Work It Out

These mini-workouts will help you remain poised and fit through all stages of your pregnancy. You will feel your best if you supplement these workouts with 3-4 days of cardiovascular training a week, drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, and eat a balanced diet. Stay present in your workouts and listen to your body. Decrease the intensity of your pre-pregnancy workouts by about 15%. And most importantly, remember the three biggest guidelines: 1) Don’t start anything new during your pregnancy. If you’ve never been a runner, this is not the time to start! 2) Consult your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program  – now more than ever. 3) If you experience any pain, or if something “just doesn’t feel right” – STOP and consult your doctor. Doubt means don’t.

Remember – you must be the guardian of your own health – every woman, every pregnancy and every week is different. This is a magical time, when your body literally and figuratively takes on a life of its own. Trust the widsom of your body. Treat it well, and let it guide you through a happy, healthy pregnancy!

Workouts for the First 10 Weeks

During this stage, many women can still safely and comfortably lie prone on their stomachs, lie supine on their backs, and mobilize their spines. You may be suffering from nausea and/or extreme exhaustion; on days when you can’t muster the strength or energy to exercise, try doing the warm up exercises only. You may notice that your muscles fatigue much quicker than they did before, so take breaks as needed.

Back and Shoulders Workout:

Core Workout 1:

Core Workout 2:

Shoulder and Hip Workout:

Workouts for the Second Ten Weeks

At some point during this timeframe, your doctor will advise you to stop lying supine, or on your back. Lying on your back for prolonged periods of time will interfere with your body’s return of blood to the heart, by putting pressure on your Vena Cava. When your doctor tells you to stop lying on your back,  avoid the supine exercises all together. You may notice that during this timeframe your energy starts to return, but as always, don’t push yourself to exhaustion, and keep your body temperature reasonable. A good rule of thumb is: if you start to get visibly flushed in the face, take a moment to cool down, and drink water. As your body changes, don’t be surprised if an exercise feels good one day, and uncomfortable the next. Listen to your body, and modify as necessary.

Supine Core Work with Band:

Pre-Natal Yoga Workout: Morning Flow:

this workout can be done anytime during your pregnancy, as long as you are not experiencing any pain or discomfort.

Pre-Natal Seated Core Workout:

Workouts for the Third Ten Weeks

This is an exciting time in your pregnancy; you’ve probably felt the baby move by now, you are sporting a beautiful bump, and you may have even started working on your nursery! But it can also be a challenging time when it come to exercising. Moving may be getting a little more difficult as you carry more weight, your center of gravity shifts, and your posture changes. You may be experiencing new muscular sensations in and around the belly and hips, and perhaps even a few aches and pains. Exercising – moving in general – will most likely help you avoid, or at least reduce, discomfort; however you must remember that your body is changing rapidly. You may have more flexibility than normal – be careful not to overstretch. You may even need to reduce your range of motion during cardiovascular exercise! Expect that each day will start to feel different than the one before, and listen to your body’s signals. When you need to rest, rest. Your balance may be off – reduce the potential for injury by modifying your exercises as needed. Most importantly, shift your mindset. Remember that your primary goal is different now. It is not to burn calories, or lose weight. Your primary goal is to move safely, work at a moderate intensity, and use exercise as a way to stay strong and healthy, in body and mind. Overdoing it will not serve this goal, but rather set you back! So, take a few deep breaths, do a little moving, and enjoy the ride.

Prenatal Pilates – Yoga Fusion Workout:

*this workout is an hour long, and separated into three segments. You can do the whole hour, or pick and choose the segments you feel like on any given day.

Workouts for the Fourth Ten Weeks

You’re almost there now! Contrary to what many may think, you CAN stay active during this time, as long as your doctor, and your body, say it’s ok. Listen carefully to the signs that you may be overdoing it and adapt accordingly. Pay attention to how you feel AFTER a workout as well as during. Do your hips or back hurt afterwards? Perhaps next time you should scale it back. But if you feel good, there’s no reason why you can’t get your move on. Moving will help your circulation, your blood pressure, your stress response, and your sleep quality. Try not to get discouraged if you need to take it slow, take breaks, or feel your muscles fatiguing faster – whenever have you ever carried around a 20-40 pound dumbbell for the entirety of your workout? Pay close attention to your alignment and form, especially as you near the end of your pregnancy – your body is probably shifting in ways you don’t even realize.  A great bet is to focus on strengthening the abductors of the hips (outer thighs, outer hips and bum), working on one leg stabilizing exercises, deep squats, as well as upper body. Now is a great time to prepare yourself for carrying around a baby 24/7 – start strengthening those shoulders, back and arms!

Stack, Sculpt and Stretch:


8 thoughts on “Work It Out

  1. Pingback: Welcome to the Pelvic Floor Revolution, Part Two | Fit to Glow

  2. Firstly, I want to thank you for the very useful information you wrote here about lower back pain.
    I work as a professional fitness and pilates trainer| and I have met people with
    lower back issues. I myself had some issues with my back previously and I can tell for sure that
    physical activities will definitely help if you
    know methodologies or work with professionals

  3. Hi Saralyn i really love your workouts i wish i had discovered them before the third trimester tho! i’ve been doing the yoga fusion workout(the full hour) three times a week when i was able to since 25 weeks. i’m now 34 weeks and just started alternating between that one and the stack sculpt and stretch one. I have a funny bump on my bump on top of my belly button mainly when i’m in a crunched position. My doctor said that are my abs being pushed out, like a diastasis recti. I read that it can be worsened by certain exercises. Do you know if should modify your workouts? Is it possible that i have overdone them specifically the sitted part of the yoga fusion workout? Do you have any advice? I’m a pretty active person and i would like to have my body bad as soon as i can after my baby girl is born. Hopefully you will find 5 min in your busy mommy schedule to replay to this message. Thank you again.Veronica

    • Hi Veronica! Thank you so much for reaching out. I’m thrilled you like the workouts, and I’m happy to help. As for your questions, yes, please do modify (I’ll get to how in a minute). Your doctor is probably right – diastasis recti is fairly common in pregnancy, but it is very true that some exercises can make it worse. Here are some things you should avoid:

      -supine abdominal work (ie: crunches, and anything where you are lying on your back and curling)
      -over-extending the spine (like bending backward over an exercise ball)
      -bearing down, or any exercise that forces you to contract your abs so much that you hold your breath

      So you are probably saying, well, what CAN I do then?? First of all, you are 34 weeks in: it’s probably time to scale back the intensity of your workouts just a bit. Time to focus more on your arms, your legs, your balance, and your alignment. This exercise on my Alignment Matters page is a good way for you to continue activating your abs without straining them, causing the diastasis to worsen. Focus on your breath while performing it. Also, exercises like the ones in my Park Workout blog post can be helpful at this stage. I hope this helps. Let me know how it goes! ~ Saralyn

  4. Hello! Thanks you so much for your excellent work. you are saving my life (my lower back). I am 20 weeks of my second pregnancy, doing your exercises since the beginning, and, doing pilates since few months after birth. Because i had a lot of pain, i couldn’t even get up properly in the end. I have big bumps and babys, so i have 6 or 7 months old bump. I need help with 10 m exercise. i feel need to intensify exercises – because they relieve so much, but i am afraid of my standing in my back. my doctor will allow everything wise because she knew how i suffer last time, when no one wanted to take me for exercise (neither yoga, neither fisiotherapy, didn’t know pilates by then). I also have a almost 14Kg girl, who uses the floor as a working table, so i need to be up and down a lot. Can you give some advise, on my next weeks? (and i am almost 41, if it is important)
    thank so much
    sandra t.

  5. hi saralyn,
    came upon ur blog today…great blog by the way!!! I’m a 28yr old overweight female (73kgs and a height of 5’6″)….yes more on the obese side…I’ve been lazy and haven’t excercised much(hence the weight gain 😦 )…I’m pregnant now and in my 6th week….I saw ur workout videos and I’m hoping to start them tomorrow….there is one question I have though…if I exercise well enough can I reduce my weight to 65kgs at least post delivery…I don’t know whether its a stupid question…please help…looking forward to ur reply

    regards sarah

    • Hi Sarah, Not a stupid question! Weight loss is very much an individual journey. There are a lot of factors to consider, so I am reluctant to make any guarantees without meeting you. But I will say this: I know that if you dedicate time and effort and a positive mindset to making a big change, chances are you will be successful. I would suggest healthy nutritional choices even in your pregnancy. You don’t need a lot of additional calories when pregnant – maybe just one extra snack per day. Try to make your snacks healthy – healthy fats, healthy proteins, whole grains, and as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Investing in a nutritional coach now may give you a jump start to losing the post baby weight. Remain active, even walking is a good way to do that. You could invest in a pedometer and set a goal of how many steps you will take per day. Then, after you deliver the baby and the doctor gives you the clearance to exercise, perhaps a few sessions with a trainer will help you figure out an exercise plan you can do safely on your own. I am routing for you and I would love to hear updates! Best of luck! Thanks for reaching out!

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