Harley Pasternak: The Dos and Don’ts of Your Pregnancy Workout

12/11/2013 at 11:57 AM ET

Megan Fox pregnant
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. Tweet him @harleypasternak.

Megan Fox, Gwen StefaniOlivia Wilde, Kerry WashingtonDrew Barrymore and my wife. What do these leading ladies all have in common? They’re all expecting babies. It seems like almost every day a different celebrity confirms her pregnancy in the news.

This week’s blog is dedicated to all the pregnant women and their supportive friends and family out there. I’ve worked with a number of stars on their during- and post-pregnancy bodies, including Hilary Duff, Jessica Simpson, Alicia Keys and Milla Jovovich. Today, I want to share with you my top tips for a comprehensive pregnancy workout program.

Notwithstanding your doctor’s specific orders, an exercise program is a key component to a healthy pregnancy and easier delivery. Of course, please consult your physician before starting any of the suggestions below, as every woman and every pregnancy is different.

DO lace up those sneakers.

It’s not news that I think everyone should walk at least 10,000 steps each day. This guideline applies to pregnant women as well. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that women with normal pregnancies should moderately exercise for 30 minutes or more each day, most days of the week. So, get a pair of comfy shoes and go for a walk or hike with friends. Too cold outside? Walk on a treadmill and return phone calls while you’re doing it.

DON’T do crunches.

Regardless of your fitness level at the beginning of your pregnancy, your body is bound to experience changes. As you enter your second trimester, modify any exercises that involve lying on your back, which can restrict blood flow. That means no more crunches. Plus, your abs are slowly stretching out to make room for the baby, and contracting them is counterproductive. In place of crunches, do side bends instead.

DO maintain a resistance training program.

Everything from bicep curls and tricep extensions to lat pull-downs, squats and lunges—it’s all on the table until you deliver. For a specific routine, my 5-Factor Fitness book covers it all. The important thing is to stay off your stomach and your back throughout the second and third trimesters. Modify exercises as your body permits.

DON’T overheat.  

Throughout your entire pregnancy,you should try to keep your body’s temperature properly regulated. That’s why doctors often recommend that pregnant women stay out of steam rooms, saunas or hot tubs. So, now is definitely not the time to take up hot yoga. Try a slow-moving class that won’t leave you dripping in sweat. Pre-natal yoga classes focus on breathing and meditation, while introducing stretches and exercises designed for expecting women. Plus, they’re also a great way to meet other soon-to-be mothers.

The moral of the story: If you’re already an active person, pregnancy shouldn’t stop you from working out. And if you have never been a ‘workout person,’ now is a great time to get in shape—for you and your baby.

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