Macy Pruett (@fittestcore) has been a certified person trainer for nearly a decade. Her combined passions for people and building relationships + fitness led her to creating her dream career in the fitness industry. She’s trained one-on-one with over 50 personal clients, taught hundreds of group fitness classes, and now runs her app, Fittest Core, which provides pregnancy-safe, postpartum, & general fitness workout programs and hundreds of workout videos.
When it comes to pregnancy, moving your body is one of the very best things you can do for yourself and your baby. As a certified pre/postnatal trainer, I like to encourage all moms to view movement during pregnancy as “training for motherhood,” because that’s exactly what it is! As mothers, we constantly squat, bend, push, pull, carry, and twist all day with our normal daily activities. So training during pregnancy can, and will, only help us during motherhood.
Why are Prenatal Exercises Beneficial?
Prenatal maternal exercise benefits you by promoting a positive self-image, reducing back pain, increasing energy, strengthening muscles in preparation for labor, improving posture, promoting healthy weight gain during pregnancy, helping lose the baby weight after your baby is born, and more. The benefits extend beyond physical well-being and encompass emotional and mental wellness as well. During pregnancy, the exercise we do keeps our bodies strong, helps us handle the changes occurring in our bodies—which can help us during labor and delivery (hello, faster deliveries!)—and directly impacts our postpartum recovery in a positive way.
Of course, no mom should begin prenatal exercise without the clearance from her doctor to do so. But for those moms who have heard, “If you’ve never worked out, don’t start when you’re pregnant!”…they can take that with a grain of salt. Even if you’ve never been one for fitness, pregnancy is still the best time to start, as long as you are following a pregnancy-safe program or guide created by a certified pre/postnatal trainer.
What Types of Exercise Should You Perform?
When it comes to a beneficial prenatal workout guide, we want exercises to focus on functional movements that translate directly into motherhood. For example, all moms should be able to correctly perform a deadlift, because we deadlift throughout our days when we bend over to pick up our children, clean up toys, pick up the laundry basket, etc. We also want exercises that help us strengthen and relax our pelvic floor, guide us on correct alignment and posture, teach proper breathing, utilize correct deep core connection and breath work, and finish with birth prep. Because, again, we are training for motherhood.
So for a well-rounded and effective prenatal workout, we want to be combining all of the above. My ideal prenatal workout, and one that comes from my Training For Motherhood prenatal program, is described below.
Exercises for Effective Prenatal Workouts
RDL’s (Romanian Deadlift): This exercise is included because it’s a movement we make every day as moms. Do this for a strong posterior chain that can support your daily movements as a mom.
Side Lying Hip Lift with Ball Squeeze: Training our adductors (inner thigh muscles) can help aid in pelvic floor function. Adductors play a role in stabilizing the pelvis and helping us find internal rotation, which helps maintain a good range of motion of the pelvis to help you during labor. It can also help keep aches and pains at bay. We need these muscles to be flexible and strong during pregnancy and into postpartum.
Paloff Press: A staple in my pregnancy safe workouts! Keeping our deep core stable and strong is crucial for full body movements and strengthening the pelvic floor, and will help postpartum as well.
Straight Arm Lat Pulldown: Lat strength is great for pelvic stability and keeping our growing center of gravity in check. So important!
Hip Thrusts: Strong glutes are KEY to stabilizing your pelvis, supporting your pelvic floor, and can help in reducing hip and back pain. Not to mention, we mostly gain weight in our glutes and thighs, so why not put some work into pumping up that extra weight?!
Single Arm Rows: A strong back is what can help us keep correct alignment and posture when our body is growing and changing. Unilateral exercises are a bonus, as they address imbalances and compensations.
To put the above moves all together in a workout, I suggest completing 2-4 sets of each exercise, with 8-12 reps of each move. I give a fairly wide range of reps and sets because this will depend on how you feel each day, and within each trimester. You’ll find that you have more energy during the second trimester and can perform more exercise during those weeks. All of these exercises are generally safe through the entire pregnancy.
If you are an expecting mama (congrats!!) and looking for a prenatal workout program to train you safely and confidently through your pregnancy, my Training For Motherhood program is a fantastic one—and the one I’ve been doing myself through my pregnancy! You can join me, Fittest Core, as I train for motherhood.