Total Gym Workouts For Your First Trimester



Make it Through the First Trimester Whirlwind

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Wanting to workout, but exhausted? Hungry, but nauseated? Tired, but unable to sleep through the night? Welcome to the first trimester of pregnancy. I will have to say that the second time around is different. Some things did change but the up and down symptoms of my first trimester weren’t some of them. What has changed is now I have a 5 year old to chase after, a full time job, as well as way more knowledge about pregnancy related changes.

For some, the first trimester may be easy with no symptoms; however for the majority of us, nausea, emotional irritability, and fatigue are common. Exercise has helped many with these symptoms, but it may seem counter intuitive. Exercise has been shown to assist with combatting morning sickness, depression, as well as fatigue. The challenge becomes: what exercise is the best?

In the first trimester, you can typically maintain your current routine with some awareness about hydration, heat moderation, and heart rate. Once pregnant, your attention with your fitness turns more into wellness and prevention versus progressions and competition. I knew I could continue to run, jump, spin, weight train and play like I had been prior to conception, my challenge was how I felt did not match what I wanted to do. I typically wake up early and work out, as this is my opportunity of the day, but during pregnancy I would wake up and have to eat to prevent vomiting. I would have to warm up and walk for about 20 minutes before I even felt like running, and then I had to ensure there was a bathroom en route or I would have to slow down and catch my breath. So needless to say, the goal of the first trimester is to keep moving and be flexible with your routines.

Please note that a physician’s clearance is recommended before beginning a workout regiment.

Feel Good and Strong routine




[table class=”table table-striped”]
“Exercise”,Level,Recommendations/Modifications
Squats,12 (moderate intensity),”Stand over the glideboard and squat with the goal of touching the glideboard and really activating the gluteals/buttocks. If this is too easy, you can always move to a one legged squat.”
Bridge squats,12 (moderate intensity),”Press through the heels and focus on activating the cores.
If this is too easy, you can always move to a one legged bridge.”
Plyometric Jumps – both legs,7-12 (light to moderate intensity),”Level 7 will focus on more on the core. Here ensure that your lower belly is engaged. As you jump keep the belly button toward your spine. Level 12 will be greater focus on the strength.”
Side Planks Right,7-12 (moderate intensity),”Remember higher inclines are easier for this exercise.”
Side Lying Squats Right,7-12 (moderate intensity),”Ensure that the spine is aligned, as the common compensation is to flex the upper body and head allowing the back to round.
The top foot is at the lower corner of the squat stand. If there is any knee discomfort, then move the foot forward allowing the toes to hang off and focus on pressing through the heel.”
Pull Ups,7-12 (moderate intensity),”Focus on sliding the shoulder blades down the back to initiate this movement. Keep the top of the head toward the tower.”
Side Planks Left,7-12 (moderate intensity),”Remember higher inclines are easier for this exercise.”
Side Lying Squats Left,7-12 (moderate intensity),”Ensure the spine is aligned, as the common compensation is to flex the upper body and head allowing the back to round.The top foot is at the lower corner of the squat stand. If there is any knee discomfort, then move the foot forward allowing the toes to hang off and focus on pressing through the heel.”
Prone shoulder extension with or without upper back extension,3-9 (moderate intensity),”Initiate by dropping the shoulders away from the ears.”
Prone triceps kickbacks with or without upper back extension,3-9 (moderate intensity),”Maintain the elbows still in space and the shoulders pulling away from the ears.”
Seated Backward Wide Reverse Fly,3-9 (moderate intensity),”This is a hard exercise and the focus is activating the area between the shoulder blades. Focus here on keeping the shoulders pulling away from the ears, especially at the end of the motion. When I do not want to change the incline, I will straddle and self-spot and use my feet to assist the arms.”
Seated Backward Biceps Curl,3-9 (moderate intensity),”The further the arms are out in front of you, the more challenging the exercise.Visualize making an arc with the hands to assist in avoiding the elbows from dropping.”
Seated Torso Rotation Right,3-9 (moderate intensity),”The elbows bent into your sides will make this exercise easier. A common compensation is to lean back and/or round the spine. Focus on keeping the spine aligned and sitting on top of the sit bones.”
Seated Torso Rotation Left,3-9 (moderate intensity),”The elbows bent into your sides will make this exercise easier. A common compensation is to lean back and/or round the spine. Focus on keeping the spine aligned and sitting on top of the sit bones.”
Pullover Crunch,3-9 (moderate intensity),”As the trimester progresses, the abdominals are lengthening. The focus of this exercise is not how high you can crunch, rather controlling the arms in the pullover with a little crunch. Ensure the core is engaged. Performing a little crunch and only moving the arms will intensify this exercise and assist in avoiding over-flexing.”
Shoulder Adduction with Bridging,3-9 (moderate intensity),”While pulling the arms into the sides of the body, lift the hips up into a bridge. Option one is to lift and lower the hips with each repetition or to maintain a bridge and then focus on pulling the arms to the sides. If bridging is too easy, transitioning to a one legged bridge is a progression.”
Toe Taps or Marching with arms by sides or reaching up to the sky,3-9 (moderate intensity),”The arms by the sides of the body are easier versus reaching up for the sky.
Focus is on the core and maintaining neutral alignment of the pelvis, i.e. no rocking.”
“Gentle Stretching of hip flexors, hamstrings, Obliques, chest and back”,3-9 light intensity),”Focus on holding the stretch and breathing. Allow the body to feel a stretch, then gently relax into the stretch. Do not force anything.”
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Note that at the end of the first trimester, a hormone called relaxin surges in your system. This hormone is responsible for making the ligaments and connective tissue more pliable. Be cautious during this 11-13 week benchmark, and focus on form and avoid over stretching.


The Needing to Move Routine


[table class=”table table-striped”]
Exercise,Level,Recommendations/Modifications
Cardio Pull (squat with arm pulleys),12-20 (light to moderate intensity),Focus on just warming the body up and allowing the cables to stretch with upper body.
Supine Pullovers with or without bridging.,3 to 12 (light to moderate intensity),Keep the intensity at the lower end of moderate. Slide shoulders away from the ears.
Supine Triceps Press,3 to 12 (light to moderate intensity),Keep the intensity at the lower end of moderate. Elbows can remain by the sides of the body or for a greater challenge they can be pointed toward the sky.
Supine Arm Circles,3 to 12 (light to moderate intensity),Movement can be bilateral or unilateral. Keep the core engaged. Maintain the sensation of the shoulders sliding away from the ears throughout the movements.
Seated Forward Chest Press,3 to 12 (light to moderate intensity),Feet can be on the floor to self-spot. Focus on alignment and sitting tall.
Seated Forward Biceps Curl,3 to 12 (light to moderate intensity),”The arms are gently reaching behind the body, avoid over extending. Keep the elbows still in space.”
Seated Forward Overhead Press,3 to 12 (light to moderate intensity),”If you run out of cable, then perform the exercise unilaterally. A slight hinge forward at the hip may assist with balance challenges.”
Seated Backward Rowing (bilateral or unilaterally/single handle),3 to 12 (light to moderate intensity),Focus on sitting tall and engaging the core throughout the movement. Maintain the shoulders sliding away from the ears throughout the exercise.
Seated Backward Wide Fly,3 to 12 (light to moderate intensity},Focus on sitting tall and engaging the core throughout the movement. Careful to avoid pushing the lower ribs out in an attempt to sit tall. Maintain the shoulders sliding away from the ears throughout the exercise.
Squats Bilateral,9-22 (moderate intensity),Focus on full range of motion. Pressing throughout the entire foot.
One Legged Squats,9-22 (moderate intensity),”The stationary leg can be toe touching, into the chest or on the glideboard to assist with pelvic stabilization. To challenge pelvic control, bring the stationary leg to table top (90 degrees of bend at the hip and knee)”
Sprinter Start,3-9 (light to moderate intensity),”Focus on pressing through the entire foot, leg and buttocks. Exercise can be performed on your forearms or your hands.”
“Gentle Stretching of hip flexors, hamstrings, obliques, chest and back.”,3-9 (light intensity),”Focus on holding the stretch and breathing. Allow the body to feel a stretch, and then gently relax into the stretch. Do not force anything”
[/table]

Elizabeth Leeds, DPT

Elizabeth Leeds, owner of Seaside Fitness and Wellness, combines her background in physical therapy, personal training, and Pilates in her practice and teaching. As a pelvic floor physical therapist working at Comprehensive Therapy Services in San Diego, her passion for pregnancy and postpartum is seen in her mission to empower women with knowledge and understanding of their physical changes, and how to address them to prevent future issues.Additionally, Elizabeth is a Master Trainer and developer for Total Gym’s GRAVITY education.

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