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Pregnancy Squats

How to perform this popular lower body strength exercise safely during all three trimesters.

If you've ever taken a group fitness class, then you've probably done a squat... or 900. This functional movement is one of the best exercises to do throughout your pregnancy to prepare for labor.


The squat works your largest muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core. These muscles are all used during labor and delivery, so making sure they are conditioned properly could help you through every push, and your postpartum recovery.


In addition, an interesting hormone called relaxin is produce during pregnancy. Its primary goal is to make relax your joints to allow your pelvis to expand. Because stability decreases as flexibility increases, it is important for pregnant mamas to maintain muscular tone and strength to prevent excessive aches and pains, or injuries, throughout your pregnancy.


Read on for tips on how to set up, modify, and amplify your squat safely through all 3 trimesters.


Note: Be sure to discuss all intended exercise programs with your doctor before starting anything new.


First Trimester Squats

You might not have to modify quite yet, but you should focus on building stability as relaxin begins to loosen things up.

  • Place heels shoulder-width apart. Toes can be slightly turned out.

  • Hinge hips back like you're sitting into a chair. Reach arms out in front of you, keep chest lifted, and your spine neutral.

  • Lower until thighs are parallel to the floor, or as far as you can go without flexing your spine (hunching over).

  • Press into feet to come all the way back up to standing.

  • Repeat for 3 sets of 10-15 squats.


Second Trimester Squats

Incorporate these modifications to accommodate your growing belly.

  • Stand with heels shoulder-width apart, or slightly wider if that feel more comfortable with your growing belly and pelvis. Toes can be slightly turned out.

  • Hinge hips back like you're sitting into a chair. Reach arms out in front of you, keep chest lifted, and your spine neutral.

  • Lower until thighs are parallel to the floor, or as far as you can go without flexing your spine, and knees are stacked over feet.

  • Pulse at the bottom of your squat 5-10 times, only moving 1-2 inches up and down.

  • Press into feet to come all the way back up to standing.

  • Repeat for 3 sets of 3 squat pulses.


Third Trimester Squats

Build lower body strength and stamina to prepare for one of the hardest workouts of your life- labor.

  • Place your heels a little wider than shoulder-width apart- you might be in more of a sumo squat. Toes can be slightly turned out.

  • Hinge hips back like you're sitting into a chair. Reach arms out in front of you, keep chest lifted, and your spine neutral.

  • Lower until thighs are parallel to the floor, or as far as you can go without flexing your spine, and knees are stacked over feet.

  • Hold the bottom of your squat for 20-30 seconds.

  • Press into feet to come all the way back up to standing.

  • Repeat for 3-5 sets of 20-30 second squat holds.



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