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.
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.
Begin lying flat on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Prepare by engaging your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles. Then drop one knee to the side creating an ‘arcing’ movement at the hip. Return to centre. Avoid moving the pelvis, just focus on opening the hip and then closing it. Alternate from side to side trying to maintain your pelvic floor and abdominal contraction for a few repetitions.
Begin on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Breathe in to prepare and engage the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles. Breathe out and float one hip to table top position. The hip bones should stay completely level as you lift one leg off the ground. Breathe in to lower the leg. Breathe out and lift the other side keeping the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles engaged for a few repetitions side to side.
Begin lying on your back. Breathe in to prepare as you have in the previous exercises. Exhale and float one hip to table top position. Inhale and raise the second leg. Exhale to lower one leg, then the other. Repeat and alternate which side you begin each exercise with. One thing to look out for in the exercise is your upper back and neck lifting up off the ground. To keep good posture you may need to focus on keeping your arms flat and shoulders down during the lift of the second leg.
From table top position the exercise becomes harder as you extend and lower one leg. The first focus is to straighten the knee. The second focus is to lower the straight leg. The depth of lowering is determined by your strength. If your back lifts or stomach arches then you’ve gone too far. Bring the leg back to the start position and alternate to the other side. Arms are flat on the floor and shoulders open. You may gently press the hands into the floor for additional support as needed.
This is a nice progression of the previous exercise. Begin lying on your back with feet flat and knees hip width apart. Inhale to prepare and engage the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles. Bring the arms a raised position and then bring each leg to table top position one at a time. Maintain the arms lifted while alternating legs for single leg extensions. By lifting your arms up you further challenge your control.
Following the routine from before, bring your arms and legs into a raised position.
Begin with both legs in table-top and arms lifting to the ceiling. Inhale to prepare and engage the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles. Exhale and extend opposite arm and leg. Inhale to return to the top. Exhale to move the opposite side and continue alternating between sides.
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.
This is the start position for all bridges: knees bent, feet flat and close to fingertips, shoulders flat and back of the neck long.
Aim to bring the feet close to the bottom so you can skim your heels with your fingertips. Prepare by squeezing the gluteal muscles and pushing heels into the floor. Then slowing roll up into a bridge not going higher than the bra-line. The aim is to use the gluteal muscles to create the lift, not the lower back muscles and to achieve this you might need to aim for a lower height.
After lifting into a bridge balance on one leg by extending the other into the air. The thighs stay level. Avoid dropping the pelvis to the side of the lifted leg. As possible, remain at the top of the bridge for the 45 second set while alternating sides, to practice weight shifting and pelvic control.
These can be done with the knee bent or straight on the raised leg. While maintaining a level pelvis raise your hips off the floor to complete a single leg bridge. Raise up and lower down on the same leg for the 45 second set.
If you are struggling with keeping the knees in line with the hips tying a theraband around the knees helps to engage the lateral hip muscles. Maintain a steady pressure on the theraband keeping the knees hip width apart and in line with your feet as you perform a supine bridge.
Place both feet on the ball. Push your arms into the floor and squeeze your gluteal muscles. Then lift your hips off the floor using the buttock and hamstring muscles. It is much harder to balance in this position.
Place both feet on the ball with knees straight. Push your arms into the floor and squeeze your gluteal muscles. Then lift your hips off the floor using the buttock and hamstring muscles. Once you have lifted into a straight leg bridge, roll the ball inwards until your feet rest flat on the ball. Then roll it outwards until your legs are straight. Continue to roll in and out for the full set or lower down between each repetition.
This is a great bridging exercise during the later stages of pregnancy because the hips stay below the heart. Begin with your head and shoulders resting on the ball, then lift the hips and balance. Continue to lift and lower the hips during the set. If you try to lift too high it is possible to experience neck and lower back pain. Make sure your focus is on using your buttock muscles to create the lift rather than focussing on height.
Begin with your head and shoulders resting on the ball, then lift the hips and balance. Flys are completed with straight arms and involve opening the arms and chest outwards and then reaching with straight arms to close at the top again. You should start by performing one lift and one fly before coming down and as your strength and balance improves, you can stay in the posture for longer periods during the set.
Begin with your head and shoulders resting on the ball, then lift the hips and balance. The chest press involves opening the hands and lowering them to be in line with the shoulders and then press back up to the top. You should start by performing one lift and one chest press before coming down and as your strength and balance improves, you can stay in the posture for longer periods during the set.
Begin with your head and shoulders resting on the ball, then lift the hips and balance. The tricep press involves bending your elbows to lower your arms above your head and then extend your elbows to lift the weights back up. You should start by performing one lift and one tricep press before coming down and as your strength and balance improves, you can stay in the posture for longer periods during the set.
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.
Begin lying on your side with your knees bent up. Ideally your heels will line up with your buttock. Squeeze your heels together and maintain this contact as you lift the top leg upwards using the muscles behind your hip in your buttock. Slowly lower back down and repeat.
You'll notice the feet are still together but now raised off the floor. The bottom knee doesn't raise up off the floor.
Still keep your heels firmly together as you raise the top leg. It’s tricky to keep the bottom leg up but makes the exercise harder and gives you more movement in the top leg. Continue to raise the top leg up and down for the duration of the set.
This is a slightly different variation of clams where you begin in the Clam 1 position and once the top leg is opened aim to keep your thigh completely still but straighten your knee. Then bent your knee. Try not to move the top leg forward or backwards at the hip as this will change your overall position. Continue to first open, then extend the leg, then reverse the movement to lower back down for the duration of the set.
The exercise is the same as Clam 1 but with a theraband wrapped around the knees.
Also referred to as hip adduction. Lift your top leg up and place it on the floor in front of your bottom leg.
Straighten your knee and flex your ankle towards your head. Then raise the bottom leg to strengthen the inner thigh. This is a prerequisite for double leg lifts. Slowly raise the bottom leg up and down for the duration of the set.
This works similar muscles to Clam 3 but from a different starting position. Lying with legs straight on the floor or with the bottom knee bent (depending on comfort), and raise your leg up to the side. I always aim for a slightly backward lift to further target the bottom muscles. A common mistake is to lift the leg forward in front of you. Continue to lift the leg up and down for the duration of the set.
A combination of the previous two exercises. Start by lifting the top leg, then hold it up and bring the bottom leg up to meet it and lower them both together. Repeat. Try maintain as much length through your side body (where my hand is) as possible. A common mistake is to squash your trunk into the floor to raise the second leg. Rather aim to keep a small gap between your stomach and the floor and make your legs do all the work.
Begin by lying over the ball and balancing on your side. Arms are strong, ankle strong and lifting your body upwards to the ceiling. The aim is to hold your balance still for the length of the 45 second set.
Once you have your balance on your side, try to raise the top leg using your bum muscles. Careful not to bring that leg forward or twist your body. Continue to slowly lift and lower the top leg for the duration of the set.
This is a great exercise for strength and balance. Begin on hands and knee. The hand, knee, shin and other foot are one straight line. Once you’ve reached this position then raise the top arm upwards to open up your upper body and balance on the straight line you created underneath you. The aim is to hold your balance for 45 seconds.
Once you've achieved your balance in this pose you can challenge yourself by lifting the top leg off the floor. You may choose to hover the leg and hold for 45 seconds or to slowly lift and lower that leg for a harder progression.
Begin with your elbow directly under your shoulder and forearm flat on the floor. Both feet are stacked on top of each other or with the top leg placed slightly behind the bottom.
The top arm raises to the ceiling or can be placed on your hip. Lift your hips up into a plank and slowly lower back down. Repeat this movement or sustain the hold for 45 seconds.
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.
Begin on hands and knees. Knees hip width apart and hands shoulder width apart. Your weight should be evenly spread through the four contact points and during each posture the aim is to try stay as central and balanced as possible.
Without moving your body weight try to raise one arm in front of you. The lift should come from your shoulder. Reach long out of the arm to prevent overloading the neck. Lower the arm down and lift the opposite side. Continue to alternate from left to right for the 45 seconds.
Without moving your body weight try to raise on leg behind you. The priority is to make the movement come from your buttock muscles and sometimes you can’t lift very high. That is ok. Extending your back to get the height is not ok. A good starting point can be to slide the leg out until it is straight keeping the big toe on the floor and then focus on the lift. Alternatively you can extend and lift at the same time. Lower the first leg and alternate to the other side, balancing from left to right for 45 seconds.
Combining the arm and leg extension adds a further element of balance. Make sure you extend the opposite arm to leg not the same side, and focus on keeping your back still and gaze down between your hands. Reach long out of your leg and arm like you are being pulled in each direction. Alternate from side to side for the 45 second set.
The donkey kick works your hip muscles is a different way. Begin with your knee bent and then kick your foot up towards the ceiling as though your are pushing it away from you. Make sure that push comes from your bottom, not back. Alternate lifting left and right legs for the 45 seconds.
Wrap the theraband around your foot and the secure it under your opposite hand.
Kick backwards into the band for increased resistance and strengthening through your hip. Make sure the band is securely tightened so it doesn’t flick back and hit you. Repeat on the same side for 45 seconds before swapping the theraband to the other side.
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.
Sitting on the floor or the edge of a step and bring your feet together. You may or may not hold onto the feet as your relax your knees outwards. This is a much more supported position than standing and doing a sideways lunge. You should feel the stretch in the meaty part of your inner thighs not your pubic bone or pelvis. Hold for 60 seconds.
Begin with both feet supported on the ball and arms across your chest or down by your side. This exercise is about pure rotation control not range. Roll the ball to one side keeping your shoulders and ribs down and then roll to the other side. It helps reduce stiffness in the lower back and re-educate your body how to use each level of your spine to rotate and twist.
In sitting with one leg bent up and the other one straight, lean forward with a straight back to stretch your hamstring. As you can see I can’t reach my toes so I am using the theraband to keep the best posture during the stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.
There are two positions for stretching your bottom muscles - this one and the 'position 4' stretch. This stretch involves bringing your leg across your body and towards the opposite elbow and stretches the outside of your bottom. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
This is an external rotation (ER) stretch that targets the deeper muscles in the hip. Focus on bringing the knee to the chest and you may push the knee of the stretching leg away as long as the stretch stays in your bottom and doesn’t go into the front of your hip. Hold for 30-60 seconds and then swap to the other side.
This is the same stretch as the previous one but in sitting, which is much easier during pregnancy and allows you to control how much you lean forward into the stretch.
This is a seated hamstring stretch that incorporates the side body and triceps. Start in sitting with the band around your foot and then lean sideways into the stretching leg. Keep your arm straight and high and then sit up straight, releasing the hamstring stretch component but activating your abdominals and triceps. Slowly lower back down to the side and repeat the mobilisation through your side body.
There are three images shown here for the kneeling hip flexor stretch - one pregnant, one not and the third with side flexion. The most important part of the stretch is to tuck your pelvis underneath i.e posteriorly tilt your pelvis to bring the stretch into the front of the hip. If you need more stretch then lean forward but usually this is enough to get a focussed stretch. Then breathe into the areas of tightness for the duration of the set.
In this version the arm is raised to increase the stretch and incorporate more of the side of the abdomen and back.
AKA grabbing the cat's tail or single leg lower back rotation with opposite leg quadricep stretch. I love this exercise but it combines a lot of different movements so it is quite advanced. Lie on your side and bring your top leg up and over to stretch and rotate your lower back. The leg has to be high enough that you can hold onto your knee. Then reach backwards and grab the other foot bringing that leg into a quad stretch. Your feet need to be resting on the floor. Your shoulder is likely to lift but just breathe into the movement and try twist your body backwards until both shoulders are flat.
Being on your hands and knees and if you need more space, place your knees wide apart but keep your feet together. Slowly move your hips backwards until you are resting on your ankles. Arms reached out in front. Hold the stretch and breathe into the areas where you feel tightness for the duration of the set.
Child’s pose focusses on ankle, knee, hip and back mobility. If your tummy gets in the way then use the ball to support your upper body while you still get the benefits for this restorative stretch. It is also great when you feel like there is no room in your belly or ribs to give the baby some space to move around. Your significant other can massage your back in this position too :) ... so many benefits.
This is a variation of child’s pose where I’ve shown how to focus the stretch more to one side by placing both arms on the same side. A great way to bring the stretch further up into the ribs and shoulders.
Also referred to as straight leg raise or hamstring stretch. The theraband is a great tool for assisting a hamstring stretch/straight leg raise. Aim to use your biceps to pull the leg upwards rather than lifting your shoulders and keep the other leg straight and in contact with the floor. For the best benefit, raise the leg and lower for the duration of the set rather than holding.
A great exercise for mobilising your spine in a supported position. The aim is full spine flexion to full spine extension. A common mistake in this position is to only arch your lower back and in the second position, to only press up between your shoulders. Make sure you involve the entire spine which involves the head and the pelvis. Continue to move from one range to the other for the duration of the set.
This stretch is safe for both during pregnancy and after, as you don’t spend much time lying flat on your back. Begin lying on your side with your arms on top of each other and knees bent. Reach the top arm up and across to the other side to stretch your upper back into rotation. Then return to the start and repeat. Try keep your hips facing forwards to isolate the movement to the upper back.
This is a great stretch for the side of your neck, shoulder and arm. Start in kneeling and then thread one arm through your body allowing the elbow to bend on the supporting arm to lower you down. Make sure the back on your hand is on the floor. Hold the end position for a few seconds and then come back to hands and knees. Repeat coming in and out of the posture for the duration of the set before moving to the other side.
Even during pregnancy you can still mobilise your upper back and shoulders with a modified range.
This is a great Yoga stretch that focusses on the back side on your body - shoulders, back, hamstrings and calves and it is safe to complete during pregnancy and after. Begin on your hands and knees, tuck your toes under and push your hips upwards keeping your back as straight as possible. You can stretch both calves or shift your weigth from side to side during the stretch.
A similar variation to downward facing dog but elbows are bent and you’re resting on your forearms. Begin with your knees down and on your forearms and then just lift your hips upwards.
This movement involves back extension but can be done on the floor so generally it is more appropriate after pregnancy. Begin with your hands in line with your shoulders and then slowly push yourself upwards to extend your lower back. You don’t have to go the whole way up, just as far as is comfortable and then lower back down.
With a foam roller you can release tightness through the front of your thighs either with your legs straight (seen here) or bent up. The upper body does most of the work to roll you up and down.
Sitting on the ball you can roll out tightness in your buttock. In this photo Julia is sitting straight which targets a different portion of the buttock. Your leg doesn’t have to be raised up. For a deeper stretch look at the next exercise.
In this image you can see my leg is bent up to rest my foot on top of my knee and I’ve turned my body to rest completely on that side. This is a more advanced and deeper stretch with the foam roller.
Use your upper body to support and move your body weight as your roll up and down on your calves. Try keep your feet relaxed so the roller can sink a little deeper into the muscles.
Also known as upper back extensions.
You can use the foam roller to stretch your upper back as seen here. Place the roller around the mid back and hold your head with your hands. Lift your bottom and roll up and down to find out where the sore and stiff spots are. Then put your bottom down and lean backwards over the roller to arch your upper back.
You can give the outer thigh a great massage in this pose. Support yourself with your elbow and have the top leg bent up to remove some of the weight from your bottom leg, and allow you to roll up and down. First move up and down the entire length of your tight to find the tighter spots. Then you can do a more focussed rolling movement over that area.
This is the final progression of child’s pose. If the full range is available and you’re looking for something more. Using the foam roller to increase the stretching movement forward while moving your hips backwards. A great way to open up the shoulders.
During pregnancy this is a great stretch for upper back extension without lying flat. Start with your shoulders on the ball and hands supporting your head and then lean backwards to stretch the upper back.
Place your hands across your lower back to support it and then arch backwards aiming not to compress your lower back but focus on opening your stomach and chest. Hold for a few seconds and return to standing. Repeat this backward bend for the duration of the set.
In sitting with feet and knees hip width apart. Slowly roll down through the entire spine and slide your hands down your shins to the floor. The return to sitting by slowly rolling back up. The stretch is aiming to mobilise the entire spine and create better articulation between each level of your back.
In standing aim to roll downwards creating an even curve throughout your lower back. If you’re restricted through your hamstrings then gently bend your knees. This exercise can also be done in sitting by just rolling forwards to place your chest on your knees. This is an important movement to regain after pregnancy and can be quite stiff at first. The aim is to roll down and roll back upwards. Repeat this rolling and flexing motion for the duration of the set.
There are two calf stretches, one with a bent knee and one with a straight knee. Place your hands on the wall and the leg you are stretching at the back. Keep your heel down and knee straight and push your leg backwards to feel the stretch in the calf muscles below your knee.
If you narrow your stance and then bend the front knee you’ll feel the stretch become more focussed to the bottom half of your calf - this is the soleus muscle. Stretching your calf with a bent knee can be very helpful if you suffer from ankle, achilles, or knee pain and it is a vital movement for being able to go up and down stairs or up and down hills.
Stretching your quads is an exercise you would have learnt as a child in school. Keep it simple. Balance on one leg and bring your heel up to your buttock. The trick is to not lean forward or backwards and try keep your knee as close to the standing knee as possible. Adding a pelvic tilt to bring your pelvis forward will help bring the stretch closer to your hip.
Interlace your fingers and turn your hands inside out to stretch your hands, wrists and between your shoulder blades. Hold for up to 30 seconds and then move into write flexion stretches. If this feels too long, move slowly between flexion and extension as feels right for you.
Place the back of your hands together and raise your elbows upwards to try get this reverse prayer position which stretches the back of your wrists and forearms. Hold for 30 seconds and then move into wrist extension stretches.
This is the same movement as the standing side stretch or sitting mermaid but the hips are straight and sitting on the ball can provide more support for your pelvis and back. These pictures show the ‘up and over’ movement which is important to create a stretch through the side body. You can hold the stretch or move in and out of the position for the duration of the set.
Another variation of the side body stretch. Use the swiss ball to support the inside hip and elbow and reach over the ball. This is a great precursor to the side balancing movements and side planks. The ball adds an element of balance to the stretch.
A side stretch with both of your legs bent up as seen here. With all side bending stretches aim to create as much room as you can in the ribs and avoid squashing down into the side you're bending towards. Lift up and out of both sides for the best stretch. You can choose to hold the stretch and focus on your breathing or moving in and out the stretch for the duration of the set.
This is a standing version of a side body stretch that you can do against the wall or doorway. It helps to stretch all the muscles in your ribs, shoulder, side of the trunk and lateral hips. My recommendation is to move into a stretch, breathe once into the stiffness and then come back out. Repeat to move in and out of the stretch.
A lovely pose for stretching the side body and hip. Begin in Warrior 2 which means front foot facing forwards with your knee bent and back foot outwards with foot flat. Then rest your elbow on the bent knee and reach upwards to the ceiling. Breathe into the areas of tightness and hold for the duration of the set.
Keeping the warrior lunge pose but sliding your hand down your leg and reaching upwards with the opposite arm. The movements will open your ribs, side body and hips but should not be painful. This is a more advanced Yoga stretches that can be done during pregnancy and after but without pain.
A great alternative to thread the needle or book opening stretches. This exercise also focusses on upper back rotation and is wonderful for the later stages of pregnancy. Begin in sitting with arms comfortably crossed on your chest. Turn to the right side and breathe in, breathe out and turn to the left, breathe in, breathe out and turn to the right and repeat.
A simple stretch isolated to the back of your shoulder and between your shoulder blades. Cross your arm on your chest and place your other hand just above the elbow to pull the arm further into a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
One of my favourite exercises of all time because so often people lose awareness and mobility through their pelvis. If this happens then the back and pelvis and hips start all moving together which can change how you move. In sitting place one hand on your belly and the other on your back. Without moving your body above your hands roll the ball forwards and backwards using your pelvis to rock the ball.
Stretch your triceps by lifting your arm up by your ear and then bending the elbow down your back. The other arm holds the arm upwards and helps support the shoulder during the stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Open the front of your shoulders and chest by interlacing your hands behind your back and raising your hands backwards. Try keep your head and chest upwards to target the shoulders. Hold for 60 seconds.
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.
Wrap the theraband around your back and under your arms. Press forward into a high press to strengthen the front of your shoulders and sitting posture.
Begin with your arm above your head and the other behind your back. Extend the top arm upwards by straightening the elbow to strengthen the tricep muscles.
Place the theraband under your feet and start with your arms by your side. Pull the band upwards by bending the elbows. Strengthen your biceps but avoid rolling forward through the shoulders.
Stretch the band open with arms high to strengthen the top of your shoulders and open the front of your chest. This is the opposite movement to the chest fly because you are pulling open as opposed to closing.
Also called shoulder external rotation. Slightly different to the chest openers because the shoulders rotate outwards. The elbows stay by the chest and the arms rotate to strengthen the back of your shoulders and rotator cuff.
This is a great variation of the standing theraband shoulder pull involving a split kneeling position. It’s harder than it looks to stay balanced as you pull the theraband backwards. Breathe in to prepare and engage your pelvic floor and TrA gently. Then pull the band backwards with straight arms feeling the muscles in your stomach and back of shoulders contract.
Once again the row is altered by starting in a kneeling position. If you need to focus on your balance this exercise will show you that, by making you wobbly. Breathe in to prepare and engage your pelvic floor and TrA gently. Then pull the band backwards into a high row squeezing the shoulder blades together.
This is a great combination of strength, mobility and balance. Do it in kneeling or standing. Pull the band backwards with one arm and combine it with twisting to that side.
This breaks the movement into one side external rotation and is combined with balancing on the opposite leg. A balance and strengthening exercise for your hip, spine and shoulder. The movement is still the same. Keep your elbow bent to 90 degrees and by your side and rotate outwards from the shoulder.
This breaks the movement into one side internal rotation and is combined with balancing on the same leg. A balance and strengthening exercise for your hip, spine and shoulder. The movement is still the same. Keep your elbow bent to 90 degrees and by your side and rotate inwards from the shoulder.
Tie the band around your knee and begin in standing with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Then squat back and downwards keeping the knees apart and band tight. It teaches you to use your hip muscles to control your knees during a squat.
You can do this in standing, lunging, kneeling or single leg balance. The aim is to twist and pull getting the muscles along the back of your body to work together to create the movement.
In standing with straight arms pull the band straight backwards without rolling your shoulders forward. This is a great exercise for strengthening your tummy muscles, pelvic floor, shoulders and back.
In standing bend your elbows and pull backwards to strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blades.
Combing a lunge with a shoulder pull is a great way to connect the shoulder, back and hip muscles together in one movement. Ideally start in standing with arms straight. Lunge down and as you stand back up pull the band backwards.
Combing a lunge with a shoulder row is a great way to connect the shoulder, back and hip muscles together in one movement. Ideally start in standing with arms straight. Lunge down and as you stand back up pull the band backwards.
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.
Begin in sitting (or standing) with weights by your side. Bend the elbows to raise the weights up and then lower back down. Aim to isolate the movement to the elbow and avoid rolling forward through the shoulders.
Begin in sitting with weights resting on shoulders. Raise the weights above your head and then lower them back down.
Begin with weights raised and elbows bent. Reach forward with the weight by straightening the elbow, then return and swap sides. Be mindful not to round forward from the shoulder.
Begin lying on the ball with knees on the floor. Lift your body off the ball to engage the muscles throughout your back. Gentle draw your stomach off the ball to avoid arching through the lower back. The wide row movement involves raising the weights sideways keeping elbows relatively straight then lower back down.
Begin lying on the ball with knees on the floor. Lift your body off the ball to engage the muscles throughout your back. Gentle draw your stomach off the ball to avoid arching through the lower back. The row movement involves raising the weights but lifting your elbows to your sides then lower back down.
Begin lying on the ball with knees on the floor. Lift your body off the ball to engage the muscles throughout your back. Gentle draw your stomach off the ball to avoid arching through the lower back. The tricep press involves holding your elbows by your sides and then extending the elbow to raise the weights backwards. Then bend the elbows to return to the beginning and repeat.
Tricep dips are targeting the back of the shoulder and elbow. Begin by sitting on a stool or step. Choose whether the legs are bent (easier) or straight (harder). Hold onto the bench with hands facing forward and lift your hips off. Then bend the elbows to lower your body downwards. Take care not to roll the shoulders forwards. Press through the elbows to straighten them and lift your body back up.
Push ups, planks & high level abs
For a kneeling pushup keep your hands underneath your shoulders and balance on your knees. Keep the hips forward to avoid sticking your bottom backwards. Then bend the elbows by your side to lower your body downwards. Keep the elbows as close to your ribs as you can. Push through the elbows to lift your body back to the start. Don’t go lower than the level of your shoulders.
For the full push up you begin in a full plank. The movement comes from the elbows. Bend your elbows keeping them as close to your ribs as possible. Lower down the best you can but don’t go lower than the level of the elbows. Push through the hands and straighten your arms to come back to the top.
This is a wall variation of a push up which doesn’t load your wrists and shoulders as much. Using the ball adds a great element of balance and keeps your tummy active as you try control it. You can do a wide or narrow elbow push up in this position.
Place your elbows on the ball and lean forward onto it. This is a standing plank. Move the ball up and down while keeping your body still to challenge your tummy muscles. Continue to roll the ball up and down for 45 seconds.
If you’re looking for a harder challenge than the swiss ball wall plank, perform the same movement of rolling the ball up and down the wall while balancing on one leg.
Line your hands up underneath your shoulders and place your feet together and lift your hips up into a full plank. Create a push forward from your hands and push backwards from your feet to lengthen your body. You might need to build up your endurance to hold for 45 seconds and during that time stay up for 10 seconds, take a quick break by dropping to your knees and then go back into the plank when you're ready to continue the exercise.
Line your elbows up underneath your shoulder and balance on your knees. You’ll start with your bum in the air. Then push your hips forward into the plank position. If possible, hold the plank for the 45 second set. If that feels like too much and you can't maintain a normal breathing pattern, then move slowly in and out of the plank during the set.
Another exercise that I have loved since I first learnt it. It provides a great abdominal workout and is safe as a regression to normal planks for building up strength. Begin kneeling with your elbows on the ball shoulder width apart and hands facing forwards. Try get your hips as far forward as possible to get into the ‘plank position’. Then hold the plank and roll the ball forward 3 inches and bring it back under your shoulders. You’re feel this in your abdominal muscles as they work to stabilise your spine and keep you still.
Walk out over the ball into a full plank with the ball at your mid thighs, just below your knees, or at the level of your feet. The further you walk out, the harder the exercise becomes. Hold your balance and then walk slowly backwards. Either continue to walk in and out or maintain the end range position for 45 seconds.
If you’re feeling confident in the plank position you may progress to the crunch which involves lifting your hips into the air as you bend your knees to bring the ball into your chest. Then push it back out to return to the plank. Continue to bring the ball in and push it out for the 45 second duration. If this feels too hard you can perform a single crunch and then walk back in for a small break before repeating.
Squats, lunges & dead lifts
This image shows the posture for single leg balance which is also the starting position for arabesque (the next exercise). You may choose to hold onto weights or have your hands free. The main focus before moving onto the next balance exercises is to be able to stand well on one leg without too much weight shift in your hips. Imagine that you are still standing on both legs as you lift one off the ground. If this is too hard to maintain your balance then gently holding onto the wall or a bench top is a great way to practice the best technique.
This may also be known as a single leg dead lift. Essentially it is a balance exercise that requires tipping forward from the hip. The aim is to keep the upper body straight and drop it down in equal amounts to how much the back leg lifts up. Lower down until you feel your hamstring (in the back of your thigh) tighten, then drive back up into standing by pushing through the heel. Repeat lowering down and coming back up for the duration of the 45 second set.
Begin standing on one leg and point the other behind. Lower forward into a single leg deadlift position/single leg arabesque. Once balanced bend the standing leg to lower into a single leg squat. Then straighten the knee to stand back up. You should feel this in the hip and buttock of the standing leg.
You should finish in an arabesque position. Continue to squat up and down for the duration of the 45 second set.
Begin with a more narrow stance than the traditional lunge. All the weight is on your front leg and you are gently resting on your toes on the back leg.
This lunge is different to a standard lunge as it targets the gluteal muscles on the front leg more than the quadriceps on the back leg. As you lunge down sit the hips back and lean the body forward. The back stays straight as the hips fold into flexion. The shoulders should stay relatively aligned with the front knee which means you have to lean forward slightly and this allows you to push your hips backwards and lower down through the heel. Then drive back up through the heel to stand back up. Continue to lunge down and up for the 45 second set.
A progression of the narrow gluteal lunge involving weights. Start with weights by your side then lunge down. On the way back up lift the weights through a bicep curl and into an overhead press. Then lower the arms and lunge back down. Continue this movement for the 45 second set.
This lunge may appear more familiar and it targets mostly the quadriceps over the bottom muscles. Begin with a wider stance. Bend both knees to lower down into the lunge keeping your back vertical. Aim to keep the front knee from moving forward over the ankle and drop the back knee straight down. This requires quite a wide stance. Push through the heel of the front foot and toes of the back to return to standing. Continue to lunge up and down for the duration of the 45 second set.
The lunge is done with your back leg resting on a stool or ball. The bulgarian lunge is all about sitting your weight backwards as you squat down. It is a progression from the narrow based gluteal lunge. Try minimise how much your knee travels forward over your foot. This will activate the stabilising muscles in your hip and knee. As you squat, sit your hips backwards and then stand back up pushing through your heel. The front leg is doing all the work.
With your leg on the ball you will feel more wobbly and also have more range to sit backwards.
As you can see my leg is moving backwards as I squat backwards on the front leg. Then draw the ball back in as you stand up. Keep the front leg doing all the work. Continue to lunge down and up for the 45 second set.
Place the ball behind your back but not too low down. Ideally just above your lower back. Feet are hip width apart or a bit wider. Lean into the wall and walk your feet forward so they are in front of your hips. Bend your knees to squat down. Aim to keep your knees over your ankles and shins vertical. A common mistake is to have the feet too close and the knees moving forward over the knees.
Begin with weights in hands and the same setup as the swiss ball wall squat. As you squat down bend your elbows to raise the weights up into a bicep curl. Lower them back down by your side as you stand back up. Continue to squat up and down for the 45 second set.
Begin with weights in hands at shoulder height and the same setup as the swiss ball wall squat. As you squat down raise the weights above your head. Lower them back down to shoulder height as you stand back up. Continue to squat down and up for the 45 second set.
Begin sitting with your feet and knees hip width apart and weight evenly spread on each side. Lean your body forward to transfer your weight onto your feet. Drive through your heels to lift your body up into standing. When sitting back down moving your hips backwards and aim to keep your knees from moving forward over your ankles or coming together in the centre.
Begin in standing with feet slightly wider than hip width apart. As you squat down move your hips as far back as possible to prevent the knees from coming forward over the ankles. Drive through the heels to stand back up. Always allow your upper body to lean forward slightly so the work comes from the hips and buttock and not the knees and lower back.
Begin in standing with feet slightly wider than hip width apart. As you squat down move your hips as far back as possible to prevent the knees from coming forward over the ankles. Drive through the heels to stand back up. Always allow your upper body to lean forward slightly so the work comes from the hips and buttock and not the knees and lower back. This exercise can be progressed but holding heights down by your side to increase the load.
Begin by balancing on one leg with weights on top of shoulders. Then raise both arms overhead without losing balance.
Start by standing with your feet hip width apart and toes facing forward. Hold the weight in the centre of your body. Lower the weight straight down to the floor by folding at the hips and pushing your hips backwards. The knees bend slightly to maintain control but the main movement is at the hips. Lower the weight down until you feel the back of your thighs engage/tighten and then drive back up into standing through your heels. The back stays straight and the weight should stay pretty close to your knees.