Prenatal Workout Tips from Fitness Celebrity Sara Haley!

by For Two Fitness August 19, 2012

Sara Haley is an international fitness expert dedicated to sharing one of the necessities for maintaining a healthy lifestyle – getting your sweat on! Armed with over twenty years of fitness and dance training, Sara specializes in functional training, prenatal exercise and dance methodology. She has been a Reebok Global Master Trainer since 2008, as well as a Creative Consultant for JUKARI, the branded workout series between Reebok and Cirque du Soleil. Additionally, her impressive resume includes consulting for numerous international publications, training celebrities, and choreographing and starring in over ten fitness DVDs.


 The following are typical workout exercises that either become uncomfortable or unsafe during pregnancy.  My PPPs are alternative exercises I have learned, created and adapted for pregnancy.  Feel free to do them at any point in your pregnancy that you become uncomfortable, however, I specifically recommend them for second trimester (14-26 weeks) and beyond.


Begin on all 4’s with hands in line with shoulders and knees in line with hips.  Lift knees one at a time or together (more advanced) to form a plank.  Hold for a count of 2 and think of squeezing gluts.  Lower knees to the floor and round your back like a cat (hold for a count of 2), arch back and lift head (hold for a count of 2).  Come back to neutral, this time lift and lower knees twice and repeat stretch.  Each time lift and lower knees one more time until you’ve reached 10 in a row.  If belly becomes bigger and is too close to floor or the exercise feels like it’s too much on shoulders or back, modify by taking hands to a chair, bench or bed on an incline.  Always lift one knee at a time from this position (or even the wall – walk feet out and in).

 WHY?  Abdominal crunches are not recommended once you hit the second trimester.  There are several reasons for this. a) In case you develop Diastasis Recti- the separation of the abdominal wall (, you want to prevent it from getting worse.  b)  Lying on your back after 20 weeks is not recommended (see below).  c) Crunches will just become uncomfortable.  *** The best thing to do is instead of working just on abs, work on overall core stability.


Lie down on your back with pillow(s) propped up underneath your head to help incline your body. Keep your knees and feet in line (lift toes up to work hamstrings more).  With free weights in hands (I suggest 8-10 pounds – you want to prepare for baby, right?) open arms up so elbows and shoulders form a 90 degree angle.  Squeeze gluts up lifting lower back off the floor (shoulder blades stay intact with floor); simultaneously push weights together at the top of your bridge.  They should be right across from your chest bone.  Hold and pulse gluts to ceiling for a count of 10.  Slowly lower arms and gluts down.  Repeat 8-10X.


Stand up with feet shoulder width apart and knees soft. With free weights in hands lift elbows up to form 90 degree angle with shoulders.  Press elbows to meet in front of chest. Bring arms back down to hips and rock gluts forward and back for a count of 4. Repeat 8-10X.


WHY?  Lying flat on your back is not recommended after 20 weeks.  The biggest reason for this is because as your uterus enlarges it presses on the inferior vena cava ( a major vein that returns blood from your lower body to your heart), which could reduce blood flow to the uterus, cause low blood pressure, and bring on dizziness.  The best way to adjust this is to incline your exercises or remain standing. Chest work and bridges are the most common exercises performed on your back, which is why I created these exercises.


Begin on all fours with hands underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips. Make sure the balls of the feet are not touching floor (cheaters!). Keeping core engaged and hips completely still, simultaneously reach right arm and left leg out away from body.  Hold for a count of 2, return to all fours, and repeat with left arm and right leg.  10X on each side.  For added challenge try the same exercise in Plank.

WHY?  For obvious reasons, lying on your stomach is going to quickly become uncomfortable, especially if you aren’t used to carrying weight in that area. This does not mean you should not continue to do lower back exercises.  This area is way too important to stop working on during pregnancy.


 SIDE STEP & RAISE (instead of Jumping Jacks): Start with feet together. Take a step to the right, followed by left (so feet are together), raise heels up off floor as in a calf raise, and then go back to the left.  Pump the arms just as you would in a jumping jack.  The key here is to keep the speed of a jumping jack.  To increase intensity bend your knees more (keeping heels on floor) to squat deeper on the side step, but do so maintaining speed. Repeat for 30-60 seconds.

OPEN KNEE LIFTS (instead of High Knee Jog):  Begin with feet together and arms reaching up to the ceiling. Lift one knee up to the corner, avoiding the belly, and pull both arms down towards your hips squeezing your shoulder blades together (like a lat pull down).  Repeat alternating right and left for 30-60 seconds.


TIP TOE JUMP ROPE (instead of Jumping Rope):  Simulate jumping rope with a turn of the wrists keeping the biceps flexed.  Come up on toes with knees bent and feet close together (a great balance challenge).  Quickly tiptoe right and left in place, progressing to moving quickly front for a count of eight and back for a count of eight.  Repeat for 30-60 seconds.


SUMO BURPIES (instead of Burpies):  Take legs wide and turned out from hips.  Squat down in the Sumo position.  Put hands on floor in front of you, walk legs one at a time behind you out to a plank, then back in to the Sumo. Stand back up and reach tall squeezing your gluts. Repeat for 30-60 seconds alternating the leading leg walking back and in.

WHY? If you’ve been jumping or running before your pregnancy, you are probably fine to do so during your pregnancy for as long as you can (I know some women who jumped and jogged up until the day they gave birth).  However, there are numerous reasons, why some pregnant women need to find alternatives.  a) If you are high risk, your doctor is definitely going to recommend being as cautious as possible.  b)  At some point or maybe even just on some days, it may just become uncomfortable because of where or how you are carrying your extra weight.  c) Our bladders become very sensitive during pregnancy; so on days where you can’t hold it in, jumping is not going to be your favorite option.

Sara’s newest venture was becoming a mom to son Landon in March 2011. Her pregnancy led to the creation of her Daily Sweat™ Pregnancy Program: Expecting More™.  See more from Sara at, and be on the look out right here for an exclusive giveaway soon!  



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