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Pregnancy Workouts – The Perfect Pregnancy Workout, Volume 2

3 Apr

Have you ever wondered what pregnancy workouts are like? As someone who is planning on having to do pregnancy workouts in the semi-near future, I was curious if the workouts were challenging or if pregnancy workouts are just super-easy, just-make-you-feel-like-you-did-something workouts.

I am fairly fit. My weekly routine is:

Monday: Cardio/strength training (30 minutes)

Tuesday: Yoga (30 – 45 minutes)

Wednesday: Cardio/strength training (30 minutes) – In the next few weeks, I am going to switch this workout over to a high intensity interval workout. Probably one by Jillian Michaels’ workouts.

Thursday: Yoga (30 minutes)

Friday: Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 (37 minutes – yeah, I am counting those extra 7 minutes, because every minute of that workout kicks my butt)

So, as you can see, I don’t exercise for a long time each day, but I try to take time each day to workout and I try to challenge myself. I don’t want to stop being fit for the 9 months I’m pregnant, so I was curious if the pregnancy workouts out there would be challenging enough to keep up my current level of fitness. Now, I know that once I switch over to pregnancy workouts, I will have an extra 10lbs or so to lug around, so even easier workouts will be more difficult. However, I think that the workout would need to be at least moderately difficult now to translate to a good workout later.

So, in my quest for answers, I tried out my first pregnancy workout: The Perfect Pregnancy Workout, Volume 2. This is a yoga workout (since today was my yoga day) and lasts 35 minutes. The back panel has pictures of a fairly pregnant Sarah Steben doing poses like this:


Yes, that’s right, the packaging for the workout shows a pregnant woman doing a handstand. I’ll admit, I was intimidated. I don’t think I could get my non-pregnant self into a handstand. And I’m sure my non-pregnant side planks are probably not that pretty. But, to my surprise, it was only a moderately difficult yoga practice. I can currently do most of the advanced poses without difficulty. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who isn’t experienced with yoga. There is no instruction on the poses or postures and the cuing is not so good. But, once you realize what she wants you to do, it’s actually a nice, moderate yoga practice that stretches the hips and hamstrings in a wonderful way. 🙂





PS – I’m pretty sure that my doing a pregnancy workout freaked Paul out a little.


Exercising in the Morning

7 Nov

I’ve talked a lot about the importance of exercise, both generally and specifically in the context of planning pregnancy and being pregnant. But, to be honest, I was having trouble getting in my 5 30-minute workouts in every week. I was doing one or two workouts after work every week. I was grocery shopping, studying, snacking . . . pretty much anything other than exercising.

So, I decided something needed to change. I needed to schedule my workout at a time when I’m not so easily distracted. I decided to try to workout in the morning instead. I was worried about getting up earlier and I was worried about eating and then working out in a short time frame. But, I was able to conquer both of those issues and I now workout every morning. Here are my tips for successfully working out in the morning:

  • Take a “digestion break” – I take a half hour break between eating and exercising. This allows me to digest enough that I have energy to workout and ensures that I won’t be nauseated while working out.
  • Eat a light but complex breakfast – I love having Kashi Go Lean cereal for breakfast. It’s light enough that it doesn’t weigh me down during my workout, but it has complex carbs and protein to help fuel my workout.
  • Rearrange your schedule to minimize how early you have to wake up – this may mean performing some tasks the night before or just rearranging your morning routine to do tasks during your digesting break. I pack my lunch and prepare the coffee during my digestive break. Moving these tasks to this time allows me to wake up only a half hour earlier and still fit everything in.
  • Skip your vitamin until after your workout – I took my vitamin before my workout one day and I felt so sick during my workout. Taking my vitamin later solves this issue completely.
In addition to actually getting my workouts in every day, I’ve also found that working out in the morning makes me feel more energetic and fit throughout the day. Definitely a benefit that helps me wake up just a little bit earlier every day! 🙂
What are your strategies for getting your workout in every day?

Exercise Routine #3

2 Oct
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5


Rock Hard Abs

Real Housewives Upper Body

Booty Burn

Cardio shape-up



Phenomenal Abs

Yoga Refresh

Kickboxing – This kickboxing workout kicks my butt! But, the thing I love about it is that it is a sustained cardio workout. A lot of the routines I do use cardio and sculpting intervals. This workout keeps the cardio going for almost the entire workout. It really makes me feel like I have given my heart a workout! Plus, I’m sweating from approximately the second minute of the video. 😉

Rating: 5

During pregnancy: I think this workout is too intense to do after the first trimester. Plus, it has a lot of jumping and balancing moves that probably aren’t a good idea for my klutzy self to be doing after 3 months pregnant.

Sexy Beach Abs – I love this workout because it works not only your abs, but also your back. How important are your back muscles during pregnancy, right? This workout works abs, obliques, lower back and the muscles along your spine. All great muscles to strengthen to help your body handle pregnancy!

Rating: 4

During pregnancy: This workout uses a lot of moves that take place on your back, which isn’t good for any time after the first trimester. Plus, the workouts that strengthen your back muscles are pretty hard on your back. Probably your back doesn’t need any more work after carrying baby around in your belly all day, right?

Real Housewives Upper Body – This workout alternates between standing postures utilizing weights and floor work. I like this workout because my arms are always tired when I am finished – so I know it’s working! Plus, this workout includes postures to tone the back (baby and diaper bag carrying muscles!).

Rating: 4

During pregnancy – the non-floor work postures in this workout would be good for use even during pregnancy. They don’t require balance or spending time on the back or stomach.

Booty Burn – This workout is the perfect companion to the Real Housewives Upper Body workout. It focuses intensely on the lower body. This workout also uses a set of hand weights to add some extra resistance to the postures.

Rating: 3

During pregnancy – this workout does require some balancing postures and some bouncing around. I think that this workout could be continued into the second trimester, but I would be cautious and especially aware of my changing center of balance.

Cardio Shape-Up – This is a quick, high energy cardio workout. This workout can vary greatly in intensity depending on how enthusiastic you are with it. Once I got into the workout, I could really feel my heart rate going up!

Rating: 2

During pregnancy – This workout involves some jumping jacks and balancing postures, but could be easily modified to continue doing this workout during pregnancy.

10-10-10 – This workout does 10 repetitions of 10 exercises with 10 seconds to rest in between. The number of repetitions ensures that each move really fatigues the muscles that it is working. I also like this workout because once you feel like it is no longer challenging, you could increase the weight of the hand weights and make it challenging again! Plus, this workout really focuses on form, which helps to protect the joints when you first begin weight training.

Rating: 3

During pregnancy – This workout could be continued during pregnancy, with the exception of the last 5 minutes of the workout, which takes place on the back. Most of the workout takes place standing up and focuses on the number of repetitions to fatigue the muscles.

Cardio Challenge: This is a high-paced cardio workout that got my heart rate up from the first few minutes to the last few minutes. Not only was this a good cardio workout, but I feel like it also toned my body (especially my arms!).

Rating: 3

During pregnancy: The first few minutes of this workout offer a few cardio moves that seem be safe to continue throughout pregnancy. However, after those first few minutes, the workout moves on to poses that require balance or require you to lay on the floor, neither of which would be appropriate past the first trimester.

Phenomenal Abs – This is a quick ab workout. Though less intense than some of the other ab workouts I’ve done, this one targets the transverse and oblique muscles exceptionally well. And since both of those muscle groups are important to pregnancy, that’s definitely a plus!

Rating: 3

During pregnancy: The first few moves of this workout are ab exercises that you do standing up, which would be great for even the later stages of pregnancy. However, like most ab workouts, it quickly progresses to floor poses that would not be appropriate for during pregnancy.

Yoga Refresh – This is a challenging yoga workout that emphasizes the toning properties of yoga a lot more than many other yoga workouts. However, it still keeps an excellent focus on the breath and stretching throughout the workout.

Rating: 4

During pregnancy – like many yoga workouts, this workout uses a lot of back and stomach postures that would not be appropriate past the first trimester.

Now, previously, I was rotating my workouts every 6 weeks. Not only is this difficult to keep track of, but I don’t think it is entirely necessary. Rotating workouts every 6-8 weeks is important because it ensures your body doesn’t adjust to the workout (which would make the workout ineffective). However, rotating every 2 months would accomplish this same goal and it would be easier to keep track of! So, I will be doing this workout from September 25 – November 25. See? Much easier!

Healthy Habits – Exercise

2 Oct

There are lots of reasons to exercise – lower blood pressure, leaner body, healthier circulatory system . . . the list goes on and on. But, when I am planning for pregnancy there are even more reasons.

  • Getting fit now helps me to make sure that my body is prepared for pregnancy. I mean, over the course of my pregnancy, I will gain 25-30 lbs. That’s a lot of extra weight to carry around! I need some serious muscle to help with that.
  • Getting fit now can help to make sure I gain less weight during pregnancy. In fact, studies show that women who exercised before and during pregnancy gained 7 few pounds while pregnant.
  • Getting fit now helps me make sure my baby is healthier later. Really! Research has shown that moms who exercised gave birth to babies with healthier hearts who were less likely to be overweight as kindergarteners.
  • Getting fit now will help to get me into the habit of exercising. This will make it easier to continue exercising after conception and maybe even after birth!

So, how am I going to get fit? Well, I have created three exercise plans for myself that I will rotate through (this rotation helps to ensure that I don’t get bored and that the exercise routines remain effective). Now, how I will exercise during pregnancy is a more difficult question. I know that there are some things (really, a lot of things) that I can’t do while pregnant, especially after the first trimester. My current plan is to continue my previous workout plans during the first trimester, with my doctor’s ok, of course. Once I am past the first trimester, I am going to switch to prenatal workouts. I know that I want a plan that offers different workouts for different trimesters (I can’t imagine that I should be doing the same workout at 4 months that I should be doing at 8) and I know that I want to do prenatal yoga. Here are some of the workouts that are looking good to me!

Prego Fit Workouts: I like this workout system, because it offers different workouts for each trimester and it even offers workouts that address the symptoms I may be experiencing each month of pregnancy:


Fit for Pregnancy: This workout system also offers different

workouts for each trimester, but there are only 3 6-minute circuits per trimester and the first and second trimester are the same workouts, but the workouts are supposed to be a bit more intense than many prenantal workouts, which I think I will want if I am already in good shape when I conceive:

Perfect Pregnancy Workout Volumes 1-3: This workout system doesn’t offer different workouts for each trimester,
but the reviews make it seem like a more intense workout geared more towards women who are already fit when the conceive. Plus, volume 2 is all about prenatal yoga: ; and

Prenatal Yoga with Shiva Rea: This workout is all yoga. It offers modifications for each trimester:

Complete Pregnancy Fitness with Erin O’Brien: I liked this workout dvd because it offers prenatal and postnatal workout routines. Plus, the routines include cardio, strength training and stretching:

ZenMama: I liked this yoga routine because reviewers said it was a bit more advanced. All of my workout routines include at least one day of yoga, so I think I can handle a more advanced routine, even while I am pregnant:

The last issue is: how soon is too soon to buy prenatal workouts? You see, not only am I a planner, but I am a bargain-hunter. So . . . If I see a lot of prenatal workout dvds on eBay for a good price, is one year too far ahead to buy them? 

Exercise Routine #2

11 Aug

So . . . epic fail on getting this routine posted on time. I said August 1st and its . . . August 11. But, in my defense I a) was on vacation, b) didn’t end up liking some of the workouts I picked out, and c) did the workouts by August 1st, then forgot to write reviews for some, and then forgot what the reviews were supposed to say. I know, it is no less of an epic fail, but there you go.

Anyway, this is the workout routine that I will be doing until September 3. I’ll then switch to my Exercise Routine #3 (which is yet to be created, but will hopefully be more on time than this one). Then, I will rotate back to Routine #1. I’ll get back to Routine #2 on November 26, 2011 (using 5 lb weights), February 18, 2012 (using 8 lb weights), and June 23, 2012 (using 8 lb weights). And after that I won’t rotate back for a while because I will probably be pregnant (what?!?!?) and have to modify this routine fairly substantially.


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
Dorm Room Workout Thighs, Hips and Buns Yoga


Dynamic Sculpt and Stretch

Strength Interval


Straight to the Core

Big Day Bootcamp


Cardio Sculpt and Burn

Yoga Abs (Part 2)


Cardio Sculpting




Dorm Room Workout – This workout alternates between cardio and sculpting intervals. This means that this workout helps you both lose weight and strengthen and tone muscles. Not bad for 30 minutes! You will need a pair of light hand weights.


During pregnancy: This workout involves some high impact moves like jumping jacks and also has a few minutes of ab work on your back. I think this is a workout which I could do a bit into the second trimester, but I think that it would become uncomfortable further into pregnancy.


Rating: 4


Thighs, Hips and Buns Yoga – This workout is really tough on my thighs, and you definitely can feel the results the next day! I really enjoy the workout, though. Just as soon as I feel like I could not possibly hold the pose any longer, the instructor says “just a few more breaths” and I try to hold it for just a bit longer. I enjoy this workout and I feel like it gives great results.


During pregnancy – This workout involves balancing postures and several minutes spent on the back, so I probably wouldn’t  continue with this workout past the first trimester.


Rating: 3


Dynamic Sculpt and Stretch – You’ll need a light pair of hand weights for this one. This workout uses sculpting intervals with stretches in between. The intervals can be challenging, but there are plenty of stretch breaks.


During pregnancy – I will definitely continue this workout into pregnancy. There are no balancing or postures on the back and it tones diaper bag carrying muscles!


Rating: 2


Strength Interval – This workout uses short cardio intervals with intervals of strength training. I think I was sweating within the first few minutes! I felt a bit sore for the rest of the day, but that means it’s working, right?


During pregnancy – This would be one that would be pretty easy to modify to use later in pregnancy. There are some jumping exercises, but even the instructor says that you can modify the moves to eliminate the jumping if you don’t feel up to it.


Rating: 4


Straight to the Core – This is an intense ab workout. I think my abs were shaking within 3 minutes of starting. I definitely think I will see results with this one!


During pregnancy – This workout is done exclusively on your back, so it isn’t one I would be able to do after the first trimester.


Rating: 4


Big Day Bootcamp – This is a great upper body workout with some good cardio/lower body mixed in. My arms were literally shaking by the end! I guess that’s how you know it’s working, right? You’ll need hand weights for this one.


During pregnancy – There is one stretch in the warm-up that might twist too much for any time after the first trimester. There is also 2-3 minutes worth of ab work on your back towards the end. But I think that if I skipped those things, I could definitely continue this workout throughout pregnancy.


Rating: 3


Cardio Sculpt and Burn – This is a good cardio follow-up to Big Day Bootcamp. This workout calls for a light pair of hand weights. I used 1 lb to start out. There is a lot of swinging the weight around and I worry that if I use more weight I will end up pulling something.


During pregnancy – Because you are swinging the weights around so much, I would not continue this workout during pregnancy since your ligaments are looser during pregnancy, increasing the risk of pulling a ligament. Additionally, there is some ab work during the second half of the workout that probably calls for a bit too much twisting to be good during pregnancy.


Rating: 3


Yoga Abs (Part 2) – This is actually a gentler workout than I typically do. However, I loved the way that it focused on pulling your abs in while doing moderate exercise. I felt like I got a really great ab workout, even without more strenuous postures. As a side note, you can skip the last segment, it is more credits and summary speech than workout.


During pregnancy – Though this workout is gentler, it spends a lot of time on the back or stomach, so it probably is not a workout I would continue past the first trimester. However, Yoga Abs Part 1 would be a great workout to continue throughout pregnancy.


Rating: 2


Cardio Sculpting – This workout had me sweating within the first minute and a half. No kidding. It is a tough cardio workout, but is a good, quick-and-dirty cardio routine to follow up the gentler yoga practice of Yoga Abs.


During pregnancy – I think that this workout is too intense to continue into pregnancy. Though it feels very effective, there is a lot of jumping, leaning and fast-paced moves.


Rating: 4

Exercise Routine #1

14 Jun

This is my first exercise routine. I will perform this exercise routine using 3 lb weights from June 12, 2011 until July 23, 2011; using 5lb weights from October 16, 2011 until November 26, 2011; and using 8 lb weights from February 19, 2012 until March 31, 2012 and from June 24th, 2012 until August 4, 2012.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Bridal Body Burn Fight the Freshman 15

Bridal ABsession

Yoga Sculpt Balance Body Sculpt


Yoga fitness fusion

Bridal Body Burn (31:52) – This workout incorporates cardio and sculpting intervals. This means that it helps you reach two important pre-pregnancy goals. First ,it helps you attain your ideal pre-pregnancy weight and it helps to strengthen your body in preparation for pregnancy. You need a pair of hand weights for this one.

During pregnancy – This workout is not a good workout for after the first trimester of pregnancy. The last 9 minutes of the workout is done on the stomach. Additionally, there are several poses which challenge your balance, which may grow more difficult and cause falls as pregnancy progresses.

Rating: 4

Fight the Freshman 15 (20:54) – This workout incorporates cardio and strength training intervals. I feel that the cardio portion of this workout is similar to Bridal Body Burn, but perhaps a bit more intense. Also like the Bridal Body Burn workout, this will help to strengthen the body in preparation for pregnancy and will also help you attain your ideal pre-pregnancy weight. You need a pair of hand weights for this one.

During Pregnancy – this workout requires very little time on the back or stomach. Though it is a fairly intense routine, if you have been regularly doing this workout (as I plan to do), I think this workout would be one I would attempt even after the first trimester.

Rating: 4

Bridal ABsession (10:15) – This workout focuses intensely on the abs. The 10 minutes passes quickly, though, and my abs always feel stronger after. This helps to tone the muscles that will support the baby bump and assist during labor. You need a pair of hand weights for this one.

During pregnancy – this workout involves a lot of poses on the back and so would not be a good routine to do after the first trimester of pregnancy.

Rating: 3

Yoga Sculpt (30:54) – This workout offers intermediate and advanced options throughout the workout. This workout both helps to increase flexibility and to increase muscle tone.

During pregnancy – this workout involves many twisting postures as well as postures that require you to be on your back or stomach. This is not a workout I would do during pregnancy.

Rating: 3

Balance and Body Sculpt (21:49) – This workout has 10 minutes of lower body focus and 10 minutes of upper body focus. However, even during the lower body segment, you use hand weights and perform bicep curls. This workout strengthens arm and posture muscles (I’m not quite sure what posture muscles are, but it sounds good) – both of which are important for during and after pregnancy (have you seen the size of those diaper bags?). This routine requires one pair of light (~3lb) and one pair of heavy (~5 lb) hand weights. As a side note, the trainer who does this workout also has prenatal workouts for use during pregnancy.

During pregnancy – this workout could definitely continue during pregnancy. There is no twisting or postures taken on the stomach or back.

Rating: 3.5

Abs (10:51) – This workout is a fast-paced ab workout. There are very few reps of each movement (in contrast to the Balance and Body Sculpt, which focuses on higher rep moves), so you won’t get bored.

During pregnancy – This workout has a lot of twisting and time spent on the back. I don’t think I would continue this workout after the first trimester.

Rating: 3

Yoga Fitness Fusion (45:59) – This is a fairly intense yoga workout, but it offers plenty of breaks to catch your breath. This workout offers both yoga and traditional fitness moves. I feel both stretched and strengthened afterwards.

During pregnancy – Twisting, laying on your back, laying on your front . . . unfortunately, this workout has all of the pregnancy no-no’s in it. I wouldn’t do this workout past the first trimester.

Rating: 4 (though you don’t feel this workout as much during the workout, once you’re finished, you realize how intense it was!)

Benefits of Exercise

9 Jun

We all know that exercise is good for you. But, for those days when it is hard to take the 30 minutes or so to exercise, here is a list of some of the benefits of exercise that keep me motivated.

  • Look great now and gain less weight during pregnancy – it seems like a shallow reason, but this is the day-to-day reason that keeps me going. Many other benefits of exercise are long-term and can be hard to use to stay motivated.
  • Improve your mood – exercise is a great stress reducer, so on those stressful days when you feel too tense to exercise – do it and you’ll feel less tense. This relaxation can also help you get to sleep more easily at night.
  • Increase your energy – this is a great day-to-day reason and is also a great pregnancy-planning reason. We will all need that extra energy once we are pregnant and after we’ve given birth.
  • Combat chronic disease – heart disease, osteoperosis, high cholesterol – the risks of all of these chronic conditions can be reduced by regular exercise.
  • Reduces pregnancy discomfort (once the preggers plan comes to fruition!) – exercise can help to reduce back pain by strengthening muscles. It also reduces constipation and nausea.
  • Reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia.
  • Shorter, easier labor – stronger muscles, greater stamina and better focus – all leading to an easier labor. Additionally, there is a lower chance of requiring intervention during labor.
  • Lose the baby weight faster – exercising before pregnancy helps you get your pre-baby body back faster in two ways. First, the muscles you build burn more calories than fat would burn. Second, you establish an exercise routine, making it easier to continue to exercise after the baby is born.