Before I got pregnant I always admired the women who were well into their third trimester, giving it their all and making it look so easy.
I figured that if I was ever in that position that I could do most exercises well into the final days of my pregnancy, without having to modify that much.
I now know that is not the case. It was a bit of a shocker to learn just how much you need to modify, to accommodate for the growing baby.
“No twisting,” “no sit-ups” and “limit the time you spend on your back” were all things I was told by instructors. “Really?” I thought. How bad could it really be to twist your body? I had to learn this lesson the hard way, as my OB/GYN let me know toward the end of the second trimester that my ab muscles had separated.
Knowing that I had to start taking these modifications seriously, I’ll share with you some of the adjustments I had to make and what worked for me.
Things for Pregnant Women to Avoid
If there is a segment in class where you need to twist your body (and there usually is), avoid swiveling your body and instead lift the ball straight up and down or you can do fake twists or mini twists, which I sometimes do, so you are not rotating completely to the left or right. I know this won’t really be working my obliques but sometimes you want to be able to work on the same movements as everyone else in class.
Obviously avoid anything on your stomach, after the first trimester.
If the class is doing back work that requires you to lie flat on your stomach, obviously the bump is going to start getting in the way after the first trimester. Luckily there are some great exercises you can do as an alternative, that will still work the same muscle groups.
For one, you can start by coming down to the floor on your hands and knees, so you are on all fours. Your shoulders should be square with your hands and head. Start extending your arm and opposite leg at the same time. Switch to the other leg, while the rest of class is about halfway through their exercise.
Some Easy Modifications
Modified plank or pushups.
If you need to, come down to your knees and don’t feel guilty about it!
Place a ball behind your back for any ab work on the floor.
For extra support, especially when you’re doing ab work on the floor, place a ball behind your lower back, which will prop you up a bit more so you aren’t putting as much strain on your abdominal muscles.
Speaking of ab work on the floor. Start by sitting up and then work your way down.
What I mean by this, is that if you are in class and they start doing ab work that involves moving from flat on your back into a “V” shape or upward position, this is probably putting a lot of pressure on your ab muscles. To avoid this, start by sitting up with your feet planted on the floor and then work your way back, until you need to stop. Think of it as the inverse of starting from the floor and working your way up.
Listen to your body.
It might be tempting to try to keep up with everyone else in the class but remember that you are growing a human, so you are already a superstar for showing up to class. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
No need to prove anything to anyone. Your body is working extra hard these days, so don’t push yourself more than you think you can handle.
Exercises that you can still rock without modifications
- Plank (however, you might prefer to come down to your knees).
- Pushups (same thing, you might want to be on your knees if you don’t want to be in full pushup mode).
- Arm exercises – just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean your arms get a break.
- Calf raises.
- Tricep dips.
- Most thigh and seat exercises at the bar. Just make sure your shoulders are relaxed.
- Bridge lifts (see video tutorial below).
Do you have any other helpful suggestions? Leave a comment below.