Pregnancy can come with a laundry list of restrictions — thankfully, exercise isn't one of them. In fact, regular physical activity during your pregnancy can reduce your risk of health issues like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia, and promote healthy fetal development, per the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG).
Not to mention, getting a workout in can help you sleep better and give your energy levels a boost, plus mitigate some of the more uncomfortable effects of pregnancy, like backaches and swelling, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
While highly intense workouts may be a big no-no at this time, there are plenty of workouts you can do to build strong muscles. If you're unsure where to begin, it's never a bad idea to focus on your glutes — the biggest muscle in your body.
Ahead, we take you through three types of exercises you can do to grow your glutes while pregnant.
Adults should aim for for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week and 2 or more days a week of strength training, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Before beginning any exercise program during pregnancy, get the green light from your doctor. Although working out while pregnant is generally safe, your doctor might advise against it if you have certain medical conditions. And, if an activity you've been cleared to do begins to feel painful or uncomfortable, it's best to stop and make an appointment with your MD.
Walking is actually a great glute workout while pregnant. This activity works your upper thighs and butt muscles, helping to build strength. This activity is generally the safest activity you can do when you're pregnant, according to the ACOG. Make sure to warm up for a few minutes before your walk
Get started with a few of our favorite walking workouts below.
Swimming is a great, safe way to stay in shape during pregnancy, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This activity is a low-impact way to build muscle from head to toe — glutes included. That's because water is denser than air, so there's more resistance added to swimming than there is to other forms of cardio, like running. This makes swimming a great glute exercise while pregnant.
Get started with a few of our favorite pool workouts below.
In general, strength training helps you build strong muscles and bones, prevents injuries, improves posture and balance and makes it easier to do everyday tasks like squatting down to pick something up off the floor, per the Mayo Clinic.
Give the following three glute-building moves a try on your next lower-body day.
1. Donkey Kick
- Start on all fours with your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
- Keeping your hips square to the ground and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, squeeze your glutes to lift your right foot toward the sky as if you are stamping the bottom of your shoe on the ceiling.
- Keep your core as tight as possible and try to avoid arching your back.
- Inhale as you lower the leg back down.
- Complete all 15 reps on one leg before switching to the other side.
2. Air Squat
- Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart (you can take a wider or narrower stance if you need) and brace your core. Focus on keeping your feet rooted into the ground and your core tight the entire time.
- Clasp your hands in front of your chest and slowly bend your knees as you push your hips back to lower toward the floor. Focus on lowering your body as if you were going to sit on a chair.
- Lower down as far as comfortable, or until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Pause for a moment at the bottom of your squat.
- On an exhale, reverse the motion by pressing through your heels to return to standing.
- Complete 10 reps.
3. Banded Lateral Walk
- Place a mini resistance band around your legs about 2 inches under your knees.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees and sit your hips back into a slight squatting position.
- Step your right foot out laterally, staying in a squatting position.
- Step your left foot to meet your right foot, keeping them hip-width apart.
- Step out 3 times to your right.
- Return back leading with your left foot, stepping 3 times. That's 1 rep.
- Complete 6 reps.
- Cleveland Clinic: "Exercise During Pregnancy"
- ACOG: "Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period"
- American Pregnancy Association: "Exercise During Pregnancy"
- Mayo Clinic: "Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier"
- CDC: "How much physical activity do adults need?"
- ACOG: "Exercise During Pregnancy"