5 Prenatal Moves for Total-Body Strength, from Apple Fitness+
Apple Fitness+ is on a mission to make the most inclusive fitness platform out there. Whether you've literally never hit the gym before or are a professional athlete, their 21 trainers offer a workout for everyone (even if all you want to do is take a walk around the block). So it was only natural that this spring, they added pregnancy workouts to their lineup of classes, too.
Led by Fitness+ trainer and mom-to-be Betina Gozo — who is joined by trainers and new moms Emily Fayette and Anja Garcia — every pregnancy workout in the program is a quick 10 minutes. And like every other Apple Fitness+ workout, there is always a trainer demonstrating modifications to accommodate any fitness level and stage of pregnancy. (For example, third-trimester modifications include a pillow for added comfort, as your mobility shifts.)
"These workouts are designed to help moms-to-be feel strong and balanced as their baby grows and center of gravity changes," Gozo tells InStyle. On top of helping you stay active, healthy, and sane during your actual pregnancy, the program is also designed to prepare your body for what's to come. "Being a new mom means moving your body constantly, from lifting and twisting to squatting and getting up and down off the floor. The Workouts for Pregnancy series helps you get ready for life as a new parent in addition to getting you ready for delivery," Fayette says.
And no matter what your friend, sister, or mom may have done during their pregnancy, the trainers stress that prenatal workouts aren't one-size-fits-all. "It's so important to listen to your body and do what feels best for you during your pregnancy. No two journeys are the same, which is why you might find yourself doing the third-trimester modifications in early pregnancy or even postpartum," Garcia adds.
How it works: Complete the two warm-up moves — warming up is especially important during pregnancy — followed by five exercises for the recommended number of reps.
You will need: Dumbbells are recommended for a few exercises, but this workout can be done without any equipment.
Heads' up: The Fitness+ Trainers collaborated with experts from Apple's Health team, which includes ob-gyns and other specialists, but be sure to check with your own doctor before beginning any fitness routine.
1. Staggered Hinge With T
This movement is great for your glutes, hamstrings, and back, and can help improve your posture.
Set-up: Start with both feet hip-width apart, then position your right foot back so it's about 12 inches behind your left heel. Lift your right heel off the ground with your left hand on your left thigh for support and right hand at your side. This is your starting position.
A. Hinge forward at your hips as you raise your right arm straight out to the side, thumb to the ceiling and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together.
B. Bring yourself back to the starting position and do 10-12 reps. Repeat on the other side.
1st/2nd Trimester Option: Take your hand off your thigh if it's not needed for extra support.
3rd Trimester Option: Do a smaller hinge forward from your hips to keep your upper body slightly more upright.
2. Sumo Squat
This movement is great for strengthening your legs and is a good variation for squats as your body changes in pregnancy.
A. Position your feet wider than your hips with your toes slightly turned out. Place your hands on your thighs for additional support.
B. Bend your knees, sitting back slightly and lowering your pelvis toward the floor while keeping an upright torso. Go as low as you feel comfortable, keeping your knees in line with your feet.
1st/2nd Trimester Option: Extend your arms out in front of you or out to the side, if you don't need the extra support with hands on your thighs.
3rd Trimester Option: Squat until your thighs are parallel to floor or less if needed, going as low as you feel comfortable as your center of gravity changes.
5 Prenatal Moves for Total-Body Strength
1. Split Stance Row
As your body changes during pregnancy, your shoulders might start to round forward. These moves help strengthen your back and arms so you can keep good posture.
Set-up: Begin with your right leg back and left leg forward in a split stance position, with your feet about 24 inches apart. With a dumbbell in your right hand, place your left hand on your thigh for optional support. This is your starting position.
A. Lower your right knee a few inches from the ground as you hinge forward at your hips. At the same time, bend your right arm and move your right elbow back towards your hips, squeezing your shoulder blades toward each other to help engage your back muscles.
B. Then slowly lower your right arm back down as you bring yourself back to starting position. Do 10-12 reps. Repeat on other side.
1st/2nd Trimester Option: Go lower on the lunge and don't use your hand for any extra support.
3rd Trimester Option: Decrease your range of motion when you hinge forward and have your arm come out a little wider to your sides to accommodate your growing belly.
2. Squat March Balance with Knee Lift
This movement is great for strengthening your legs and helping to practice your balance as your center of gravity changes during pregnancy.
Set-up: Start with your feet about hip-width apart or wider. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and straighten your arm down at your side.
A. Bend your knees, lowering yourself down into a squat, moving your hips back behind you, and keeping your knees in line with your feet and behind your toes.
B. Stand back up, bending your left leg and raising your left knee up to where you feel comfortable for balance.
C. Lower your left foot back down to the ground, repeat on your right leg. That is 1 rep. Do for 10-12 reps. Repeat with the dumbbell in your left hand.
1st/2nd Trimester Option: Use a heavier dumbbell and squat until thighs are parallel to the floor or less if needed, going to as low as you feel comfortable as your center of gravity changes.
3rd Trimester Option: Use one hand on your thigh for extra support while you squat and lift your heel off the ground instead of lifting your knee up.
3. Front Raise (Stinky Baby)
This movement is designed to strengthen your shoulders, which helps you prepare for holding your baby out in front of you (think: stinky diaper moment).
Start with your feet under your hips and a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. This is your starting position. Raise dumbbell in right hand out in front of you with your shoulders down, elbow slightly bent. Lower dumbbell back to the starting position, then raise left hand with dumbbell out front of you. Lower dumbbell back to starting position. Raise both dumbbells out in front you with your palms facing each other, then lower both down. Make sure to keep your posture tall and avoid leaning back as you lift the dumbbells. That is 1 rep. Do for 10-12 reps.
1st/2nd Trimester Option: Use a heavier set of dumbbells and/or raise the dumbbells a little higher, up to shoulder height if it feels comfortable.
3rd Trimester Option: Bend your arms a bit more and only go as high as feels comfortable, keeping the dumbbells below shoulder height.
4. Half-Kneeling Low to High
This movement helps strengthen your shoulders and helps you practice a twisting motion that can be a good option during pregnancy.
Set-up: Start in a half-kneeling position with your right knee on the ground with cushioning, like a mat, for support and left leg bent at 90 degrees, left foot on floor. Hold one dumbbell with both hands close to your chest and arms bent. This is your starting position.
A. With your core engaged and shoulders back, hinge at your hips, keeping back straight and lowering the dumbbell down towards your right side as you straighten your arms.
B. Return to your starting position and bring the dumbbell back to your chest, then press the dumbbell overhead. That is one rep, do 10-12 reps. Repeat on the other side.
1st/2nd Trimester Option: Use a heavier dumbbell and a bigger range of motion reaching further out from the midline of your body.
3rd Trimester Option: Take out the hinge and instead shift your dumbbell to your right and away from your body, keeping your core engaged. Bring it back to the center of your chest at the starting position, then press the dumbbell overhead. You can place a cushion under your knee for extra padding and comfort.
5. Bird Dog
This movement helps with core strength and stability. It's a great way to keep your back strong as your body changes.
Set-up: Start on your hands and knees with your knees under your hips or wider if it's more comfortable. Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders. With your eye-line right past your fingertips and chin tucked, keep your spine long, not rounded or too arched--this position helps engage your core. This is your starting position.
A. Reach your right arm out in front of you with your upper arm in line with your ear and shoulder relaxed as you extend your left leg straight out behind you. Hold for 1-3 seconds and focus on engaging your core.
B. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side. That is 1 rep. Do for 10-12 reps.
1st/2nd Trimester Option: Raise both opposite hand and foot off the floor at the same time. Maintain length through your spine.
3rd Trimester Option: Extend your opposite arm and leg without lifting your hand and foot completely off the floor.
HomeBODIES is our new recurring column bringing you beginner-friendly workouts you can do from the comfort of home.