When you’re pregnant, your lower-body muscles have to work harder to help support your growing belly so it’s important to keep your glutes, pelvic floor, and leg muscles stronger than ever.
Here is a great lower body workout that is safe and effective for both pregnant and non-pregnant men and women! Bonus: you can pretty much do it anywhere as well!
Try to complete each exercise for 45 seconds with a 15 second rest in between. Repeat the circuit 3-4x but don’t forget to rest and drink water as much as you need to!
1. Medicine ball squats
- Hold a medicine ball with both hands (you can also do this just using your body weight or holding dumbbell/kettlebell).
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart and lower down into a squat position only going as low as your ROM (range of motion) allows.
- Be sure to keep the weight on your heels, knees tracking over your toes, do not collapse your chest or round your shoulders.
- Drive your hips up and press your heels down to bring you back to the upright position.
Why is this beneficial during pregnancy? Squats are one of the best exercises you can do not only during pregnancy but just in general. They strengthen your entire lower body including your pelvic floor muscles. They open up your hips and stretch tight muscles needed for pushing baby out and they prepare your body for labor and can reduce labor time (I’ll let you know how this one pans out in about 10 weeks!!) They’re also an excellent functional exercise that help your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promote mobility and balance.
2. Hip Thrust
- Set up on a bench with your shoulder blades hooked onto the edge, arms reaching out to the sides, and knees bent to a 90 degree angle.
- Raise the hips up so you have a straight line from your knees to shoulders, by squeezing your glutes as tight as you can.
- Lower hips down towards the floor as you raise your upper body up, and return to the starting position.
- You can also add in some pulses to this move by keeping your hips elevated and squeezing your glutes
- Also, adding a mini looped resistance band just above your knees will help keep your hips in alignment and will activate your glute muscles even more.
Note: Be very careful not to hyperextend your lower back in this position. Think about keeping your ribcage and your pelvis tucked towards one another the entire time.
Why is this beneficial during pregnancy? Hips thrusts are a great glute activation exercise. Strong glutes can help eliminate strain on your back which in turn can help relieve lower back pain which is a common pregnancy symptom.
3. Wall Sit
- Stand against a wall and slide yourself down so that your knees are almost parallel to the floor, with hips slightly higher than your knees.
- Pelvic tilt your hips to push lower back into wall while putting your weight on your heels.
- Lift arms up and place elbows, forearms, and hands against wall and hold this position.
Why is this beneficial during pregnancy? The wall sit is an easy exercise that gives you a lot of bang for your buck by activating your entire lower body; glutes, quads, hamstrings and calf muscles. It’s also an effective position to push the body back into alignment, and having your arms up against the wall it provides a much needed stretch for chest muscles (which tend to get really tight during pregnancy due to rounded shoulders).
4. Step ups with knee raise
- Stand in front of an step, bench or a plyometric box with your feet hip-width apart.
- Place your right foot on the step. Push through your right foot and propel your body up until your left foot lands on the platform next to your right foot, then drive your left knee up towards your chest.
- Pause for a count, then slowly lower your left foot to the ground, followed by your right foot. Step up again, beginning with your left foot.
Why is this beneficial during pregnancy?Step ups are a great compound exercise that work primarily your quads but involve both your knees and hip joints. Your glutes, calves and hamstrings also assist in the movement.They’re also great because they mimic a real-life movement, making it more functional than other lower-body strength exercises.
5. Kneeling hamstring lifts with stability ball
- Start on your hands and knees (hands under shoulders, knees under hips, neutral spine); put small stability ball behind your knee and squeeze it between your calf and hamstring.
- Engage your abs (spine doesn’t move); lift heel up towards ceiling, keeping leg parallel (knee faces floor) and pulse up.
- Repeat this move on one leg for the full 45 seconds and then switch.
Why is this beneficial during pregnancy?This is a great exercise that strengthens your hamstrings but also works your glutes and back. Strong hamstrings work to stabilize your hips and keep your spine, knees and surrounding connective tissue properly aligned which is not only beneficial when you’re toting around your pregnancy bump but also when you’re carrying your little baby! This exercise is also an effective and safe core exercise to practice during pregnancy.
And there ya have it! So simple and yet so effective for pregnancy and beyond! Let me know if you try this workout and, as always, feel free to email me or comment below with any questions or feedback!