So, now that you’ve had a moment to digest the news that will rock your preggers world, I wanted to show you three ways you can add deep squatting into your prenatal fitness routine. The best part is, you need very little equipment, and you can do them in your living room! In fact, I demonstrated in mine.
1) Use an exercise ball to help you learn the movement
Start with your lower back against the ball, and the ball against the wall. Your feet should be about 25-30 degrees in front of your pelvis – this is so that, when you bend into your squat, your knees stay over your ankles and not in front of them. Your legs should be slightly externally rotated, into a position that feels natural to you. Bend your knees, aiming to bring your body to a straight vertical position, allowing your upper back and neck to roll onto the ball. Continue to push evenly into both feet, making sure your heels and toes equally carry your weight. Be sure that your knee caps are aiming directly over the second and third toe of your foot, trying to avoid internal rotation. Go as deep as you can support through the legs, keeping the core engaged by drawing the baby in towards your spine, and then engage your glutes (that means your BUM!) on the way back up. Aim for 10 repetitions, gradually increasing reps as you get stronger. And if you want a bigger challenge, you might add in a few arm exercises as you squat – say, anterior deltoid raises or an overhead press.
2) Use your arms to help you go deeper
Once you have the feeling for the squat, use your arms to hold something in front of you. This more closely mimics the position of squat without assistance – notice that my body is pitched forward a bit more. Meanwhile you want to try to keep your chest lifted, and your shoulders back to maintain the neutral alignment of the spine. In this example, I’ve used my coffee table for support, but that means that as I stand up, I won’t have anything to hold onto. If you notice that you have a hard time balancing, you may want to use something that you can hold throughout the motion. For example, I love doing these while holding onto the TRX suspension trainer, with a very light grip. The lighter the grip, the more you are training your lower body to perform the work. Always remember to fire the glutes as you stand up, and watch your knee-to-toe alignment.
3) Use a towel when you are ready to let go
If you need just a little support under those heels in order to hold your squat comfortably, go for it. A rolled-up towel or yoga mat works well. As you descend into your squat position, keep your back long and your chest lifted. When you arrive in the squat, you may put your elbows on the insides of your knees, and gently press into the legs. This will allow your hips to open and spread wider. Not only is this a great exercise for toning the lower body, but this is a great way to begin preparing yourself for labor and delivery. Try holding this position for a few deep, cleansing breaths, and as you exhale, visualize your body opening up from the inside out. When you are ready to stand up, push equally into the toes and the heels, feeling the muscles on both the front and back sides of your legs contract. As you approach vertical, engage the glutes a bit more, and lift up through the abdominals, aiming to bring your pelvis to neutral (though, it probably won’t make it all the way there! A slight anterior tilt to your pelvis is just fine in pregnancy, but try to support it with some muscle strength in the core and bum!).
Stay tuned for more glute and prenatal exercises to come on my Work It Out page!