With women in their 30s now having more babies than younger moms in the United States, staying fit while pregnant has become more important than ever.[1] Before you write off the gym, take a page from NLA and Bodybuilding.com athlete Jessie Hilgenberg. This IFBB Pro is known for creating great routines (like her Rock the Dress Workout), but also for her no-nonsense work ethic and belief that all women, in all situations of life, should embrace strength training in one form or another—and all men should understand that need.

An increasing number of experts are in Jessie's corner. Research has shown that women who exercise may significantly lower their risk of a C-section and of experiencing certain birth complications, among other benefits.[2] But when you're a momma to be, you might need to make modifications as you get further along in your pregnancy, such as finding substitutes for machines or benches where you'd be lying face down.

Recently, Jessie took to Instagram to show her leg-day modification on a hamstring curl.

"I'm still trying to be creative with ways to incorporate hamstring curls without using the lying leg curl machine #BecausePregnant," she wrote.

Instead, Jessie uses sliders for hamstring and glute activation.

  1. Lay on your back with your legs extended, and place a Valslide or furniture slider under each heel. You can also perform this movement on a hard, slick floor using a towel or T-shirt. Your shoulders and head should rest on the floor as you drive your glutes down and heels up.
  2. Pull your heels to your butt while squeezing your hips to the sky.
  3. Slide your heels back out, never letting your butt or lower back touch the floor. Repeat for reps.

Jessie does note that this exercise was done earlier in her pregnancy, right before she hit 20 weeks and was still comfortable on her back for longer than a minute.

As she notes, "Lying in the supine position later in pregnancy can cause compression of an important vein that carries blood into the heart."

Train carefully, and always consult your doctor when questions arise.

Looking for an entire workout to stay in shape while pregnant? Check out Lifting for Two: Nicole Moneer's Full-Body Pregnancy Workout.

If you've given birth recently and are looking for a program to shed the baby weight, try Jamie Eason's 12-Week Post-Pregnancy plan. It's got a full nutrition, training, supplementation, and time management guide! 

Or maybe you just want unbelievable shoulders like Jessie's, no matter if you're pregnant or not. If so, try her popular Shoulder Smash workout!

  1. Mathews, T. J., & Hamilton, B. E. (2016). Mean Age of Mothers is on the Rise: United States, 2000-2014. NCHS data brief, (232), 1-8.
  2. Wiebe, H. W., Boulé, N. G., Chari, R., & Davenport, M. H. (2015). The effect of supervised prenatal exercise on fetal growth: a meta-analysis. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 125(5), 1185-1194.

About the Author

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith is a New York native who caught the fitness bug while earning a master's in journalism at the University of Missouri.

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