One of the best discoveries of my pregnancy has been the exercise ball! As you know (and I talk about often), I’ve always taken a very traditional approach to my weight training regimen—old school exercises (squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups, etc), straight sets and a simple weekly split (Example: Monday = shoulders & chest, Tuesday = legs, etc.).
I would see the TRX straps, Kettlebells, BOSU balls and Exercise balls and keep walking. I certainly didn’t have anything against them, I just knew what I wanted to do with my physique, how I wanted to build it and what I needed to do in order to attain it.
Since becoming pregnant, I have tried to get more creative. I haven’t been lucky enough to breeze through my pregnancy with zero body pains (mostly joint pain) or fatigue. Both have been major issues for me, so I have had to improvise in a big way in order to maintain my muscle and have a healthy and fit pregnancy!
My second trimester was a breeze—tons of energy and some great workouts with very few limitations. Once I reached my third trimester, my major joint issues set in (mainly in my hips and sacroiliac joint) and my first trimester fatigue came back with a vengeance. So, in my third trimester articles, I wrote about my training alternatives and first introduced some of my non-traditional ideas in order to keep feeling great in the gym. Check these out:
Now, with the baby (we aren’t finding out the gender!) just a short few weeks away (according to our due date), it is more important than ever for me to make sure I feel good, keep stretching, protect my joints and that the baby has plenty of room while I do all of that.
I have two different sized exercise balls at home that allow me to get these exercises in anytime and give me an awesome workout!
Make sure you are using the correct sizes. If you are under 5’3”, you’ll do most of your exercises on the 55 & 65 centimeter balls. If you are over 5’3”, you’ll use the 65 and 75 centimeter balls (75 cm ball shown here).
A Few of My Favorite Exercises
Wall Squat for legs and butt
Place the exercise ball against your lower back and a sturdy wall. Keeping the weight in your heels, slowly squat down until your knees and hips are at a 90° angle. Peek down at your toes to make sure they are visible (to protect your knee alignment). If they are not, make sure to walk your feet out a bit more until you can see them. You can stay right here and practice timed holds, or you can move up and down for reps!
3-4 sets of 60-second holds or
3-4 sets of 20 reps
Warrior or Chair Pose Shoulder Strengthener for entire body
Carefully get into a Warrior pose or Chair pose with legs wide (to give the belly room) and position the ball in front of you on the ground. Bend over and grab the ball with both hands. Keeping your spine and arms straight and extended overhead, slowly lift the ball up until your arms form a straight line out from the spine. You should have one straight line from your tailbone out through your fingertips. Hold this as long as you can! If you performed this using the Warrior pose, make sure to repeat on the opposite leg.
3-4 sets of 60-second holds
Push-Ups for chest, arms and back
Facing a wall, hold the exercise ball against the wall with your arms extended straight out and palms flat against the ball and level with your chest. Keeping a straight line from your heels out through the top of your head (don’t dip your hips!), slowly bend your elbows and perform a push-up into the ball. Try to keep your elbows as close to your body as possible (it’s hard!) and stay steady on your way up.