The Role of Glutes in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is the perfect time to tone your legs and bottom. It can help you identify different muscle groups and identify potential problem areas. It also gives you an advantage in labor as you prepare your body for the hard work of giving birth.
You do need to realize that your gluteal area is an area that is designed to accumulate fat deposits during pregnancy. This is your body's way of protecting you and your baby after birth should you need the extra fuel for feeding your baby. Breastfeeding and exercise are the best ways to remove this added fat on your body.
So don't be concerned as your pregnancy progresses if you notice fat deposits being laid down in this area. It is not a sign that your workout efforts are failing. It is a sign that your body is doing an excellent job of preparing for your new baby.
Exercises to Strengthen Your Glutes
Pelvic Rock/ Pelvic Tilt
This is the perfect exercise for backache in pregnancy. It will not only help prevent them, but cure them as well. Assume an all-fours position, on your hands and knees. Think of holding your back in its natural alignment (see FIGURE 5-7). Then tuck only your pelvis in, bringing your pubic bone toward your neck. Be sure to move only your pelvis (see FIGURE 5-8).
If it helps, have someone hold your pelvis so that you can learn to isolate this area. Later, this exercise can be done in different positions. You need to do two sets of 20 repetitions of the pelvic tilts. For an added bonus, do another set of 20 repetitions just before bed to help you sleep.
The pelvic rock or tilt can become your best friend. You can learn to do it standing up, while leaning against a wall for added comfort. In fact, if you take a canister of unopened tennis balls and place it behind the small of your back prior to doing the pelvic rocks, you can manage to give yourself a quick massage.
Stand up without the support of the wall. Maintain the proper posture, while stepping back with your left leg. Your upper body should remain facing forward and not moving. Be sure to keep your right knee above your right ankle, as leaning or twisting could cause injury (see FIGURE 5-5). Lower your body until your right thigh is nearly parallel to the floor. Raise your body by pressing into your right foot (see FIGURE 5-6). Do about ten repetitions of this exercise and then repeat on the opposite side.
This can help strengthen the muscles of your thighs to allow for an easier time at birth if you choose to give birth in this position. Start by using a chair or a partner and stand facing him with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower your body, as he lowers his. Go down as far as you can, while keeping your heels on the floor (see FIGURE 5-9). You will probably require some practice doing this exercise until you can do it alone and go down into a near-sitting position. Do ten squats, holding each for five to ten seconds. Avoid bouncing in between squats.
Supported Squat (Wall Squat)
Standing up straight with your back facing a wall, place the birth ball between you and the wall around the center of your back and press it into the wall using your back. Slowly walk your feet forward, leaning back into the ball for support (see FIGURE 7-6). As you walk forward, the ball will roll up to the center of your back, between your shoulder blades. This allows you to do a squat without having to worry about being steady or having a partner (see FIGURE 7-7). When you are down as far as you can go, hold the pose for up to ten seconds, then slowly walk your feet back to their starting position allowing the ball to roll back to the center of your lower back.
Sit on the edge of a chair. Use a dumbbell as a weight. Place it between your feet. Hold on to the edges of the chair and begin to raise your legs slowly, bringing the dumbbell with you. This will strengthen and flex your quads and glutes. Slowly return to your starting position. Repeat this exercise ten times. Be careful not to use too great a weight or to go too quickly.