The Ultimate Toning Arms and Legs Workout for Pregnancy
This arms and legs routine, compiled by personal trainer and yoga instructor Teri Hanson, can be done throughout your pregnancy. Aim to do all of the exercises 3 times a week. Warm up by taking a brisk 5- to l0-minute walk; pump or swing your arms to warm up your upper body, adding arm circles if you like. When you’ve completed the workout, cool down by stretching your arms, back, and legs. Hold each stretch without bouncing for about 30 seconds; don’t overstretch.
Remember to consult your healthcare provider before starting this pregnancy arms and legs workout program.
1. Triceps Overhead Extension
Sit back in a chair with your feet flat on the floor so your upper back is gently touching the chair back. Cup a dumbbell vertically between thumbs and forefingers and hold it behind your head, elbows bent and pointed toward the ceiling. Pull your navel in toward your spine to keep from swaying; squeeze shoulder blades together while keeping shoulders down. Keeping elbows stationary, straighten your arms, lifting the dumbbell toward the ceiling. Lower arms to starting position and repeat.
Recommended weight: one 8- to 10-pound dumbbell. Do 2 sets of 10 reps, resting 1 minute between sets.
What it does for you: This move gives great shape to the back of your upper arms and shoulders (and it’s easy to do throughout your pregnancy).
Trimester tip: In the first trimester, you can do this standing; in your last trimester, place a pillow behind your back for support.
2. Biceps Curl
Sit on the edge of a chair, feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging by your sides so elbows are against your side, palms facing forward and wrists straight. Pull your navel toward your spine to help you sit up tall and keep your back from arching. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Keeping your elbows stationary, bend one arm, curling dumbbell toward your shoulder. Lower; then bend the other arm for one rep (a rep equals a curl with both arms).
Recommended weight: 5–10 pounds in each hand. Do 1–2 sets of 10 reps, resting 1 minute between sets.
What it does for you: This move tones and firms your arms and prepares you for lugging around a baby and all that gear.
Trimester tip: As your pregnancy progresses, you may want to sit further back in the chair and place a pillow behind your back for support.
3. Lateral Raise
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your body, and let your arms hang by your sides. Pull your navel toward your spine to help you stand tall. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back; keeping a slight arc to your arms, lift arms out and up to shoulder height. Slowly lower and repeat. Do 1–2 sets of 10 reps, resting 1 minute between sets.
Recommended weight: 3–8 pounds in each hand.
What it does for you: This move gives shape to your shoulders by strengthening your upper back muscles and teaches you how to maintain proper posture.
Trimester tip: In your second and third trimesters, sit in a chair and place a pillow behind your back for support.
Stand with your legs hip-width apart, hands on your hips. Pull your navel toward your spine to stand tall, tailbone pointing down to the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back. Keeping your body weight toward your heels, bend both knees, lowering hips to the floor as if sitting in a chair; don’t let your knees extend over your toes. Straighten legs to starting position, squeezing buttocks at the top of the lift to bring your hips back under your shoulders. Do 2 sets of 15 reps.
What it does for you: This move works all lower-body muscles at the same time and tones your thighs and butt.
Trimester tip: Hold on to the back of a chair for balance in the third trimester.
5. Standing Hip Lift
Stand with your right side to a chair. Hold on to the back for support and place your left hand on your hip. Shift your weight to your right leg so you are balanced without leaning; lift your left foot off the floor and slightly in front of the midline of your body. Keeping your hips and shoulders square, and without rotating your hips or shoulders, sweep your left leg up and out to the left. Return to starting position and repeat for reps; then switch sides. Do 2 sets of 15 reps.
What it does for you: This move strengthens and tones your upper hips and strengthens the hip rotators, which can help to prevent sciatica. It also helps to keep your hips stable as your pelvis expands and loosens in pregnancy (a response to the relaxin hormone).
6. Ballet Legs
Stand with your right side to a chair. Hold on to the back for support and place your left hand on your hip. Bend your left knee to rest your left foot against your right calf (position A). Extend your left leg out in front of you, then return to position A. Without leaning forward, extend your left leg behind you, squeezing buttocks; then return to position A. Repeat for reps; switch to other side. Do 2 sets of 15 reps on each leg.
What it does for you: This move helps to strengthen and tone your legs and butt; it also teaches you how to maintain balance as your belly grows.
- RELATED: The Best Pregnancy Exercise Classes