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Nutrition & Exercise

Top 6 Pregnancy Exercises

Every mom wants to know the key to getting her pre-baby body back. Here's the secret… it actually begins during pregnancy! So, if your doctor gives you the thumbs up, try these six easy exercises.
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Move 1 (Step 1): Squats with Rotation

Why it's good: This workout is great for strengthening your booty and your core and getting your heart rate up! If you don't have a ball, you can use light 2-3 pound dumbbells, or omit working out your upper body altogether.

How to do it: Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders and slightly rotated. Squat as low as you can, while still feeling comfortable in your hips. Keeping most of your weight into your heels, stand up (exhale as you do) and rotate towards one side. Pretend you're trying to grow taller as you stand up straight and rotate again, lifting your back heel. Repeat by squatting back to the center and standing to rotate to the other side. Remember to always breathe deeply.

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Move 1 (Step 2): Squats with Rotation
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Move 1 (Step 3): Squats with Rotation
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Move 2 (Step 1): Arm and Shoulder Workout

Why it's good: It keeps your shoulders toned. We love that swapping your band for dumbbells will challenge your muscles in a slightly different way. Added bonus? You'll need strong shoulders when baby comes.

How to do it: If you have a resistance band, place it around your back and under your armpits. Be sure you have a good amount of resistance with the band. Slowly reach your arms out and forward, then slowly bring them back. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps. You'll feel your chest and shoulders working. To take it up a notch, grab a light pair of dumbbells (1 to 3 pounds or two soup cans from your cupboard!). With the same motion, face the palms of your hands facing the ceiling. Repeat 15 to 20 reps.

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Move 2 (Step 2): Arm and Shoulder Workout
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Move 3 (Step 1): Side Leg Lift

Why it's good: This exercise strengthens your midsection and outer thigh during your first and second trimester. Some moms-to-be can do it during the 3rd trimester, too — just be sure it feels good on your midsection. If you start to feel pulling, skip it until after baby.

How to do it: Lie on your side. Be sure you keep your elbow under your shoulder while drawing your shoulder away from your ear. Lift your hips and hold off the ground while you slowly lift your top leg, doing 3 to 5 leg lifts. Then, lower your hips back down and repeat for another 1 to 3 sets.

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Move 3 (Step 2): Side Leg Lift
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Move 4 (Step 1): Butt Lift

Why it's good: Keep that booty firm with these butt lifts — they're great during your first and second trimester, but you may have to skip it during the third trimester, unless you still feel good on your back. Plus, as your pregnancy progresses, you may need to limit your range of motion.

How to do it: Lying flat on your back, press your butt as high as you can go while still feeling good. Once in the air, do 10 to 20 small pulses, squeezing your glutes. Repeat for another 1 to 3 sets.

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Move 4 (Step 2): Butt Lift
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Move 5 (Step 1): Tricep Extensions

Why it's good: It targets those problem flabby arm spots!

How to do it: You'll need a pair of 3- to 10-pound dumbbells. Stand with your feet hip width apart, bend slightly forward and lean your chest forward. Keeping your elbows fixed at your side, slowly extend your arms all the way straight. Squeeze your triceps and hold for 3 seconds. Repeat for 10 to 20 reps.

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Move 5 (Step 2): Tricep Extensions
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Move 6 (Step 1): Forward Rolls

Why it's good: This exercise will leave your back feeling great! Plus, it helps strengthen your deep core muscles, including your pelvic floor and transverse abdominals.

How to do it: Kneeling, keep the exercise ball and your hands very close to your body. Engage your pelvic floor (i.e. do a kegel) and give your baby a little hug before you start moving. As you start to move forward, bend your spine. Tuck your chin under first and think about trying to press your back towards the ceiling as best you can.

Once you're parallel to the floor, let your belly relax a little (this opportunity to stretch slowly feels great!).Then engage your deep core muscles and move back up until you're straight.

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Move 6 (Step 2): Forward Rolls
By Erica Ziel, founder of Core Athletica Inc. is one of Southern California’s most sought-after experts for fitness-infused Pilates and personal training. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology & Health from Iowa State University and is a Certified Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor, Nutritionist and “Mom of 3″.