I was trying to decide what type of workout I should do this week, when I remembered how much I used to love circuit training sessions. Circuit training workouts are TOUGH and for a second I thought, I don’t think I can get through it…but as soon as I heard my brain say it, I had to try it. And as soon as I finished, I felt like I could conquer the world, as you can see by this text I sent my husband:
So be warned, don’t try this workout unless you want to walk around the rest of the day feeling like a badass mama. (And of course unless you have your doctor’s permission.)
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Circuit Training – moving quickly between supersets with no rest until 3 large muscle groups have been exercised, with 2 minutes of cardio in between each group. Each muscle group is pushed to failure through two strength training exercises, which are performed at 12 reps each back to back followed by 2 minutes of cardio. There is a 2 minute rest after all three muscle groups have been worked, and then the whole thing is repeated 1-2 more times. Choose weights that are challenging for you. Can be done at home or at the gym. Here is a more detailed explanation of circuit training.
Bent Over Rows – Stand with feet shoulder width apart, holding your bar, dumbbells, or sandbag. Lean over, keeping your back straight, and lift your weight up to your chest. Lead with your elbows, as if someone were pulling them up with a string.
High Pulls – Stand with feet a little more than shoulder-width apart, like you’re preparing for a squat, that is wide enough to accommodate your belly. Hold your weight, kettlebell, or dumbbell with two hands in front of you. Squat down, touch the weight to the ground, and quickly stand up while pulling the weight up to your chin quickly, elbows straight out to the sides.
Squats – Hold dumbbells either at your shoulders or in front of you, wherever is most comfortable. Spread your feet to wider than shoulder-length apart, with room to accommodate your bump. Sit down into your squat, leaning back into your heels, keeping your back straight, until your knees are in a 90 degree angle. Don’t lean forward, and make sure your knees do not go past your toes.
Step Ups -Holding dumbbells, step up onto a bench, step, or chair with one leg, step back down with the other leg. Repeat on the other side.
Tricep Kick-backs – lean over on a bench or chair, holding on with your resting arm and knee for balance. Bend your arm so the top is even with your back, elbow tucked in at your waist and at a 90 degree angle. Straighten your arm, using your tricep to pull the weight up towards the ceiling.
Bench Dips- Using a dip station, chair or bench, face away from the edge, putting your hands behind you onto the edge of the bench, about shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet forward until your arms are supporting most of your weight. The further out you walk, the tougher the dip will be. Bend your elbows and lower your body, using your triceps, until your elbows are at about a 90 degree angle. Push your body back up until arms are straight again, this is one rep. Don’t hunch your shoulders as you dip.
Cardio – You can choose any cardio movement here. I always liked jumprope, but you could also hop on a treadmill and run or walk, do high knees, run in place, do jumping jacks, burpees, box blasts, etc. For this workout I chose agility drills on our speed ladder.
Start with a 5 minute warm up. I do dynamic stretching (stretching while staying moving, unlike static stretches where you hold the stretch), progressing to some jumping jacks and high knees.
*Note-For a true circuit training workout, try not to take a break until you have completed all 3 sets — go straight from exercise to exercise. Of course, you’re pregnant, so if your body says take a break, take one!
Each Round (3 sets) took me about 15 minutes. I did 3 rounds for a total of 45 minutes.
End with a 10 minute stretching cool down. I like to stretch out my arms, then my hamstrings, my inner thighs, my quads, and then perform a few sun salutations. I also add in cat/cow to stretch out my back and hips, and end in child’s pose.
For beginners or later in pregnancy:
Reps/Rounds – perform 8 or 10 reps instead of 12, or do 1 or 2 rounds instead of 3
Bent Over Rows, High Pulls, and Tricep Kick Backs– use less weight
Squats and Step-Ups – use body-weight only
Tricep Dips – Bend your knees and pull your feet towards you to make the dip easier
Anaerobic Strength/Circuit Training – Provides you and your baby with additional oxygen over the next 24-48 hours, builds and strengthens muscles and joints that can become weak and cause aches and pain. Regular intense exercise helps baby become accustomed to stress, which will help him tremendously during labor and delivery.
Bent Over Rows/High Pulls – strengthens back muscles for better posture and reduction of back pain
Squats and Step Ups– Squats are essential in preparing your body for childbirth by strengthening and stretching your child-birthing muscles, and also build core strength for supporting your growing uterus and stretching hip joints. Squatting also helps to prepare your perineum for stretching during the pushing phase of labor. Step-Ups help with balance as our body’s center of gravity changes.
Cardio – carries oxygen to the baby and the body, improves circulation, reduces swelling, and increases endurance.
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