Exercises to Tone Up For Labor

Alexandra Powell Allred's picture


Dear Fitness Expert,
Can you suggest exercises that will help my body get ready for labor? Also, I am concerned about getting so big so fast. Are there exercises that will keep stomach muscles firm?


It's great that you are asking this question now. Too often, women wait until delivery time to ponder the question of endurance during labor & delivery. With this attitude, you are ahead of the game.

Reportedly, the muscles most used (or said to be most sore after labor & delivery) are in the back, tricep and bicep (arms) and, hips. Women who trained two or three times a week -- just twenty minutes -- on circuit training claimed to have an easier delivery.

If you do not belong to a gym, you can easily simulate your own "circuit" training.The two best weight lifting routines for arms and legs are:

  • Bent over rowing With feet together, bend slightly at the waist, letting your weights -- suggested 2 pounds -- fall forward just before your knees and slowly lift upward, knuckles up toward the ceiling. Stop when your opened arms/hands are level with your shoulders. Three sets of 12-15.
  • Arms - Shoulder press Holding your weights in both hands, elbows bent, even with your shoulders, slowly press up toward the ceiling so that you can bring the weights together over your head. Back down, that's one. Three sets of 12 -15.
  • For legs, hold the weights in the same shoulder press manner, and squat. Be sure you do not lean forward. It is important that you keep you back straight, stomach pulled in (work those muscles!) and head up. Three sets of 12-15.
  • For more advanced work, you can walk and squat with lunges. If 2 pounds are not enough, you can always move up in weights. If 2 pounds are too much, stick with them and slowly build up. Do 8 reps if that is all you can do, trying to do a little more each time.

But you still need to work cardiovascularly. Without knowing your fitness level, it is difficult to make suggestions. You can continue with whatever your fitness routine was throughout your pregnancy (barring horseback riding, skiing, scuba diving). Speak to you physician about inner core temperature and heart rate. He or she should be able to make a proper assessment given your fitness level.

But cardio is important. Whether you are walking, cycling... keep moving. You will need your endurance during labor. With the weight training comes the strength to push.

Your concern about your stomach expanding is the most common. A proper fitness and nutrition routine will help you from gaining excessive weight. Cutting back on sodium keeps you from bloating. But don't spend needless hours worrying about your expanding waistline.

Fitness model whose careers rely on streamline figures know that as long as they exercise and focus on proper nutrition, their bodies will return to normal. It is called "muscle memory." I have spoken with countless fitness pros who all did light workouts -- what I have outlined for you -- stayed away from junk foods, did light crunches (3 sets of 20) to maintain the "memory" and let their waistline grow in a healthy manner.

Outline a workout routine with your physician. Or, ask that he or she recommend you to someone in your area who can help you as you body changes.

-- Alex