10 Best Leg Exercises For Pregnancy – Keep Baby Safe And Stay Strong

Being pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t exercise.

I mean you do have to be careful, there are some rules you have to follow, but there is still a lot you can do.

In my time as a personal trainer, I’ve trained several women through their pregnancy, in fact, one of my very first clients was a pregnant woman.

Talk about a baptism of fire!

And while there are plenty of exercises you can do today we’re going to focus on the best leg exercises for pregnancy.

While there certainly are safety precautions to be made, and it would be wise to consult with a health care provider before diving right into a regular exercise routine.

Pregnant women can definitely still work out all the way to pregnancy. But you need to keep a careful eye on the intensity of the workout.

It is recommended to use a heart rate monitor while exercising during pregnancy but for me, I use the talking approach.

Just by maintaining conversation, you can tell if someone is pushing too hard.

If you can only get a few words out in between breaths you need to pull back.

You also shouldn’t try a new style of exercise while pregnant either.

It’s better off to just keep the focus on trying to maintain strength and fitness as best you can.

You’re going to reduce intensity the further in to the pregnancy you go.

But if you don’t do any exercise during pregnancy, it’s going to be even harder to get started again on the other side.

So here are the 10 best leg exercises you can be doing while pregnant!

And it’s safe enough to do at least modified versions of all of these in the first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester.

So here they are, the best exercises for your legs while pregnant.

  1. Squats
  2. Lunges
  3. Wall Squat
  4. Calf Raise
  5. Modified Step-Ups
  6. Modified Lateral Lunge
  7. Side-Lying Abductor Raise
  8. Side-Lying Clams
  9. Sumo Squats
  10. Donkey Kicks

Is it OK To Do Squats While Pregnant?

Squats are a fine pregnancy exercise but I would steer clear of doing them too heavily.

It is fine to do weight training during pregnancy but you’ll need to drop the weight down and increase the repetitions.

Squats are an important exercise for functional strength and fitness.

And during a pregnancy staying functionally strong is a good idea.

As you get further into the pregnancy though and your belly starts getting bigger it’s the appropriate time to change from a normal squat to a sumo squat.

Stepping out into a wider stance is going to make it more comfortable for both you and baby and it’s a great way to target the thigh muscles differently.

Try to resist letting your upper body come too far forward doing any squat variation though. Keep yourself upright and straight.

How Heavy Can You Squat When Pregnant?

This is really going to depend on how heavy you were squatting before your pregnancy.

You are going to have to reduce the weight you lift the further into your pregnancy you go.

And to be honest with you it could be a good idea to bring in exercises like seated leg extensions.

In a seated position most weight training is going to be ok as long as you listen to your body and reduce the weight.

You can always increase your repetitions with less weight.

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Which Exercises Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

There are plenty of things you want to avoid while pregnant, contact sports, hot yoga, exercises that require you to lie down for more than 3 minutes, like the bench press.

You should avoid anything that requires bouncing, jumping, or running.

You should also stay away from double leg raises and double leg touches.

You really want to avoid your body temperature from getting too high during pregnancy.

The following is a list of exercises you must stop doing during pregnancy.

  1. Sit-Ups or Crunches
  2. Heavy Squats
  3. Heavy Deadlift
  4. Bench Press
  5. Glute Bridges

Strenuous activity and adding new exercises to your routine are not good ideas.

Even professional athletes have to slow it down with their workouts while pregnant.

If you weren’t doing something before pregnancy doesn’t start doing it during, stick to simple exercise.

Which Exercise Is Best During Pregnancy?

Moderate exercise while pregnant is fine in most cases but defiantly speak with your healthcare provider first.

But the following exercises are a great way to not only keep the legs moving but your entire body with little risk of injury to you or your baby.

  1. Low-impact aerobics
  2. Prenatal yoga
  3. Brisk walking
  4. Stationary bike
  5. Swimming
  6. Ellipticals and stair climbers
  7. Pilates
  8. Tai Chi 

Low impact aerobics is a great exercise to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy without risk to you or the baby, and you can find plenty of workouts on youtube you can follow along with.

Does Stretching Hurt The Baby?

Some light stretches are fine to do while pregnant but you should avoid stretching your abdominal muscles, it is not safe or even necessary to stretch your abdomen during pregnancy.

Stretching or exercising your back muscles are not recommended after 16 weeks either.

Here’s a great video I found on youtube that takes you through some safe stretches during your 2nd and 3rd trimester.

Can Twisting Hurt My Baby?

Any twisting motion is not recommended during pregnancy, your abdomen is already under a lot of strain as the pressure from your growing uterus forces your belly to stretch.

Twisting motions can limit your baby’s space and restrict blood flow to the uterus.

What Other Positions Can Hurt My Baby?

Laying on your back for more than 3 minutes during exercise is not safe.

You should avoid twisting motions like we just mentioned.

And after the second trimester, it’s not recommended to spend too much time in a plank or push-up position.

It is still ok to do push-ups but you are much safer doing them with your hands on a raised surface.

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How Do You Strengthen Your Core During Pregnancy?

Keeping your core strong during pregnancy is important and it is going to take pressure away from your lower back but there are some rules you need to follow.

Start slow if you haven’t done a lot of exercise before your pregnancy and listen to your body.

And the most important muscles in your core to strengthen are muscles like the transverse abdominis in your deep core.

Side planks and modified side planks are much safer than doing your standard plank.

Standing bicycles and kegel exercises are other safe options.

Lying leg lifts are also fine to do until you start to feel uncomfortable.

And that will happen, my most recent pregnant client was very open with me during all your sessions.

She would always let me know when she was starting to feel discomfort and we would modify as we went.

Certain exercises will be fine for a long time, and then one day you are going to feel increased pressure.

So always be honest with yourself or your personal trainer as you progress through your pregnancy.

Does Pregnancy Weaken Your Core?

During your pregnancy, your core muscles are going to be stretching and shifting to accommodate your growing child but this doesn’t mean they are weakening.

They are just making the necessary changes needed for housing a growing human.

But you certainly need to keep trying to strengthen the muscles in your core during this time.

But that’s going to look different the further through your pregnancy you go.

Is It Safe To Do Hip Thrusts While Pregnant?

During your first trimester, it is ok to continue doing hip thrusts, if you haven’t been doing them prior to pregnancy it’s best to only do them with light weights.

Even if you have been doing hip thrusts before, you should start to decrease down to around 70% of where you were training before.

But as you come into your second and third trimester you’ll need to start looking at modified versions.

If you’ve been doing these with a barbell before, you’re going to have to switch to dumbbells now.

Your growing belly is going to make it pretty uncomfortable to do with a barbell now.

And even dropping down to body weight or resistance bands is going to be a good idea now.

Finally, in the 3rd trimester, you’re going to have to switch to doing hip thrusts from a kneeling position with resistance bands tied to a post of the bench behind you.

Can You Do Bridges In the First Trimester?

Bridges are ok at the start of your pregnancy, but as you move further along they are no longer safe.

To do a glute bridge correctly you need your back flat on the ground.

So as you get further along you should switch to doing some of the previously mentioned hip thrust variations instead.

Once you are on the other side of pregnancy and looking for a new program to start, have a go at working out with resistance bands.

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