep dips
  • 25 push ups
  • 12 bridges, 25 second hold, 12 more bridges
  • 12 ceiling circles per direction per leg
  • 25 ceiling circles
  • 10 stomach vacuums

SQUATS

Serves as a total body warm up and is a basic movement that you never want to go too long without practicing!

  • Toes facing forward, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Lower down through your heels keeping knees wide
  • Keep pace steady and quick to increase heart rate

ELEVATED LUNGES

Booty beware!  This spin on stationary lunges is extra challenging for the front glute and quad and provides a welcoming stretch for your back hip flexor.  Use additional support for balance if needed!

  • Start with your back foot (toe or top of the foot) on a chair or elevated surface
  • Hop the front foot out until your back leg is at a slight angle
  • When you lower down, your back leg should bend and your weight stays centered

TRICEP DIPS

Because your arms are about to be full…! It’s easy to neglect the back side of our body, but having strong triceps is important to balance and assist the work of your biceps.

  • Place palm of your hand on the end of a chair of similar surface
  • Walk feet out and start with legs at a 90 degree angle
  • As you lower, your booty and lower back should skim against the edge of the chair

PUSH UPS

If there was one exercise I would recommend doing every day, it’s push ups.  Maintaining core strength has its advantages for obvious post-partum reasons, but push ups also make you feel empowered in an unusual, superwoman way. Easy to transition into various positions as your beautiful belly grows.

  • Start on your knees (recommended to avoid straining the abdominals)
  • Rock forward until weight is on the tops of the quads, not directly on your knees
  • Lower chest to the floor keeping neck and spine neutral

BRIDGES

An amazing exercise for strengthening the muscles around the pelvic region, including: the lower back, lower abs, glutes, and hip flexors. Floor exercises on your back won’t be comfortable for long, so try them while you can!

  • Lay on your back and bend your knees with feet flat on the ground
  • Lift your pelvis toward the ceiling and adjust your feet if you feel too much work in your quads or are unable to reach max height from the ground.
  • Keep pace controlled and avoid forceful movements to protect over-stretching abdominal muscles.

CEILING CIRCLES

Stretching and strengthening collide in this wonderful Pilates-inspired move. This 360° exercise is incredible to keep your hips and inner thighs long and strong while continuously engaging your lower abs.

  • Extend one leg up and extend the other leg down on the ground
  • Direction #1: Lower leg down and across your body, circle out wide and up.
  • Direction #2: Lower leg down and out wide, circle across your body and up.

SCISSOR KICKS

This exercises targets the entire abdominal region, upper to lower.  Again, at this stage of pregnancy laying flat on your back may begin to be uncomfortable, so feel free to substitute these with standing leg lifts.

  • Extend one leg up and extend the other leg out about 2 inches from the ground
  • Protect your lower back by raising your head and shoulders off the ground.
  • Move both legs simultaneously to alternate

STOMACH VACUUMS

Hang with me on this one.  The method I suggest may be a little different than what you find on a google search, but the primary purpose is undeniable: to strengthen the inner muscles that support your abdominal wall.   Practicing this post-partum with my first baby was a miracle worker.  Women and men at any stage can benefit from this oddly simple exercise.

  • Stand with knees slightly bent with good posture (I recommend starting against a wall until you’re familiar with the process)
  • Take a deep breath in.  As you exhale, pull your stomach in and try to “attach your belly button to your spine”
  • Hold it until you feel a burn. Begin to breath lightly and slowly until you reach 10 seconds. Release, breath, and repeat

Tip for success: Write this workout down on a post-it note and put it on your cell phone each night.  When you wake up in the morning, (to turn off the alarm or just check your phone) you have to remove the sticky note and think about when the workout is going to happen. Boom…accountability.

We have some other tips for waking up on the right side of the bed.  Check out the recent post Eat Glitter for Breakfast for some early morning inspiration!

Join the discussion

Danae TrunnellJune 21, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Thanks for sharing this! When I get pregnant for the second go around I think this will be helpful!

Reply

KatherineJuly 15, 2017 at 8:55 am

I’m 16 weeks pregnant and this is my first pregnancy. My midwife recommended exercising, but I wasn’t sure what kind to do…I found this post and emailed it to my midwife to make sure it was safe for me to do and she said yes! I’ve done the half of the set a few times – to start out slowly and work my way up to the full set. I love it and I love that I’m getting my body prepared for labor – Thank you Emily for sharing!! P.s. I love that my friend introduced me to Refit a few years back, y’all are amazing!

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *