Also important to know is how to determine how much weight you should use. Start with a light weight and perform a set. Continue adding weight until you can do the desired number of reps with good form, which includes moving slowly enough that you're using muscle—and not momentum—to lift the weight. The last rep should be difficult, but not impossible, and you should be able to keep good form while doing it.
Flexibility exercise, or stretching, is a vital component of any exercise regimen. The primary purpose of flexibility training is to increase your range of motion, especially when it comes to muscles and joints. Although flexibility exercise will not improve your endurance or strength as cardio or anaerobic exercise would, flexibility training helps your body maintain its natural alignment. By doing so, flexibility exercise makes your body significantly less prone to injury during cardio or anaerobic exercise. Additionally, practicing flexibility training will increase your freedom of movement in a way that makes everyday activities easier. Tasks such as reaching up for an object on a shelf, getting up from a chair, or even sitting in confined spaces for long periods of time will greatly benefit from flexibility training.
If you've been to yoga before, you'll recognize this as a near chaturanga—but a little faster. Start in a down dog position with hands on the ground, hips high in the air, and feet on the ground so you form a triangle shape. In a fluid motion, dive head toward the floor, coming into a low push-up position, and then swoop chest forward and up so you end in an upward dog position. From there, push hips up to return to starting position.
Barre workouts are appropriate for individuals of all fitness levels. It is ideal for individuals who wish to improve their core strength and posture. Many of us often sit in a hunched position at a desk or in front of a computer for long periods, and it takes its toll over time. Barre is appropriate for individuals who are seeking an intense but low-impact workout that will offer quick results.
Okay, this one if for the kids, but grown-ups can do it to too. With animated instructions, catchy music, and all the basics of the other full-body workouts, this is another top choice overall. The exercises include some more advanced moves, like tricep dips with a chair and push-ups with rotation, so it’s a great one to do with your kids.
Lauren Duhamel, a trainer for modelFIT says doing 30 seconds of sumo squats will transform the glutes and inner thighs. “Take a wide stance with your feet turned out instead of facing straight forward. Keep all your weight on your heels and slowly bend your knees and sit your booty back and down,” she explains. “Then, press back up without locking out your knees. Do ten of these then hold in a low squat for ten seconds.”
In 1912, John Shields Fairbairn, a leading consultant obstetrician at St Thomas Maternity Hospital, London, started a program to revolutionize the medical approach to child delivery.22 Polden M, Mantle J. Physiotherapy in obstetrics and gynaecology. 2nd ed. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann; 2004. [Google Scholar] This aimed to replace the 19th century medical practice of heavily medicating women during labor and the common use of force to deliver. To implement his vision of providing pregnant women with education and natural physical health for childbirth and recovery, Fairbairn chose Midwife and Physiotherapist Minnie Randell (1875–1974) to lead the newly founded St Thomas School of Physiotherapy, which served as the project’s education and training center.22,23 Polden M, Mantle J. Physiotherapy in obstetrics and gynaecology. 2nd ed. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann; 2004.
Active recovery is recommended after participating in physical exercise because it removes lactate from the blood more quickly than inactive recovery. Removing lactate from circulation allows for an easy decline in body temperature, which can also benefit the immune system, as an individual may be vulnerable to minor illnesses if the body temperature drops too abruptly after physical exercise.
An opposite arm to leg crunch will tone the abs and improves posture by strengthening the back. Duhamel says to “lay down flat on your back raise your right arm above your head and then lift the left leg up. While the leg is lifting, you lift the right arm and reach the hand to meet the outer corner of the left foot.” Be sure to focus on finding that rotation and do not let the foot or hand touch the ground. Do this move on each side for 30 seconds per side.
Instructor Leah Sarago offers moms-to-be six 15-minute workouts in Fit + Sleek Prenatal Physique. Choose from cardio (think lunge variations with leg and arm lifts), bump-friendly core sessions and upper-body mat exercises. String a few together for a longer workout, or "pick just one if you want to ease up as your pregnancy progresses," our due-any-day tester suggested.