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The Best Prenatal Workouts

  • June 17, 2014
  • By Brittany
The Best Prenatal Workouts

So when the Hubs and I were driving home from Cape Cod this weekend I drank four glasses of water right before we left the house.  I was very thirsty after the beach you see and didn’t want to become dehydrated.  Of course I made sure to use the restroom before we left but I knew that I was on borrowed time.  We were driving along and I snoozed for a bit.  I woke up and felt like I kind of might need to use the restroom, however, the Hubs suggested we wait until the first main rest stop off of 95 to stop and get some dinner.  I figured I could wait until then.  I have been known to do this entire trip without needing to stop once!  That was at about 7pm.  Of course neither of us were quite certain where exactly in CT the first main rest stop was… 

At 8pm I thought I was going to die.  Luckily our GPS showed a rest area in about 4 miles.  Hallelujah!  We are almost there.  And then came the dreaded sign: “Rest Area Closed for Renovations.  Next rest stop 14 miles.”  Whaaat!?  At this point I needed some major distraction.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: “What are you going to have for dinner?”
Hubs: “Answer (I could have cared less at that point if he said he was having filet mignon or chopped liver.).

Me: “How much longer?”

Hubs: “It’s been 4 minutes since we passed the sign.  So maybe another 10 minutes?”

Me:   “Do you have a busy day at work tomorrow?”

Hubs:  Some answer that I didn’t listen to?

Me: “How much longer?”

Hubs:  “It’s been 5 minutes, so probably another 9 minutes.”

And so on and so forth.

After what felt like an eternity, we pulled into the rest stop and the Hubs dropped me off at the steps.  I ran inside to find a sign outside the ladies room “CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE.”  What!?!?  Luckily there was a single family restroom available for the entire line of ladies stopped at this rest area.  I almost started to cry.

Eventually I just walked into the ladies room and told the man in there that I couldn’t wait, I was pregnant and basically I didn’t care.  What a trip.  And for the record we could’ve have stopped earlier, I’m just a clean freak and like these big rest stops because they are generally really clean and you don’t have to actually get off the highway.

On to today’s topic: Prenatal Workouts!  Gone are the days when women were told to sit on their behinds and wait for baby to come.  These days, women are encouraged to be active not just for their health but the health of their baby.  In fact, according to my lovely pregnancy books, women who are active before pregnancy can and should try to maintain their level of activity during pregnancy.  For women who are not active, adding in some light activity is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged.

Although exercise is encouraged, I’ve found that my ability to do a lot of the same workouts I did before pregnancy has changed a lot.  During your first trimester especially, you can maintain most of your fitness activities.  I tried a HIIT workout and found out pretty quickly that it was just too intense for me.  Here are a few of my favorite prenatal workouts that have been keeping me going!

1.      Zumba– By favorite form of pregnancy cardio, Zumba is perfect because you can adjust the moves to suit your level of activity.  Zumba uses very few jumping moves, which means you usually have at least one foot on the ground making it a safe and effective form of cardio.  My heart rate generally ranges between 140-165 bpm, which is significantly lower than my usual 170-180 bpm for my pre-pregnancy cardio activities.  It’s perfect because I never feel too winded but I’m still getting a great cardio workout and using all parts of my body (legs, arms, chest, back, head, torso), which keeps me from feeling too stiff in any one area.

During my first trimester I didn’t feel comfortable attending classes so I have been sticking to Zumba videos at home, usually Zumba Incredible Results, Exhilarate, Zumba Wii (affiliate link) or ZIN (instructor) videos.  I’m game to try a class soon but I know my heart rate tends to be higher in live classes than videos so I’ll have to work out some modifications.


2.      Walking– Running is actually a perfectly acceptable form of exercise for pregnant women provided you were a runner pre-pregnancy.  I went for a run once with the Hubs but I’ve never been a huge runner and now with the weather getting warmer, I don’t see it happening much in my future.  Walking, however, is a different story.  I am aiming to walk home from work as much as possible this summer, which takes me just under an hour.  It is moderate cardio and perfect for getting the blood flowing.

3.      BodyPump–  This one probably seems completely counterintuitive since it involves lifting heavy weights but actually BodyPump is perfectly safe to continue throughout pregnancy.  Plus weight lifting helps with help keep you strong for when you are toting around that cute babes or more accurately, all that heavy gear.  The key to BodyPump is to drop down your weights slightly so you are never straining and to make adjustments for your belly as needed.  Also, now is not the time to increase weights so never lift more than what you lifted before pregnancy.

Pump 13

4.      Barre– My favorite prenatal workout!  Barre classes are less about modifying to accommodate for your pregnancy and more about what you can and should be doing to support your pregnancy.  I am thinking of doing an entire post on this topic alone because I love barre so much!  But a few benefits include strengthening your pelvic floor, maintaining tone and muscle strength in your legs in arms, safely stretching and maintaining a strong core without harmful abdominal crunches.

5.      Yoga– Yoga is almost synonymous with prenatal workouts and for good reason.  Yoga not only helps pregnant women with strength and flexibility but it can also address pregnancy side effects like fluid retention, sciatica, sore hips and much more.  While those accustomed to fast-paced vinyasa classes may find the change of pace difficult to get used to, it’s nice to just relax and stretch considering all the hardwork you body is doing.

lole white tour9

6.      Circuits–  I’ve found 60 minutes of cardio to be a bit too challenging for me now that I’m pregnant. Circuits offer a mix of cardio and strength and is the perfect solution for getting in enough cardio but still allowing some rest in between cardio bursts.  Plus, alternating between cardio and strength segments ensures a total body workout and kills two birds with one stone.  Circuits are also great because you can make modifications as necessary to accommodate your level of fitness.  

7.      Pilates– Another one that seems counterintuitive because we usually associate Pilates with intense core work, but in fact Pilates has a lot to offer if done correctly.  I recommend seeking out a prenatal specific class to ensure you are doing moves that are safe for pregnancy.  A prenatal Pilates class will teach you how you can work your core, pelvic floor and back muscles, all of which need to be strong to carry the baby and for childbirth.  Plus, Pilates is great for toning legs and arms.  Since it is a low impact activity, you won’t need to worry about jumping or moves that may be uncomfortable later in your pregnancy.

I’ll be doing another post soon on modifications for pregnancy that will hopefully shed some more light on how these workouts and other non-pregnancy-specific workouts can work for you.  So make sure to check back soon

*NOTE- Every pregnancy is different and everyone, fit or a newbie, should check with their doctor before starting any exercise program.  These are merely suggestions based on my own experience.

Readers, what are/were your favorite prenatal workouts?  Have you ever had a restroom saga?  What’s your favorite workout right now?

By Brittany, June 17, 2014
  • 18
  • Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat
    June 17, 2014

    So your bathroom story is totally something that would happen to me! I’m a peeing machine these days! Ugh!

    I agree with all these forms of exercise! I’ve been doing pilates, Zumba, yoga and bought a barre prenatal workout DVD that I’m really enjoying. That DVD is the first time I’ve tried barre, but I’d definitely like to continue with it. I’d love for your to do an entire post on that topic since it’s a workout that is fairly new to me.

    • FitBritt
      June 18, 2014

      Me and you both Holly! 🙂

      I love barre when I’m not pregnant but I’m convinced it’s one of the best forms of prenatal exercise. I’m definitely going to do a separate post on it!

  • Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
    June 17, 2014

    AH yes, I’ve had multiple restroom sagas similar to yours! A couple of months ago when we were driving from the San Fran area down to San Diego to look for houses, I thought I was going to pee my pants (no joke!) when we were around the L.A. area stuck in traffic. Although I could tell it wasn’t a good area, we got off of the highway anyways…. and proceeded to stop at at least FIVE restaurant/Subway type of places looking for a bathroom. In case you didn’t know, ghetto areas tend to not allow people to use their bathrooms because they trash them (classy, I know!). I finallyyyy found a gas station store with a bathroom….and it had a sign on it saying that it was closed. I almost cried! And then I complained to the person working there, who fortunately opened the bathroom up for me. Phew, those moments can be dire!! And I’m not even preggers hahaha

  • Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit
    June 17, 2014

    I have the tiniest bladder, ever, and try to hold it on trips, but eventually its so unbearably bad that we have to stop and I basically sprint to the bathroom. I can imagine your frustration!

    • FitBritt
      June 18, 2014

      What is even more frustrating is I used to be really good before I got preggers! I could make it for hours without going. Now I’ll never yell at my husband again when he tells me he has to use the restroom 30 minutes after we leave the house!

  • Cailee Joy @
    June 17, 2014

    Haha!! That is sooooo funny!! Good for you for just telling the guy! Haha… when you gotta go… you gotta go! And you have a REAL excuse!! Haha

    • FitBritt
      June 18, 2014

      Plus, it is so ridiculous to have the women’s room in a rest area closed on a Sunday afternoon in the summer!

  • Melanie @ Happy Being Healthy
    June 18, 2014

    Oh my gosh, I LOVE your restroom story and I can SOOO relate! We just went on a road trip a few weeks ago and I had to stop a ton! It was pretty crazy.

    I love all of your prenatal exercise information. I tried to run as long as I could, but had to stop a couple months ago because it just didn’t feel right. I’ve been sticking to walking and weight lifting. So far, so good! You look adorable, btw.

    • FitBritt
      June 18, 2014

      It’s funny but I thought weight lifting would be so hard and cardio would be easier but I actually find it to be the reverse!

  • Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness
    June 18, 2014

    Oh man, I remember those “Get out of my way I have to pee!” days. Great list of workouts! It is so important to stay active during pregnancy. I know too many women who just stop doing anything once they become pregnant.

  • Lisa @ Lulus Big Adventure
    June 18, 2014

    Barre and yoga sounds like such awesome exercise for pregnant women. Well, so do the other ones but I really want to try barre haha. Someday soon!

  • Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama
    June 18, 2014

    Definitely perfect pre natal workouts!! I wish I knew about bodypump when I was pregnant, it really is the perfect activity. I know those potty stories too well. I have a 40 minute ride home and boy if there were delays I was in trouble!!

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