Having a ball!
They’re big, bouncy, inexpensive and come in a range of cheery colours!
Whether you choose to call it a fit ball, a Swiss ball, a pregnancy exercise ball or a birth ball we’re talking the same thing - a ball that you can use as part of your pregnancy exercise routine that will work your core without you having to do ‘sit up’ type exercises.
We asked pregnancy fitness experts FittaMamma to share their favourite fitball exercises…
‘Firstly, choose a ball that’s the right size for you. When you sit on it with your feet flat on the floor your knees should be in a comfortable right angle with your thighs parallel to the floor. Your pelvis, shoulders and head should be vertical. But it’s not just about the size, you do need to make sure your fitness ball is properly inflated – if it squashes down too much when you sit on it your exercises won’t be so effective.
It’s worth having some dumbbells to get the best results from your fitball exercises - choose weights that feel most comfortable for you but remember when you’re pregnant it’s better to choose lighter weights and go for more repetitions.
Before you get started, spend a few minutes warming up. Even more important when you’re pregnant, warming up will gradually increase your heart rate, increase circulation to your muscles, ligaments and tendons, raise your temperature and reduce the risk of injury. It will also get you in the right zone for exercise.
Warmed up and ready to go? Then check out these exercises to work your arms, legs and core!
Work your arms!
This will also work your core, biceps, triceps and shoulders! Use two 3kg weights, or less if these feel too heavy.
Sit upright on the birth ball with your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Keep your shoulders back and tummy muscles pulled in throughout.
Ready? Now do
• 12-15 bicep curls bringing the weights from you’re your sides towards your chest.
• 12-15 tricep kickbacks starting with your arms close to your body at 90 degrees and then straighten them out behind you.
• 12-15 overhead presses starting with weights on your shoulders lift straight above your head.
Do two sets and increase the number of repetitions for a stronger workout.
Work your abs and upper back!
Try adding 10 normal ab squeezes at the end to make sure you have really worked your deep core muscles. Use two 1kg weights for this one.
• Sit upright on the fit ball, with your shoulders back and feet flat on the floor.
• Breathe in deeply and let your chest expand. Then, as you exhale, draw your belly button in firmly to engage your core muscles. The rest of your body should be still. Hold this position, making sure you can breathe comfortably. Hold a light weight in each hand, with your arms out in front of you at head height. Keep your shoulders back.
• Slowly bring your arms in towards you, squeezing your shoulder blades together, bringing the weights to either side of your chest.
• Slowly return your arms to the starting position. Once you’ve completed your back squeeze repetitions release your abs.
Repeat 15–20 times and do two sets.
Work your deep tummy muscles and your pelvis
Don’t worry about drawing in your tummy muscles; it won’t affect your baby.
• Sit upright on the exercise ball, with your shoulders back and feet flat on the floor.
• Breathe in deeply and let your chest expand. Then, as you exhale, draw your belly button in so that you feel like you are wearing a tight corset (engaging your core muscles).
• Without moving your feet, tilt your pelvis forward and upward.
• Hold for a couple seconds and return to start position.
Repeat 15–20 times and do two sets.
FittaMamma.com is a great source of information for safe exercise in pregnancy, yoga, trimester specific workouts, recipes and pregnancy nutrition… and for more fitball exercises too!
Picture modelled by personal fitness instructor Kimberley, who is wearing FittaMamma capris and a Fit Baby Pregnancy Workout top.