Getting Pregnant? What About Exercise?
So you’re going to be a mommy, that’s great, congratulations and all that wonderful cheery stuff! But what about exercising? Everyone is all happy and excited about someone getting pregnant, except maybe some of the moms who have been working so diligently on maintaining their fitness and exercising regularly. She’s finally gotten down to wearing that little black dress and looking fabulous (which is probably how this happened in the first place) and now this…
Great, time to eat for two and kick back for a while I guess.
Nope, think again Mom! Mom’s that exercise are twice as likely to have easier pregnancies and can return to daily activities far faster than those who are inactive or don’t exercise enough. It’s a simple training effect. Moms who have been exercising have easier pregnancies, have more energy and can “bounce back” far easier than moms who’ve succumbed to repeat episodes of “House of Cards” (which is overly addicting by the way).
Currently Training Moms
The amount and types of exercise that mothers can handle while pregnant really depends on where they’re starting out. Moms who’ve been actively exercising, lifting weights, running and the like can continue on with their programs without too many problems. Their bodies are strong and resilient enough to handle both child and mom.
Some precautions need to be taken in the later months as pregnancy comes to full term; however, it’s not a death sentence to not partake in the occasional squatting and deadlifting session provided that form is kept strict and you go within your tolerance levels. This is not the time to be doing max rep maxes or a superset of burpees and prowler sprints, but you can still lift heavy weights and adhere to a good amount of cardiovascular exercise.
Another way to look at this is not to exceed a certain rating of perceived exertion value of 6-7 during the later stages of pregnancy to avoid overstressing the system. This means it should be hard, you may be breathing hard, but it shouldn’t feel overly strenuous.
Training can still happen, but it will fluctuate and vary upon the day and how the mother in question feels. Just like in life, you’re going to have ups and downs. Some days you may just have to take it easy, go for a walk and lift some lighter weights. Other days you might be ready to crush some nice sumo kettlebell deadlifts and TRX rows with a vengeance. It all depends upon how you feel.
For new exercising Moms, the amount of exercise is going to be directly related to what they’re used to and getting proper instruction on how to perform basic weight lifting movements. Starting an overly intense program at this stage isn’t ideal unless you have a qualified coach that can guide you towards movements that are beneficial.
Some strategies at this point is to strengthen the pelvic floor and abdominals, hone in on breathing techniques and strengthening the posterior chain, while providing some small amounts of cardiovascular exercises. In order to ease pregnancy your breathing technique will help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to allow you push harder and longer, thus enabling you to have your baby much easier. Additionally, having those muscles in shape will only promote their return to normal functioning faster by means of muscle memory.
Starting off as a beginner can sensibly begin with performing some light dynamic movements with breathing exercises to slowly begin engaging the core muscles, work into some light cardio exercises for 20 to 30 minutes and then some bodyweight or light weighted resistance training exercises.
Once the basics have been covered most beginners can get stronger and fitter even during pregnancy. One of my past clients, Deanna, had been training with me for quite some time and managed to get her first pull-up while pregnant. Talk about strong Mommy, Deanna was the epitome of strong.
As a beginner certain forms of exercises are not recommended when starting out. High level aerobics and plyometrics (that’s jumping activities) are not encouraged, as would be the typical aerobic step classes, aerobic dance (sorry, Zumba), kickboxing and some CrossFit activities (like the Filthy Fifty).
Training Tips While Pregnant
To train successfully when you’re pregnant isn’t hard as long as you follow some simple rules.
#1 Have fun, stay motivated—the good times are yet to come.
#2 Lift weights focusing on your posterior chain and keep the weights moderate, especially if you’re a beginner. Remember the goal is to get and stay stronger, not kill yourself. If you’re unsure of what to do, get a coach (here’s a good resource).
#3 Perform light cardiovascular activities that have a minimal amount of impact. Walking, biking, rowing, swimming and the step mill are all great options. Just remember not to go to full exhaustion and start slowly. You may want to avoid exercising in extreme temperatures (which shouldn’t be a problem here in Canada, as it’s always cold—or at least that is how it seems at times).
#4 Be cautious of your balance later on in pregnancy, as falls can be hazardous.
#5 Eliminate exercises that force you to lie flat on your back for long periods of time during the later stages of pregnancy, which can decrease blood flow to your baby. You may also have to extend your rest periods a bit, as your body will be performing a bit harder with child.
#6 Abdominal training should be modified in order to accommodate your expanding belly as the risk of Diastasis Recti or a separation of the abdominal muscles can cause problems. Stick with non-crunching type activities and static holds to help engage and strengthen the core muscles without contracting the abdominals.
There you have it. You’re going to be a Mommy, a great, exciting part of life. And you can keep on being fit, active and awesome—after all now you’re a Mom, twice as awesome. You can keep doing all those great activities you’ve been doing to keep yourself in shape, as long as you’re going with the flow and not overly stressing your body. You can even start an exercise program to help have a safer and less stressful pregnancy. So don’t stress too much about fitting into that little black dress again and looking fabulous, because you already are headed in the right direction.
Want to get started off in the right direction with your weight training and pregnancy fitness? Check out our new class: Fit Mommy Bootcamp! Click here to check it out or forward to someone you think could utilize this Premium Class!
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