Exercising during pregnancy has many benefits. It helps to reduce your risk of complications, alleviates back pain, pelvic pain, improves your mood, posture, sleep, and gives you the added benefit of extra energy and strength. Many expecting moms wonder how they’ll stay fit during pregnancy and what moves are safe and not safe for both baby and mom. The good news is, toning your arms while pregnant is safe, and the triceps kickback is a great place to start.
The Move: Triceps Kickback
The Verdict: Safe!
The triceps kickback is an excellent exercise anytime, and especially during pregnancy. Slow, controlled strength training is great for the entire body, building strength and stamina for birth and paving the way for a smooth recovery. In addition to strengthening the triceps, kickbacks also retract the shoulder blades, correcting a common postural tendency to over-lengthen the upper back muscles while tightening the chest and rounding the shoulders.
This postural imbalance is called kyphosis, and it is more common during and after pregnancy due to heavier breasts and the daily activities of holding, feeding and caring for a newborn. Strengthening the upper back while releasing the chest helps to restore healthy posture and alignment while alleviating any discomfort. Strong triceps also come in handy when easing yourself out of a low chair, pushing yourself up to seated from a side-lying position, and for strength in the many new movements, you will be making on a daily basis with a newborn.
Tips for toning your arms while pregnant with the triceps kickback.
Avoid Momentum (do not swing)
During pregnancy, joints are hypermobile due to the hormones relaxin and elevated levels of progesterone. Swinging or using momentum places strain on your joints while lowering the workload on your muscles. This puts you at a high risk of injury without the benefits of the exercise. To maximize your triceps kickback slowly perform each exercise with control through the entire range of motion. And to learn more about the hormones that flood your body during pregnancy check out this cheat sheet.
Keep One Foot Forward
In order to avoid straining your back while toning your arms with the triceps kickback, keep one foot forward. I don’t recommend doing this exercise with your feet parallel, because it would require unsupported forward flexion (bending over without support). Back pain is a common symptom of pregnancy thanks to the weight gain, posture change, hormone change, and even diastasis recti, so always keep one foot forward to protect your core and back health.
Avoid Locking Out Your Knees and Joints
Similar to swinging a weight, locking your knees while performing a triceps kickback places unnecessary strain on your joints and allows the muscle to rest, which counterproductive to the exercise. It’s most common for people to lock out the back knee when performing kickbacks, so be mindful to keep a slight bend in your rear leg.
Exhale on Exertion
With every repetition, exhale and draw your abs up and into the spine on the “work” of the kickback – this means exhaling and engaging the abdominal muscles in an upward lift as you extend the arms to lift the weight. This coordination of breath and muscle engagement healthfully recruits the deep core, activating the transverse abdominis while decreasing intra-abdominal pressure. This vital action allows you to safely perform the exercise while protecting both your back and pelvic floor.
Maintaining your strength, protecting your core, back, and pelvic floor while pregnant ensures a healthier, happier you (and baby). Learn more about what exercises are safe during pregnancy:
- Planks: Safe or Unsafe?
- Replace crunches and double leg lifts with this core exercise
- How can I safely stretch my abdominal muscles?
For in-depth coaching in triceps kickbacks and hundreds of other exercises that are safe and beneficial during pregnancy, check out our OB-endorsed EMbody Prepare™ program.