Can I Do Squats while Pregnant?

Yes, you can do squats while pregnant and they are good for you. BUT only if you do them right. As with all exercise during pregnancy, please get your doctor’s approval first.

I have included five of the best squatting during pregnancy exercises below. Many of these are also included in my online workout videos. Also, I want you to watch this video below. You will learn how to perform squats with the right technique to keep both you and baby safe.

Learn how to squat correctly and it will help you throughout your pregnancy and also postnatal recovery.

When you weren’t pregnant you may have performed squats in the gym using weights. As a fitness trainer I can say that squats are an ideal compound exercise. Squats work so many different body parts.

Now you’re pregnant, you can definitely benefit from squatting… As long as you take appropriate precautions as I have outlined in this post and also my training video.

Benefits of Doing Squats while Pregnant

1. Strengthen your legs.

Having strong legs is important for all stages of your life. They are your foundation. Having strong legs when pregnant are important to help carry the additional weight you put on. Strong legs also assist you with various birthing positions.

2. Strengthen your glutes.

Strong glutes provide you with similar benefits to having strong legs. These muscles also help to prevent lower back injuries.

3. Improve your lower body mobility.

Being more mobile is an advantage in many ways. From moving when pregnant, to being able to move better when you are carrying or picking up your newborn baby.

4. Keep your bones and joints healthy.

Strength training leads to stronger bones. This is very important to you especially for later on in life. This applies to most weight-bearing activities.

5. Prepare your body for labor and delivery.

When you participate in your antenatal classes you will soon discover that some of the birthing positions being taught to you require strength in your legs.

If you are physically prepared for childbirth then your experience will be a more positive one.

I am constantly hearing from our members how one of the greatest benefits of my program comes when they need it most – during labour!

What Happens when You Squat Incorrectly?

1. You do not activate the right muscles.

2. Additional stress is placed on ligaments and joints.

3. You are at increased risk of injury.

4. Your center of gravity changes, so you are greater risk of falling.

5. You may experience pelvic pain.

My goal with this post is to ensure that you, and all pregnant women, are safely performing various squats. Squats are not a high impact activity, but there can be other risks if performed incorrectly.

Your pelvic floor muscles can be directly impacted so let’s ensure you are doing them the right way!

So What is the Squat?

The Squat is a popular exercises performed by gym goers with all sorts of goals. It is essentially a lower body exercise. It will get your heart rate going so make sure you don’t push too hard.

If you search the internet, you will find numerous videos and squat variations. Some use a barbell. Some used a dumbbells. And some use body-weight.

Squat Variations – Shallow squats

Shallow squats are better because the deeper the squat, the greater the chance that muscles which are too tight will change the motion. As a result, the external rotators and hamstring muscles instead of the gluteal muscles will get involved, which are the muscles you want to be working in this type of exercise.

Here’s a Progression:

Perform shallow squats on a foam pad. This movement creates an unstable surface and co-contraction of muscles, and is a safe and effective way to strengthen the gluteus muscles, thighs, and hips.

The key is to avoid pelvic pain and you can do this by using the correct technique.

What Muscles are Used when Squatting?

The Squat exercise mainly targets your quadriceps, hamstrings and the glutes.

A squat is a strength exercise where you lower your hips from a standing position and then stands back up. During the descent of a squat, your hip and knee joints flex while your ankle joint dorsi-flexes.

Conversely the hip and knee joints extend and the ankle joint plantar-flexes when standing up.

Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength of the lower body muscles as well as developing core strength.

The primary agonist muscles used during the squat are the:

1. quadriceps femoris

2. the adductor magnu

3. the gluteus maximus

The squat also isometrically uses the erector spinae and the abdominal muscles, among others.

Common Mistakes You Must Avoid

1. Starting from the knees.

In this position you are already starting with your muscles contracted. What you want to do is perform a squat through its full range of motion.

2. Trying to lift too much weight.

Normally, when you are trying to add muscle the best way is to progressively increase the weight you lift. This result sin greater strength and bigger muscles.

But, remember, your goals have changed. Lifting too much weight causes you to strain, and will lead to an injury.

3. Bending your back.

You should always perform an exercise by keeping your spine in line. When you bend your back, it can take the load and this leads to injury.

4. Lifting your heels off the floor.

For one, you need your feet planted on the ground to help you keep your balance and avoid falling.

Secondly, lifting your heels involves your calf muscles and actually takes away from the major muscle groups you are trying to strengthen.

5. Letting your knees go inward.

Keep your knees in line. Don’t let them go inward, or flare outwards.

6. Not warming up!

You should always perform a few warm-ups sets. Over the years we have progressed from the old static stretches to more dynamic warm-ups.

7. Pelvic Pains when Squatting

Anatomy of a Great Squat

A squat is a strength exercise in which you lowers your hips from a standing position and then immediately stand back-up.

As you go down, the hip and knee joints flex while the ankle joint dorsi-flexes. When you stand-up, the hip and knee joints extend and the ankle joint plantar-flexes.

Squatting by Trimester

1. First Trimester Pregnancy Squats

Before your belly is getting in the way, you can start by spreading your feet hip width apart. Reach your hips back as if you were sitting in a chair until your hips are almost parallel with the ground. Stand up returning to the start position and repeat.

2. Second Trimester Pregnancy Squats

I want you to start by squatting down until hips are almost parallel with the ground. Hold at the bottom as you pulse a few inches up and down twice. Now. stand up to your toes and then return to squat position and repeat.

3. Third Trimester Pregnancy Squats

Stand with your head and back against a wall. Lower your body into a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.

Pregnancy Safe Squats

1. Chair squats while Pregnant

If you struggle with balance, try this one. Using a chair for support gives you the confidence to perform squats.

Here’s How to Do it

1. Stand behind the chair.

2. Make sure the chair is stable and cannot move.

3. Hold onto the chair with feet wide apart as shown.

4. Squat down.

5. Stand back up using your gluteus muscles to initiate the movement.

Sets: 3 sets

Reps: 10 to 12 repetitions.

Chair squats when Pregnant

Chair squats when Pregnant

2. Body-weight squats

When pregnant, your body weight may offer enough resistance for you to work out effectively. If you wish to squat with more weight, then pick up a pair of dumbbells.

Instructions for body-weight squats

1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Hold your arms straight out in front of your body.

3. This will help with balance (only if you are not holding dumbbells)

4. Lower yourself into a squat position.

5. Squat down as far as you’re comfortable while keeping your back straight.

6. Try to keep your weight in your heels.

7. Keep your knees behind or in line with your toes.

Return to starting position, squeezing your glutes on the way up.

Set: 3 sets

Reps: 10 to 12 repetitions.

Body-weight squatting during pregnancy

Body-weight squats

Squats with Dumbbells

 

Pregnancy exercise with Dumbbells

Pregnancy exercise with Dumbbells

3. Squats against wall with exercise ball

Here’s How to Do it

1. Stand against a wall with an exercise ball between the wall and your lower back.

2. Place feet shoulder-width apart.

3. Hold your arms straight out.

4. This will help with maintaining your balance.

5. Contract your abs. Pull in your belly-button.

6. Lower yourself into a sitting position.

7. Keeping your back straight and shoulders back.

8. Maintain a 90-degree angle at the knee when in a full squat.

9. Return to starting position, squeezing your glutes on the way up.

Sets: 3 sets

Reps: 10 to 12 repetitions.

4. Sumo squats while Pregnant

This squat variation targets the inner muscles of the thighs and glutes.

Instructions for Sumo squats

1. Start in a wide stance with your feet greater than shoulder-width apart.

2. You toes need to be pointing outward.

3. Your knees tracking in line with the toes.

4. Squat down into a squat position.

5. Keep your back straight.

6. Weight in your heels.

7. Keep your legs turned out throughout the movement.

8. Make sure your knees do not cave inwards.

9. Return to the starting position, squeezing your glutes on the way up.

Sets: 3 sets

Reps: 10 to 12 repetitions.

Safety note: Do not go past your normal range of motion.

Sumo squats while Pregnant

Sumo squats while Pregnant

5. Deep squat hold with pelvic floor contraction

Here’s How to Do it

1. Keep your head in line with your back.

2. Have your feet in a wide sumo squat position.

3. Squat as far down as you can.

4. Be sure to not overstretch.

7. Put your arms out for balance if required.

8. Perform a Kegel exercise (for your pelvic floor muscles) at the bottom of your squat.

9. Squeeze your pelvic floor as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine.

10. Hold this position for 10 -15 seconds.

11. Return to standing.

Reps: 5

Deep squat hold with pelvic floor contraction

Deep squat hold with pelvic floor contraction

Takeaway

Yes, you can do squats when pregnant. They are included in your yoga workouts as well as PregActive FIT classes. The key is to perform squats safely during pregnancy.

Listening to your body when workout out is important. You should not ignore the warning signs. If you feel unwell, or as if something is not right, please consult your doctor.

When you perform squats during pregnancy with the correct technique, it can improve your posture. They will help to strengthen your legs, glutes and core.

Squats also assist with the birthing process. Many of the positions you use will require leg strength and core strength.

Enjoy a FIT Pregnancy with PregActive

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