If you're looking to work out while pregnant, especially in the third trimester, looking at all the exercises you can no longer do can be frustrating and disheartening.
The best workouts for abs would be great to develop your hips, lower back and core strength, all of which can help during pregnancy in general and the birth in particular, but crunching your stomach isn't exactly advisable right now. Fortunately, Kira Mahal, founder of personal training service and pregnancy specialists Motivate PT, is on hand with a bit of training advice.
She's highlighted three of the best moves for maintaining fitness and strength throughout pregnancy, all the way to the third trimester. Prenatal exercise "has heaps of physical and mental benefits... so it is something you should absolutely look to incorporate in your pregnancy journey" according to Mahal.
These three moves are a great starting point: all you need is a bit of floor space and maybe one of our best yoga mat entries to get started. For further reading, you can also check out our pelvic floor exercise routine for pregnant women.
Check out the three-move workout below:
1. Hip extension with the support of a chair.
Mahal says this simple move helps strengthen your hips, which can help prepare for labor. In addition, strong, flexible hips improves mobility when walking, running and squatting.
- With your fingertips gently placed on the top of a chair for support, lean your upper body towards the chair at an angle with a flat back.
- Starting on the left side, point the toe, extend the leg and gently kick the leg back and up, controlling the movement up and down.
- The other leg should be straight with a gentle bend in the knee to protect your joints.
- Raise and lower the left leg, tapping the ground gently each time. Repeat eight times on each side.
2. Kneeling Supeman
This is a great move for working those deep inner core muscles and strengthening the lower back, according to Mahal.
- Get into a box position on the floor on all fours, with a mat placed underneath your knees for comfort.
- Ensure your hands are underneath your shoulders, and your hips are in line with your knees. Use a mirror to check your positioning if you are not sure.
- Now imagine you are pulling up towards the ceiling as you engage your abdominals. And with a flat back and steady breathing raise the opposite arm and leg, fully extending.
- Hold for 2-3 seconds before slowly lowering. Repeat 8 rounds on each side.
3. Modified box plank
If you're missing a traditional plank move to build core and shoulder strength, this is a perfectly acceptable version for pregnancy – modified to incorporate your baby bump.
- Start on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Push your palms into the ground, roll your shoulders back and raise your knees only off the ground.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds before returning the knees back to the ground. Repeat 8 times.
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Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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