Prenatal Fitness Series - #2 The Airsquat
Prenatal fitness dos and don'ts series
In this series we're going to look at specific exercises and the pros and cons of doing them during pregnancy, so that you can decide for yourself if it's worth it.
# 2 - The Airsquat
Ok so this isn't an airsquat... but the great thing about this movement is it's really easy to progress... you have a living, growing weight (your baby)!! They get bigger and heavier by just a tiny amount each day, so you can squat with them until they are pretty big and you will get stronger progressively
Pros - Strengthens the glutes, legs, core and back - Can be coordinated with the breath and pelvic floor piston - Doesn't require any equipment - Gets the heart rate up - Can be loaded with weights in a variety of ways (kettlebell, barbell, dumbell, small child) - Low impact (no jumping) - Teaches basic coordination that carries over into a lot of other exercises - Strengthens the knee, ankle and hip joints - Can be adjusted to almost anyone - Doesn't put a huge amount of pressure on the pelvic floor - Is a basic functional movement pattern and has huge applicability to everyday life, even into old age (i.e, getting up and down from a chair!) - Involves using your core to stabilize you in a highly functional way
Cons - When done incorrectly, it can really mess up your knees, ankles and everything else (tons of people tell me they can't squat or "aren't allowed to squat" because it hurts their knees; but then they show me what they've been doing for the past decade and it all makes sense because they've been doing it wrong) - Many people will hold their breath at the bottom of the squat or throughout the movement - you need to not do that!! - If done for a lot of reps or with weight it can really suck! - Can put some pressure on the abdominal wall and pelvic floor - If you have poor mobility in the knee, hip or ankle, the range of motion you are able to do is often not enough to create change - Sometimes a big belly and/or boobs can get in the way!
Conclusion I really had to be creative to come up with some cons here. The airsquat is a great exercise for the whole body, and although you may not think of it as a "core" exercise, it is in fact one of the best. It can easily be loaded with weight to make it harder and you can decrease the range of motion to make it easier. You can coordinate the breath and pelvic floor to make it a great PF exercise - some are going as far as to call it the "new kegel"! (I don't agree with this, just that this is what some are saying!) Just make sure you get proper instruction on form.
What about after birth? Yep. It's also great postpartum. Depending on how you feel, you can start integrating this into your routine even a week after birth, perhaps with limited range of motion at first and build it up. This should be one of your main exercises.
Final comments You may need to include some glute activation exercises to ensure that you are using your bum and not your quads.