Squat & Scapular Squeeze: a perfect combo for working the upper and lower body.

Squats Rock. Period. One of the best exercises if you are pregnant or postnatal. They strengthen your legs, bum, thighs, work your pelvic floor and your core. Just to add in a bit extra I’ve used a resisitance band to work the upper back too. A fabulous all-rounder of an exercise.

If you aren’t pregnant/postnatal this is ALSO a fabulous exercise. Try it out and let me know how you find it.

Squats – I’m a fan. How to perfect your technique.

Squats are back people and they rock. I’ve always been a fan of the squat, now that I’ve learnt even more about the body I’m an even bigger fan…. and it’s not just me, squats are everywhere I look. Why?

1. They work your pelvic floor without you having to think about switching it on… this happens when you push up to standing from your squat.

2.  They’re simple and safe to perform throughout pregnancy, post-natally and beyond. 

3.  They work your thighs and glutes, perfect for toning those areas and for helping with weak gluts which is a frequent issues I see in people.

4. They are functional, so they train you for everyday activities. I squat when picking things up, and putting the washing in the machine for example.

Pilates with Priya: how to perfect your squat
Priya squats whilst pregnant.


Start in neutral with your feet hip distance apart, in parallel. Check your pelvis is in neutral, your shoulders blades are down in your back and your core is engaged.

Now sink your weight back, letting your hips go back and feeling the weight go right into your heels so your gluts engage. You may feel you are about to topple over so try it out near a chair or windowsill to start with, preferably with a mirror nearby.


Now in that squatting position check in a mirror that:

  • your back is not arched
  • you are not leaning too far forward through your upper body
  • your knees should not be further forward than your toes, if you can keep them over your ankles
  • your heels are down
  • you have bent from your hips and not your back
  • your core is still engaged

If you are pregnant the added bonus is… They prepare your body for labour (particularly useful if you’re wanting an active birth where you’re encouraged to stay active and move around during labour).

Now get squatting!


Strengthen your gluts (bum toners)

 The gluts have become something of a hobby horse of mine lately. Why? Because I’ve noticed so many of my clients need to strengthen them, or cannot work them in certain exercises.

The gluteals are made up of 3 parts: gluteus maximus, minimus and medius. In general terms these are the bum muscles 😉 Weak gluts can lead to lower back pain, poor posture and a saggy bum!

Gluteus maximus is the heaviest muscle in the body and makes up the bulk of the bottom. It attaches in the hip, goes round to the sacrum and coccyx, then inserts into the femur and IT band. A big muscle. It is used in movements that extend the hip such as getting up from sitting and running, walking up stairs and jumping. I certainly notice these muscles are weak in a lot of my postnatal clients, usually as a result of poor posture in pregnancy and post-birth but also as a result of SPD/pelvic girdle pain.

Gluteus medius and minimus are a deeper muscles that helps support the pelvis. They are used for movements that require moving the hip to the side, such as a side step. A tight muscle can lead to lower back, hip and knee pain.

Glut strengtheners:

Shoulder bridge.

One of my fav exercises. However you really need to make sure you are squeezing and using your bum muscles when doing this so you don’t compensate and use the lower back muscles.

Pilates with Priya: Glut strengtheners, shoulder bridge

Glut Extension prone.

Try lying on your tummy and lifting one leg by squeezing in the bum. Again not using the lower back but use the glut to do the work here. If it isn’t working, try turning you heels in and your toes out (think ballet first position).

Pilates with Priya: Glut strengtheners, glut extension

Oyster or clam.

More for gluteus medius and minimus. Make sure you don’t roll back through the hips as you do this one.

Pilates with Priya: Glut strengtheners, oyster

Side lying leg lift.

Another for the glut medius and minimus. Focus on leg length and staying stretched out thought the waist (no squidging!). You should find you are not able to life the leg too high if you are stretched out.

Pilates with Priya: Glut strengtheners, side leg lift

Other good exercises include squats, plies and walking up hills or stairs squeezing your bum. My postnatal DVD “Beyond your Bump” has some good glut exercises on it that are suitable for all types of people, not just post-birth.

Watch out for glut stretches on a blog post very soon.