Fitness in the Third Trimester: Congratulations, You Can Still Move

Hello interwebs and Happy Tuesday!  Well, it’s official – Danon and I will not be having our Leap Day baby, but WOW is that due date coming up fast!

Before I launch into today’s topic, let’s chat about how things have progressed with the lil one in these final weeks of pregnancy.

Food cravings?  Aversions? The cravings are not nearly as bad as they were in the second trimester, and no aversions to report, but for the past few weeks I have been dealing with god-awful, wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night heartburn.  Combine the heartburn with the fact that Nugget is crushing my lungs, and I have been making these random horrible involuntary loud gasping noises that scare the absolute shit out of Danon (especially when performed in the middle of the night).  I figured out that dairy is the worst culprit for the heartburn, so I have cut almost all dairy out of my diet.  I mitigate the devastation caused by my lack of ice cream and cheese with the fact that Tums are a lifesaver, I’m in the home stretch, and this isn’t forever.

Help

Weight gain? I’m going to end up at about 30 lbs. of weight gain, and that is just fine by me.  I’m happy to report I maintained a steady fitness regimen throughout my pregnancy, ate somewhat healthy, indulged my cravings, and rested when I needed to rest.  And as of right now, all signs are pointing to a healthy (albeit large) baby.

Any Signs of Labor? Sigh, none yet! As many of you saw on Facebook and IG, Danon and I attempted the Doritos method of labor induction, and I’m sorry to say this was unsuccessful.  Delicious…but unsuccessful.  I tried to speed things along with super spicy food, and although also delicious, all this did was give me a very, very rough morning the next day.    I’ve got a fridge full of pineapple and a labor inducing massage all lined up, so we’ll see how that goes.  And I know, I know…baby will come when baby is ready to come, but hey, all this stuff cant’t hurt!  OK, except the spicy food thing…that shit hurt…baaaaaaad.

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If delicious Cool Ranch Doritos can’t lure Nugget out of my uterus, I don’t know what can!

So let’s get down to the meat of this post – fitness in the third trimester…or, as I like to call it: “You walked from the couch to the fridge!  Good for you!”  Suffice to say exercise is more of a challenge these days – “do-able” exercise options are dwindling, and quite frankly there are some days where I am just too wiped out to hit the gym or the weights.  But I have been getting in at least 4 days/week of moderate intensity exercise, and I try and do something every day, even if it’s just taking the pups on their morning and evening walks.  Something is always better than nothing.

And as always, here is my disclaimer before I get into some of the specific exercises and workouts I have been doing…when it comes to pregnancy and exercise, always heed the advice of your doctor, NOT some random blogger.  And that being said, this blog post should be used as a resource for information and ideas on appropriate third trimester exercises, it should NOT be taken as gospel, or used as a basis for comparison.  If an exercise hurts or is uncomfortable, don’t do it or modify.  If your doc says no more exercise, don’t exercise.  Just because Blogger X ran a half marathon at 36 weeks doesn’t mean you can too.  You do you boo.

Also, just a little pearl of wisdom here – you can choose to take it or leave it.  I have written in previous blog posts about fitness in the first and second trimesters here, herehere and here.  And I have stated over and over to stop when your body tells you to stop.  Pregnancy is not the time to “push through the pain”.  BUT, in the third trimester, I have learned to stop before your body tells you to stop.  For me, personally, when I waited for my body to say stop, I ended up a useless lump for the rest of the day.  So lately I have utilized the “quit while you’re ahead, Rachel” mantra.

OK, here goes – so I AM an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer.  I can say with confidence that all of these exercises are third trimester and nugget appropriate.  In the third trimester, it’s not advised to perform exercises that specifically isolate the core muscles.  Sit-ups, planking and the like are all extremely difficult at this stage of pregnancy to begin with, and they can also put significant strain on an already strained and stretched abdominal area.  Therefore, many of these exercises are done on a balance ball or Bosu ball in order to indirectly stimulate and engage the core muscles while working out without straining them.

Bicep Curls on the Balance Ball

Sit on the balance ball with a free weight in each hand.  Straighten out your back as much as possible and engage (tighten) your core.  Perform the bicep curls.  If you like hammer curls better, do those instead.

Chest Fly on the Balance Ball

Start off sitting on the balance ball with a free weight in each hand and lean backwards – scootch yourself forward until your back is parallel to the floor and the balance ball is supporting your middle back.  Tuck your booty, and engage your core.  Your head and neck should be engaged so that they are in line with your spine, NOT leaning back onto the ball.  Start off holding the weights above your chest, arms as straight as possible without locking your elbows and palms facing eachother.  Extend the arms outward, keeping the palms facing eachother, elbows slightly bent until you feel resistance of the ball against your upper arms.  Bring your arms back up.

Chest Press on the Balance Ball

Start off the same way you would for a chest press, except your palms are going to be facing outward.  Start bending your elbows until they are at about 90 degree angles and you feel the ball on the backs of your arms.  Press back up.

Weighted Cross-Body Punches

Do I really need to explain this one?

Incline Pushup

OK, I know I said no pushups, but the incline angle on this pushup exercise puts way less strain on your abs than being in a standard pushup position does, and it’s still a great arm/chest workout.  Perform this exercise on any apparatus that puts you on an incline angle – a railing, a bench, a wall.  Just ensure that throughout the pushup exercise, your body stays in a nice straight line, your booty stays tucked in, your core is engaged and you are not tucking your chin into your chest.

Static (Weighted) Lunges on Bosu Ball

Adding weight on this one is optional.  Place your toes of one foot on top of the bosu ball right on the bulls eye in the center of the ball.  Scootch your front foot forward until it’s just in front of your center of gravity.  Straighten out your back and engage your core muscles.  Lunge for x reps.  Repeat same amount of reps on other side.  Try not to lean forward when you are in the lunge – since your center of gravity is very shifted these days, this will be harder than usual.

Seated Shoulder Press

Sit on the balance ball with a free weight in each hand.  Straighten out your back as much as possible and engage your core.  Perform the shoulder press.  Remember at the peak of the shoulder press, do not lock your elbows and try and keep that back as straight as possible.

Seated Triceps Extension

Sit on the balance ball with a free weight in each hand.  Straighten out your back as much as possible and engage your core.  Perform the triceps extension.  Remember at the peak of the extension, do not lock your elbows and try and keep that back as straight as possible.

(Weighted) Squat on Bosu Ball

Adding weight on this one is optional and up to you.  Stand up straight on the bosu ball.  Slowly perform squats.  This one is tricky to perform and keep proper squatting form because of that lil’ ol’ 20-plus pounds of baby and other stuff throwing off your center of gravity.  So take your time with this – keeping proper form is more important than adding weight.  I have included front and side images of proper squat form, and remember – your belly may preclude you from down very deep in your squat, so do the best you can.

Sumo Squat with Chest Press

Adding weight for a chest press is optional on this one, but if you choose to add weight, you can use a kettlebell, medicine ball, single free weight, your toddler, whatever.  Position your feet slightly wider than hip width apart and turn your toes outward.  Hold the weight steady and at your chest.  Sumo squat down – as you come back up from your squat, push the weight upward above your head into a chest press.

Tricep Kickbacks

I normally don’t like these because they place a lot of unnecessary strain on your elbows, and there are far better tricep exercises out there.  Normally, my favorite tri exercise is tricep dips, but these are an adequate alternative if those hurt your wrists (as they do with a lot of my clients).

So how do you put some of these together into an effective workout?  Here are a couple sample workouts I have done for my fitness sessions.

That’s all I have for today!  I’ll try and post some more exercises and workouts early next week if I am not in labor (eek!).  I would love to hear your feedback in the comments section!

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