I received a lot of questions and messages asking for a strength training workout example for women while pregnant and not being able to attend the gym (mostly personal preferences and logistic reasons), so I decided to dedicate these 60 minutes without my sweet baby girl (she’s on a Monday walk with her pappa) to give a deeper understanding of strength training to those interested.
The 5 rules you must remember and respect
- If you have no foundation or experience in the gym or fitness area whatsoever, please DO NOT ENGAGE in any of these exercises while pregnant.
- If you have any injury, past injury or anything that bothers you, worries you or any sort of physical restriction or heart illness, please CONSULT with your doctor before you perform any exercise.
- If you are over 35 years of age, please CONSULT with your doctor before you perform any exercise (there might be a higher risk of injury depending on your condition and labor).
- If you have no foundation or experience in the gym or fitness area but you do want to keep active while pregnant, do CONSIDER signing up for swimming, or take brisky power walks every day (if your doctor gave you the green light).
- At any point of doubt, please ALWAYS CONSULT with your doctor before taking someone’s else advice, such as blogs, posts, online opinions, Google searches, etc. This blog is merely informative and directed to perfectly healthy individuals that are able to engage in sports and vigorous activities.
Necessary equipment once you’ve understood the rules
It’s extremely necessary to understand that when pregnant, what comes first is the safety of your baby – and yours as well, of course. Whether you would REALLY want to engage in physical exercise so badly because you might feel a little stressed over the extra weight you already put on, or whether you might feel social pressure from social media accounts or other ”active mammas”, please always do what is best for you, your own pregnancy and your own wellness and physical condition. I am here for you in case you’re totally able to engage in exercise, if you’re all set, ready and in perfect health condition (both you and your growing baby) and my aim with these posts is to break the extremely stupid and inaccurate myth of ”exercise during pregnancy is very risky” when we talk about healthy women.
Why? Mainly because it’s inaccurate and instead of making women understand that statements like these are mainly directed to people that have certain conditions or higher risks of injuries/illnesses/un-health, the illiterate vox populis has made an overall ”all pregnancies advice” out of it because it’s comfortable, because it’s easier to make women take pills and whatever blend of teas that will take away magically nausea, joint pains, back pains, etc.
Now that you’ve understood the importance of knowing how to personalise your own pregnancy experience, if you know you’re all set up for taking up a 7 days home workout, then you will need:
- A set of dumbbells of varying weights ideally from 5kg to 12kg (or 14, 16kg ideally, especially for squats)
- A bench to sit on or an inclined armchair (you can use your kitchen bench if you have one)
A Full-Body Home Workout Example with Dumbbells
For an explosive workout use 5 sets per exercise, for a fairly challenging one use 3 sets per exercise. Please notice that you must adjust the form of these exercises according to your comfort (belly size and balance spots).
- Warm up by taking a 15 minutes power walk or if you have a static bike at home use it for 10 minutes, but while pregnant, walking can be easier than biking, so try to take the walk instead.
- Squats with dumbbells 3×12. Get on the correct squat position with your knees slightly bent, core tight, glutes tight and neutral back – grab the heaviest dumbbells you own and place them on your shoulders holding them while you squat up and down.
- Lunges with dumbbells 3×12. Make sure you’re able to perform this exercise without losing your balance. With the dumbbells places on your shoulders lunge either backwards or forward as you find it more comfortable depending on the size of your belly. You can touch the floor with your knee to make sure you get the most out of the movement.
- Romanian Deadlifts with dumbbells 3×12. Still using the heaviest dumbbells you have, get into the deadlift position – feet hip width apart, holding the dumbbells at thigh level with hands shoulder width apart, straight back all movement long and bend from waist holding your hips back while you lower the dumbbell. Keep the dumbbells as close to the shins and thighs as possible during the entire movement, bending and going as deep down as your flexibility allows. It is OK to bend the knees a little bit while going up. You should feel the stretch in your hamstrings when you lower the weights and that will mean you’re correctly targeting your legs.
- Sumo Squats with dumbbell 3×12. With feet wider than your shoulder width, toes rotated towards the outside, tight core and glutes, reach down holding the heaviest single dumbbell with both hands in front of you, pushing through the heels while extending back up always holding a straight back while lifting. When you reach back to the top, squeeze your glutes together.
- Rows with dumbbells 3×12. This exercise particularly will target your back and you can perform it standing or leaning on a bench. Bend forward, holding your back straight, having the dumbbells on both of your hands leave them hanging down pulling them up on a straight movement at a 90° angle from your legs, focusing on feeling the weight on your middle section of the back. You can also do this exercise one arm at a time while you hold tight onto something with the other hand so you don’t lose balance.
- One arm at a time rows with dumbbells 3×12. This is exactly like the standing rows but this time you hold with one hand onto something so your back is at a 45° angle almost, while you hold the dumbbell with the other hand and leave it pull your arm down and bring it back up squeezing your lats. The leg from the working side should be backwards stretched, while the leg from your resting side (the side you hold onto something) should be the leg that sustains your weight, so forwardly placed.
- Incline chest press with dumbbells 3×12. This exercise will now focus on the chest. You will need to incline your back onto something, whether is a bench or a seat, it will need to support your back inclined at a 45° angle. You will need to hold the dumbbells right above your shoulders with your arms fully extended. Lower both of them at the same time to the side of your chest, pause and then you press the dumbbells back up above your head shoulder width.
- Skull-crusher with dumbbells 3×12. This exercise will target your target your triceps. You will lay on the floor with your back straight and knees bent (this will make your belly more comfortable and not as tight when you will lift), with both dumbbells in your hands raise your arms above your chest with elbows straight but not locked. Lower both arms towards your head very slowly, bending your elbows and reaching a 90° while your dumbbells will reach/touch the floor.
- Bicep curls with dumbbells 3×12. A very self explanatory exercise. You can easily find instructions and videos for this in Google.
- Standing or sitting shoulder press with dumbbells 3×12. If you find it easier for your balance to sit, then do it. You hold the dumbbells shoulder width with your palms facing away from you, keep your midsection engaged and chest popping up, straight back looking straight. Press the weights up and above your head.
- Lateral raises with dumbbells 3×12. Grab weights with palms facing inward and letting them hang at your sides. This exercise can feel unnatural to many if you haven’t done it before. I recommend a 25° angle from your body’s midsection so you do not separate your arms too much away from your core, bend forward a little so your core doesn’t charge with everything and your back must be neutral and straight. Depending on how you lift, you might target your traps or shoulders more or less. Look into desired forms before you do this exercise.
I will not recommend any targeting abdominal exercises because these will depend a lot on your level of fitness prior to pregnancy, so to be safe, just do those exercises you feel familiar with.
You can adjust these as you wish, work with the weights you wish but remember to feel the contact still. You workout to strengthen the muscle and activate it, not to fool around.
It’s EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to know safe form and to practice form as much as you can, if you feel safer, you could hire a reputable PT for 1-2 hours to show you safe forms before you head into anything. And once again, remember to NOT PERFORM any new exercise while pregnant.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and if you did, let me know here in the comments section or in Instagram. Ask ahead if you have any doubts or questions and, don’t forget to share and check out the post I made about Strength Training For Women Before Pregnancy with latest studies and references.