5 Prenatal Pilates Moves For Strengthening Your Core and Glutes
Pregnancy is a fantastic time to prepare for the physical demands of labor and motherhood, and if you're expecting, you may be wondering what kinds of exercise to focus on and what's actually safe.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week, but it's important to remember that every body and every pregnancy is different. If you're pregnant, make sure to clear any new exercise program with your doctor before you start — even one that's designed for pregnant people, such as these Pilates moves for pregnancy from expert Pilates instructor and The Bump Plan founder Hollie Grant.
Of course, pregnancy is just the start of a long journey. Common parental accessories like car seats, strollers, and diaper bags — not to mention your baby — are heavy, so pregnancy workouts can be a way to train for "this upcoming endurance marathon," Grant says. She adds that it's essential to train some key muscle groups during pregnancy in order to help maintain good posture, reduce your risk of pregnancy-related lower-back pain, and ensure you're feeling strong when your baby (or babies) arrive. You'll want to focus on the glutes, upper-back extensors, transverse abdominis, and the pelvic floor — and the five exercises ahead are designed to target each one of them.
Best Prenatal Pilates Moves
Equipment needed: none
Directions: Perform these five exercises a few times a week. Read on for directions on how to do each exercise.
Clams are fantastic for maintaining glute function, Grant says, and the side-lying position is really comfortable during pregnancy.
- Lie on your left side with your knees bent to about 90 degrees and your feet in line with your tailbone. Make sure your hips are stacked and your spine is neutral (no arching or hunching).
- Inhale, and as you exhale, lift your right knee toward the ceiling, keeping the heels connected.
- Inhale as you slowly lower your knee back down with control. This counts as one rep.
- Complete 12 to 14 reps before switching sides.
Bend and Extend
Also called a Good Morning, this exercise keeps the glutes and hamstrings active while also challenging your back extensors, Grant says.
- Stand with your feet parallel and hip-width distance apart. Keep your knees soft, your pelvis neutral, and your shoulders relaxed, back, and down.
- Bring your hands into the prayer position at your chest.
- Inhale, and bow forward. Bend from your hips as far as your hamstrings will allow while maintaining a neutral spine. You don't want to go lower than hip height.
- Exhale to press your feet into the ground and slowly return to the start position. This counts as one rep.
- Repeat for 12 to 14 reps.
Grant says this exercise activates the transverse abdominis muscle and the pelvic floor, which are both important for core strength and spinal stability.
- Start on your hands and knees with your spine in a flat, neutral position. Allow your stomach to relax. Imagine a zipper running from your tailbone through your legs and along your bump, ending at your chest.
- Inhale to prepare, and as you exhale, imagine zipping yourself up. You should feel your glutes and abs engage and your bump rise up slightly.
- Inhale to release. This counts as one rep.
- Repeat for 12 to 14 reps.
This exercise helps strengthen your pelvic floor.
- Sit on the floor in a comfortable position with your spine neutral and your hands resting on your knees. Imagine there are two marbles underneath your pelvis.
- Inhale, and as you exhale, imagine picking up one of the marbles with your back passage (anus) and one with your front passage (vagina).
- Hold for up to 10 seconds, then gently release the marbles.
- Repeat for 10 reps.
Grant says that this move is great for the upper-back extensors, which are important for posture as well as for picking up and carrying your newborn.
- Sit on the floor in a comfortable position with your spine neutral and your eyes looking forward. Place your fingers on your temples with your elbows wide.
- Imagine there's a spider on the wall directly in front of you. Inhale and watch the spider climb up the wall toward the ceiling. As you take your eyes up, allow the spine to follow. Aim to lengthen your upper back without arching your lower back.
- Exhale to slowly return the spine back to neutral. This counts as one rep.
- Repeat for eight to 10 reps.