6 of the Best Exercises to Build Strength During Pregnancy

Regardless of your mileage while running for two, these moves will keep you strong before and after delivery.

A consistent running regimen during pregnancy is impressive, but an afternoon run alone is not enough to maintain your current level of strength. And in many cases, pregnant runners have a hard time pounding the pavement while they’re expecting. But there are a handful of exercises all pregnant women, especially runners, should do regularly to help with strength, posture and comfort in the later stages of pregnancy.

“One of the main things about all of these exercises is that they can be done no matter where you are in your pregnancy,” said instructor and personal trainer Kari Dougan. “These can be done throughout the entire time, whether you’re in your first, second, or third trimester.”

The goal of this set of moves is simply to preserve your current level of fitness by targeting areas such as the core and back while also working on your overall balance, all of which will help you stay strong during pregnancy (especially if you’re running). For example, the supported V-sit roll back will help during labor when you are in a similar position for a long period of time. Dougan emphasised the importance of women doing these exercises frequently, regardless of whether they are pregnant.

“Especially the kegel,” Dougan said. “That’s the number-one exercise that all women should be doing anyway.”

Perfect the five moves below, and you might be surprised how strong you really are – even as your body changes.

The Kegel

This exercise helps strengthen the pelvic-floor muscles to improve bladder control during and after pregnancy.  Your pelvic-floor muscles are what you’d use to stop urine midstream. Breathe normally as you tighten your pelvic floor muscles for 10 seconds, then relax them for 10 seconds. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions a day.

The Bird Dog

This exercise can help ease back pain and improve balance by strengthening your abs, back and butt muscles. Kneel in a quadruped position (on all fours) hands under your shoulders, knees under your hips. Inhale, then exhale as you lift your right arm toward the wall in front of you and lift your left leg straight back, foot flexed. Tighten your abs and squeeze your glutes. Breathe normally as you hold for 5 seconds and then inhale and exhale as you switch sides. Do three sets of eight reps on each side.

Supported V-Sit Roll Back

Keep your core strong with this easy move.  Sit up tall on the floor with your knees bent and your hands holding the back of your thighs. Inhale, then exhale as you slowly roll back to a V position until you feel your abs engage. Keep your chest open, pause for one second, and then slowly roll up. Do three sets of eight reps.

Ankle Alphabet

This exercise may help with swelling of the feet and ankles. Breathe normally as you use your ankle and foot only to trace the letters of the alphabet. This exercise can be performed in a seated or side-lying position. Do twice a day or more as needed. Bonus fun: try spelling out the baby names you are considering!

Chest Stretch

This exercise can help with posture and breathing. Stand up tall, abs and glutes tight, shoulders back and down. Lift your arms up, out, and back. Take five deep breaths as you feel the stretch in your chest muscles. Repeat as needed.

Band Pulls

Stand up tall, abs and glutes tight. Hold an exercise band out in front of you just below shoulder height, shoulder-width apart. Inhale, then exhale as you pull the band into your chest, drawing your elbows back. Inhale as you return to the starting position. Do three sets of eight reps.


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