After a few days off I was ready to ramp it up again with a mix of strength training and intense cardio intervals. I was getting bored with 1 minute intervals and decided to go back to a circuit training formula. The further I get into my third trimester, the better just regular traditional strength training feels. But I don’t want to lose my endurance and power, so I threw the HIIT intervals in to keep things interesting.
(I didn’t have time to do the pics for this workout but didn’t want to miss another week!)
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Circuit Training with sections of upper and lower body strength training, separated by 1 min of high intensity cardio “blasts” of three 20 second intervals each. There is 2 minutes of rest between sections to catch your breath and grab water.
When I got to the cardio blasts, I just hit start each time.
Pushups – traditional pushups
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.
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 Knees – run in place, keeping your weight over your hips, and get your knees up as high as you can. You may need to do “wide” leg high knees to accomodate your bump.
Box Jumps -Using your arms for momentum, jump up on a sturdy platform, landing in squat, and jump back down. Be careful! I keep my box jumps low to the ground now, just a few inches up onto a block. If you’re not comfortable with jumping up, you can substitute quick step ups.
Skaters – Start in squat, jump to the left, landing on your left leg and keeping your right leg bent behind you, don’t let it touch the floor, then jump back to the other side, repeating that motion with your left leg behind you. The movement mimics that of speed skaters.
Deadlifts – Hold a barbell, dumbells, or sandbag at your thighs, arms straight and knees slightly bent. Bend forward from your hips (not waist), lowering weight to the ground, keeping your back straight, chest out, keeping weight close to your legs. Squeeze your glutes to stand back up. Use weight that is challenging enough to get your heartrate up but stay in proper form.
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 with Weight – 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.
Walkout – Stand with feet just wider than shoulder width apart. Bend over to put your feet on the ground, and walk your hands out to plank, then back in to your feet, stand back up. Repeat.
Military Press – stand w/ feet shoulder width apart or sit on a bench, weight at collarbone with palms facing away from you. Press weight up until arms are extended, then back down to your chin, repeat.
Standing Dumbbell Flyes – Hold dumbbells together in front of your *waist, elbows bent. Lift arms up to the sides, leading with elbows, until weight is even with your shoulders. Keep your core tight to stabilize the movement. Bring them back down, repeat.
I start with a 5 minute warm up – 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 the sets — go straight from exercise to exercise until you reach your water break. Of course, you’re pregnant, so if your body says take a break, take one!
Strength Training Set 1
HIIT Cardio Blast – 1 min
Strength Training Set 2
HIIT Cardio Blast – 1 min
Strength Training Set 3
HIIT Cardio Blast – 1 min
Repeat entire routine one more time.
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:
Rounds – Do one rounds instead of two for a shorter workout
Strength Training – Use lighter weights or body weight only
Pushups – you may have to raise your hips a bit to accomodate the baby bump. Do pushups from knees or against a wall or bar.
Box Jumps – step up and down on the bench, or just hop forward and backward with no elevation.
High Knees – Do low knees, “low” jacks or jog in place instead
Skaters – walk the movement rather than hop to the sides.
Intervals – Learning to work in intense intervals prepares you mentally and physically for labor by getting you accustomed to intense work, followed by rest – just like contractions. HIIT work also improves your endurance, cardiovascular health, and builds muscle, all in a short period of time.
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.
Cardio Blasts – improve balance and agility, gets the heart rate up to carry oxygen to the baby and the body, improves circulation, reduces swelling, and increases endurance needed for labor.
Deadlifts, Squats, and Step Ups – builds lower body, upper body, and core strength to support the uterus, strengthen childbirth muscles, and prevent back aches. Helps with balance as our gravity shifts as we grow. 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.
Pushups, Bench Dips, Rows, Walkouts, Presses, and Flyes – improves core strength and strengthens back/shoulder muscles, helping to reduce back pain and to support the uterus as it grows.
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