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3 Full-Body Exercises with Dumbbells

There is no substitute for a strong body when it comes to pregnancy and new motherhood. So we asked trainer Noell Yanik, of Noell Yanik Fitness, for three strength-building moves that work well for both pregnant women and new moms alike. Yanik, who is expecting her second child in January, did just that and threw in a dumbbell for fun. (Beginners can start with a light weight, or none at all, until each movement is mastered; for more experienced exercisers, Yanik recommends using a 15-pound dumbbell, but choose a weight that suits your needs.) The exercises are compound movements that work multiple body parts simultaneously. “Posture and holding your core in throughout each of these is the most important component if you want to avoid injury and get fast results,” she explains.

The trio is also quick, efficient and able to lay the groundwork for getting into a fitness groove—a feat that can be challenging, thanks to the numerous shifts, hormonal and otherwise, that occur during and after pregnancy. “Your body does crave forms of consistency during a time of dramatic change," she says. "Exercise, along with a clean diet, can really help it cope with the adjustments. You’re not only doing what’s best for your body, but you’ll feel much more energized and more optimistic overall.”

Reverse Lunge with Row to Chair Pose
(10 reps each side for 3 rounds)

Start with a dumbbell in your right hand. Squat in chair pose (legs together, weight in your heels, belly pulled in, chest lifted) and keep your left leg in place as you step your right foot back in a controlled motion. Perform a row with your right arm, keeping your elbow close to your body. Squeeze your inner thighs together as you step your right foot back in line with your left. Do 10 reps. Stand, shake it out and reposition your chair pose. Do 10 reps on the other side.

Sumo Squat with Pivot Press
(10 reps for 3 rounds with a 30-second rest between rounds)

Begin in a sumo squat with your weight in your heels, back straight, chest lifted. Hold a dumbbell by its ends between your feet. Stand up with power as you curl the dumbbell to your chest and pivot both feet to the right. As you raise the dumbbell overhead, be sure to squeeze your thighs together and keep your core tight. (As you pivot, think of pressing the floor away with your left toes.) Return to the starting position and repeat the movement on the left side. That is one rep. Do 10 reps total.

Triceps Pullover to Single-Leg Crunch
(10 reps for 4 rounds with a 15-second rest between rounds)

Note: Moms-to-be that are four months pregnant or more should modify this move: Do a 30-second side plank on both sides. If weight is desired, add a row with a dumbbell.

Lie on the floor with your legs zipped together from knees to pubic bone. Tuck your tailbone under and pull your belly button to your spine to eliminate a curve in your back. Keep your body tight and engaged, from knees to pubic bone to sternum, for the entire move. Extend your right leg, keeping it in line with your left leg, and flex your foot. Extend the dumbbell over your chest and lock out your arms as you inhale slowly and lower the dumbbell overhead, feeling the stretch in your armpit (aka, your soon-to-be-former bra-fat area). Exhale and contract your shoulder, back and chest muscles as you lift the dumbbell back over your chest. That is one rep. Do 10 reps. Rest for 15 seconds. Do 10 reps with the left leg extended.

As always, check with your health care professional before starting a new workout.

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