Glossary of exercises

In the glossary you will find a description of the exercises. There are in no particular order and clumped together in floor exercises, ball exercises, theraband and weights. What you will notice as you look through the glossary is that some movements i.e. chest press, can be done in several positions. The first is as a push up on the floor, the second as a push up on the wall with the ball, the third is as a chest press with weights with your back on the ball, and the fourth is with a theraband in sitting, kneeing or standing. The reason I wanted to include the glossary is to allow you to choose the best exercise that works for you. If there is an exercise in any program which doesn't suit your body, use the glossary to find a suitable alternative that still focusses on the same movement and muscle groups.

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Dead bug series.

The following series of exercises are called dead bugs. Why? Because as you slowly move your arms and legs in space you look like a slowly dying beetle. It’s a bit sad but I didn’t come up with the name and don’t worry it is great for your abs and for training stability around the spine. Each exercises has a slightly different focus for training hip movements, while strengthening your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.

Each movement is harder than the previous. The movements are done slowly. Take care not to strain the lower back. If you notice that your back is being forced into the floor or lifting up off the floor during movement, this is a sign that you are bracing with you back muscles which is not the aim. Imagine there is a blueberry under your spine which you neither wish to squash or let your back lift off during the movements. Also watch for bulging of the stomach muscles. As you move the hip and leg in each position there should be no change in the flatness of your stomach muscles. Stay flat and controlled. Engaging the pelvic floor muscles and gently drawing your stomach below your belly button downwards towards your spine is a great way to keep the larger surface muscles from lifting.

These exercises are ideal when lying on your back is comfortable. Mostly they are used after childbirth to retrain pelvic floor and abdominal control. These exercises should be completed with excellent control before attempting more challenging abdominal exercises such as crunches, sit ups and planks. For each exercise slowly alternate between moving the left and right leg for the 45 second sets. 

Bridging series

The following exercises all involve bridging. Bridging is a great exercise to strengthen the gluteal and hamstring muscles. It also helps with spine flexibility and articulation. Imagine your spine is a pearl necklace and as you move up and down through the exercise, lay one pearl down at a time. 

After 16 weeks gestation it is recommended not to spend prolonged periods of time on your back. You can use the swiss ball to change the position of your hips relative to your heart by keeping your hips slightly lower and still performing a bridge. If you're experiencing any low back pain or pressure you might be trying to lift the bridge too high. I would recommend avoiding lifting your hips to the level of your heart with the swiss ball exercises and with the floor exercises, don't lift to the point that your back arches. The purpose of bridging is to strengthen the gluteal muscles. If the lower back is extending and back muscles contracting you will miss the point of the exercise. Lift only as high as you can control.

Side lying floor exercises

These are great for strengthening the lateral hip muscles and lateral abdominal wall. In this position you can still engage your pelvic floor and lower abdominals. Keep the movements small and localised to the hip muscles. Avoid arching your back and using your back to block/stabilise the movement. Side lying exercises are safe during pregnancy. The only limitation is comfort of lying on the bottom hip. Make sure your mat is cushioned enough to avoid compression. If you experience any pelvic pain these exercises are not advised.

Kneeling floor series

The kneeling floor series are great exercises to use during pregnancy to strengthen your abdominal muscles, back and hip strength and they will help your keep your shoulders strong. After pregnancy these exercises are the precursors to being able to progress to a full pushup or plank. All exercises begin on your hands and knees with knees directly under your hips and hands under shoulders. If you suffer from wrist pain in this position you may choose to hold onto a weight to keep your wrist straight. Prepare for each movement by gently engaging your pelvic floor muscles and softly hugging your belly button towards your spine. When you begin to move the arm or leg it is important not to move the rest of your body. Imagine you are balancing a glass of water on the back of your pelvis and you want to keep that region still while your make the movement come from your hip muscles. Common mistakes are to shift your body weight entirely over the leg that stays on the floor and this results in your back twisting and arching and your hip not doing any work.

Mobility & Flexibility exercises

The following series of exercises is all about stretching, spinal flexibility and keeping your body mobile. I’ve tried to incorporate at least one stretch for most areas of the body. You may wish to spend some time on your days off continuing to move and stretch your body. There is a big focus throughout the program on maintaining the mobility in your back, neck, hips and shoulders but if there are specific areas in your body that you know respond really well to stretches please add them in. You know your body better than me and we all know intrinsically what makes us feel the best.

strengthening with theraband

I love using the theraband as it offers resistance through range. Essentially these movements can be done with a theraband or with free weights but I wanted to teach you both so that you can pick a variation that works for you. When using the theraband there is a risk that you don’t finish the movement and often this occurs if the band is too tight to start with. I recommend the green band for offering the best resistance but if you’re super strong you can try the blue or black. Remember technique and quality is the aim not brute strength.

Strengthening with weights

The following exercises describe upper body strengthening. For each exercise I would encourage you to first engage your pelvic floor muscles and deep abdominal muscles (gently) especially when raising arms overhead as this can create a downward pressure on the pelvic floor, which you would like to prepare for and control for. It’s a great way to progress your pelvic floor exercises into more functional movements. Common mistakes that people make with arm weights is not controlling the downward phase or lower phase which can lead to the shoulder dragging forwards. Aim to isolate the movements to the regions involved.

Push ups, planks & high level abs