Pregnancy Workout for the Butt & Legs

Whether you're a pregnant woman trying desperately to hold onto that pre-baby figure or are fully embracing your new ever-changing body, exercising regularly should be at the top of your to-do list throughout your pregnancy. Exercise during pregnancy will not only help keep weight gain at bay but may also benefit baby.

A workout for the butt and legs is safe to do throughout your pregnancy and will help keep your hips and thighs strong -- a perk during and after pregnancy. Consult with your OB or midwife to ensure you and your baby are healthy enough for exercise.

Preheat the Oven

Before beginning any workout, especially during pregnancy, it's imperative that you perform a five- to 10-minute warm-up.

An effective warm-up will prepare your body for exercise, reducing your risk of injury and preventing unnecessary stress for your baby. Light aerobic activity such as walking, elliptical training or rowing will sufficiently increase your heart rate and get your blood flowing.

Get Those Heartrates Up

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Cardiovascular exercise is a useful ingredient in an effective butt and leg workout. Choose modes of exercise you are comfortable with, and keep in mind you may have to change it up as your body transforms. For example, while stair-stepping may be useful for working your butt and legs during your first and second trimesters, it may become hazardous as your belly grows and your center of gravity changes.

Elliptical training, stationary cycling, swimming and incline training on a treadmill are all effective alternatives for targeting your butt and legs.

The American Council on Exercise recommends performing cardio three to five times per week for no longer than 45 minutes per day to prevent negatively impacting your baby's weight. Maintain a comfortable pace during your workout and avoid exercising to exhaustion.

Work it Baby

Strength training is a must if you're looking to strengthen your butt and legs.

Most strength exercises are safe during pregnancy as long as you avoid heavy weightlifting that requires you to strain or hold your breath, known as the valsalva maneuver. Squats, lunges, step-ups, hip extensions and glute bridges will all adequately target your butt and legs. Strength training exercises can be preformed three nonconsecutive days per week.

Allow for at least 48 hours of rest between sessions to ensure complete muscle recovery. Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise.

Slow it Down and Stretch it Out

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Your butt and leg workout is not complete without a proper cool-down period, which is just as important as the warm-up.

The cool-down allows your body to gradually return to resting levels, prevents blood pooling and may reduce muscle soreness.

Your cool-down should consist of light activity such as walking or cycling.

Perform the activity for five to 10 minutes, gradually decreasing your intensity.

Finish your workout by thoroughly stretching your worked muscles, mainly your quads, hamstrings and glutes. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.