Weight Training Routine During Pregnancy
There is no one-size-fits-all routine for lifting weights during pregnancy. Your weight training routine and the amount of weight you can lift depends on your previous fitness level, your weight training experience, how far along you are in your pregnancy, and your current health condition.
If you are already using a strength training program, consider lifting to maintain rather than build more strength. You can do this by using lighter weights with higher reps.
Kirsch recommends weight training two or three times a week for a full-body workout rather than focusing on one or two specific body parts. Focus on exercises that help with postural alignment and maintaining a strong back and proper breathing during exercise is very important, he says.
Those new to weight lifting should take it particularly easy. “If you are a novice to strength training, perhaps sticking with light resistance training is your best bet,” says Dr. Chisholm. Kirsch recommends doing this with resistance bands instead of weights.
Try Pregnancy Safe Exercises
You have a lot of options when it comes to staying active during pregnancy. If theres a specific activity you have in mind, ask your doctor about it.
Safe exercises during pregnancy
With a few small exceptions, the following are some of the activities you can do all the way through pregnancy:
How much can you lift while pregnant?
How much you can safely lift while pregnant will depend on several different factors, including your pre-pregnancy fitness level, whether lifting is part of your job, how far along you are and more. Talk with your doctor to determine what will be best for you.
What Are The Best Exercises To Do While Pregnant
Its particularly important to keep up your cardio routine during exercise. Swimming and walking are great low-impact options. If youre a runner or fan of Spin classes, these should be okay to keep up as well with doctor approval. Focusing on your muscles is also importantPilates, barre, and yoga are all great options. If youre a weight lifter, most guidelines recommend upping your reps but reducing your weight consult your doctor.
Its especially important to focus on those muscles that will be most directly involved in giving birth. Maintaining core strength throughout your pregnancy can prevent back pain and boost recovery postpartum, says Sarah Duvall, DPT, a core and pelvic-floor physical therapist. Your pelvic floor is part of your core too and may need some extra attention while youre pregnant. Handling the increasing ligament laxity that comes with the hormonal changes that spread the pelvis and prepare for delivery can be hard on the pelvic-floor muscles, she says.
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Heres a simple exercise Duvall suggests for working your core and pelvic floor together:
Lie back on the couch in a comfortable position. Wrap your hands around the bottom of your belly. Inhale, fully relaxing your abdominal muscles. Then, on the exhale, contract them by thinking of drawing inward and lifting your belly up and away from your pubic bone.
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Listen To Your Body When Exercising While Pregnant
You know your body is going to change a lot during pregnancy. So, its probably no surprise that youll be slowing down a bit. Fortunately, your body will tell you what works and what doesnt.
For example, if youre feeling tired, stick to leisurely walks until you get some of your energy back. And as we mentioned before, once your sense of balance starts to change, thats a signal to avoid or modify certain activities.
Because your body is already working so hard, pregnancy also isnt the time to push yourself. Dont exercise to the point of tiredness. Again, most women can exercise safely while pregnant, but stop and call your doctor if you notice any sudden or unusual symptoms during exercise like:
- Excessive fatigue, breathlessness or dizziness
- A pounding heartbeat or unusual sensations in your chest
- Pain or cramping, especially around your back or pelvis
- Vaginal bleeding
- Persistent contractions
What Exercises Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy
There are certain exercises and activities that can be harmful if performed during pregnancy. They include:
- Holding your breath during any activity.
- Activities where falling is likely .
- Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball, and volleyball.
- Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma such as activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction.
- Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, or running.
- Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches.
- Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity.
- Exercise in hot, humid weather.
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Benefits Of Exercising While Pregnant
If you think of exercise solely as a way to fit into a smaller pair of pants, you may need to shift your perspective now that youre pregnant.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists , exercising during pregnancy can lead to a lower incidence of:
- preterm birth
Brooke Cates, prenatal and postpartum fitness expert and owner of Studio Bloom, says some exercises can be implemented in each trimester to support the body through its physical changes while preparing for an easier return to exercise postpartum.
She emphasizes a shift of focus on core and pelvic floor awareness, which can help you build a deeper core-based connection before the real changes begin to take place.
Safety Measures While Performing Abdominal Exercises When Pregnant
You may remember these points while doing the abdominal exercises:
- During the first trimester, you can exercise for a longer time by increasing the number of repetitions, as long as you are comfortable. You can also workout by adding a little weight to your ab exercises.
- In the second and third trimesters, reduce the intensity of your workout or stop doing a few exercises completely as they might hurt you.
- Do not do exercises in a supine position after the first trimester .
- Drink water and fresh juices and stay hydrated. Take sips in between the repetitions.
- Avoid exercising in hot and humid conditions as it could increase your body temperature, and also dehydrate you.
- Do not overdo the abdominal exercises . Stop doing the exercises if you feel an increase in your heartbeat or exhausted.
- Avoid doing any exercises that involve abrupt movements.
- If you havent exercised earlier, and beginning it during pregnancy, then start with just five minutes of exercise a day. Extend it by five minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes a day and under the supervision of a trainer .
Also, before you begin working out, you need to check if you have diastasis recti the separation of the two muscle bellies of rectus abdominis.
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Exercises During Pregnancy: 8 Exercises And Stretches You Can Do At Home
Copyright 2022 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. Read copyright and permissions information.This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to women’s health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read ACOGs complete disclaimer.
Tips To Lift Weights Safely During Pregnancy
- Lift light to moderate weights three to four times a week. This is considered a safe range for most healthy pregnant women.
- Practice movements that can be done safely.
- Work out your complete body versus targeting specific muscle groups. This helps reduce pain in one area after a workout.
- Focus on higher repetitions with lighter weights than you are used to.
- Maintain a strong upper back and proper breathing during the exercise.
- Focus on exercises that help with postural alignment.
Be Careful Of The Abdominals
During pregnancy, the muscles that meet in the middle of your stomach stretch to create space for a growing uterus. It is common for the rectus abdominis to separate this is called diastasis recti .
DR can also be caused by incorrectly lifting heavy weights or performing unsafe or excessive abdominal exercises. This includes moves that require you to lie on your belly after the first trimester.
Many trainers recommend focusing on strengthening the pelvic floor and core muscles, rather than traditional ab exercises.
What Pregnancy Changes May Affect Exercise
Physical changes during pregnancy create extra demands on your body. Keeping in mind the changes listed below, remember that you need to listen to your body and adjust your activities or exercise routine as necessary.
- Your developing baby and other internal changes require more oxygen and energy.
- Hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch, increasing the risk of injury.
- The extra weight and the uneven distribution of your weight shift your center of gravity. The extra weight also puts stress on joints and muscles in the lower back and pelvic area and makes it easier for you to lose your balance.
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Exercises To Avoid While Pregnant
During pregnancy, avoid sports and activities with increased risk of, or characterised by:
- abdominal trauma or pressure such as weightlifting
- contact or collision such as martial arts, soccer, basketball and other competition sports
- hard projectile objects or striking implements such as hockey, cricket or softball
- falling such as downhill skiing, horse riding and skating
- extreme balance, co-ordination and agility such as gymnastics
- significant changes in pressure such as SCUBA diving
- heavy lifting
- high-altitude training at over 2000 m
- supine exercise position the weight of the baby can slow the return of blood to the heart some of these exercises can be modified by lying on your side
- wide squats or lunges.
If you’re not sure whether a particular activity is safe during pregnancy, check with your healthcare professional.
Ellipticals Stair Climbers Treadmills And Rowing Machines
Ellipticals, stair climbers, treadmills and rowing machines are all good bets during pregnancy. Adjust speed, incline and tension to a level thats comfortable for you. Keep in mind that as your pregnancy progresses, you may have a harder time with resistance . With stair climbers and treadmills, you’ll need to pay closer attention to where you step to avoid stumbles.
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Stay Hydrated And Avoid Overheating
Pregnant women should generally be drinking around eight to 10 glasses of water per day. And if youre exercising, youre going to need more.
This means drinking fluids not just during exercise, but before and after, too. And if you start to feel too hot or dehydrated during a workout, take a break.
Myth #: If You Dont Usually Exercise You Shouldnt Start During Pregnancy
This myth has proliferated for many years, but pregnancy is actually an ideal time to start an exercise program even if youve never really exercised before. Public health guidelines for pregnant women recommend moderate exercise or activity for approximately 150 minutes per week . The following are ideal exercises during pregnancy:
- Walking: Walking at a moderate pace can be a great, easy way to fulfill the recommended guidelines. If youre walking, you should be able to walk and talk at the same time. If you cant, you should slow down.
- Gym activities: Working out on the elliptical or doing water exercises in the pool are healthy and safe ways to stay active.
- Pilates or yoga: Pilates and yoga can be mentally and physically beneficial. However, hot yoga is not recommended because you should always stay cool and hydrated while pregnant.
The most important thing while performing these exercises is to keep it at a moderate level. Dont push yourself to the point of exhaustion.
You should be especially careful with exercises that could cause you to lose your balance, since having a fall during pregnancy can be very serious. Riding a bicycle, for example, might not be the safest form of exercise during pregnancy due to the increased fall risk. Whats most important is to find something you enjoy while staying safe. Talk to your doctor to see what works with your personal history.
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Determining What And How Much Exercise You Can Do
We want you to continue being active throughout your entire pregnancy. Listen to your body for what and how much you can do. You may have to vary your routine from trimester to trimester or even day to day depending on what your body tells you. If you find a certain activity triggers contractions, or you feel like youre not staying hydrated, back away from that activity. Above all, you want to keep yourself and your baby safe.
During the first trimester, you may feel nauseous. At this point, your body may be telling you that you can still run 10 miles, just like you did before you were pregnant. But if you cant keep down liquids, you run the risk of becoming dehydrated. You physically may be able to run the distance, but if you cant do it safely, back off.
As you enter your third trimester, youll start to notice your center of gravity shifting. This may cause you to rethink or modify some of your activities to adjust for your expanding belly. You also may have to avoid some positions including certain yoga positions or lying on your back that can lead to hypotension or compress a major blood vessel, disrupting blood flow to your baby.
Don’t Do Hot Yoga While Pregnant
While simple yoga movements and stretches can be beneficial for expecting moms, practicing them in extreme temperatures is certainly not. That is why doctors and experts advise against doing Bikram yoga, or hot yoga, a practice that jacks up the studio heat to a whopping 105 degrees, according to Shape.
A study published in Canadian Family Physician in 2014 noted that, while there are no existing studies that center around the practice of hot yoga during pregnancy, high heat levels could lead to hyperthermia, which is associated with an “increased risk of neural tube defects and possibly of other malformations among fetuses.”
Livestrong also argues that excessive sweating could be dangerous to pregnant women as “fluid losses increase your heart rate and decrease blood volume, potentially causing fetal stress.” Furthermore, as women experience “joint laxity caused by the hormones” during pregnancy, the intense heat might enable her to stretch too far or push her physical boundaries, potentially causing injury. In short, consider hot yoga one of the exercises to avoid while pregnant.
When And What To Exercise To Avoid In Pregnancy
You should avoid exercise in pregnancy if you have the following medical condtions:
- your waters have broken
- uncontrolled high blood pressure
- low lying placenta in late pregnancy
- intra-uterine growth retardation
Sport and activity to avoid in pregnancy
Some sports and activities need to be avoided in pregnancy. These include:
- sports or activities where there is a risk of collision, tripping or falling, or heavy body contact
- competitive sports where you have to reach, stretch or leap beyond safe limits
- activities an unsafe environment, such as high temperatures or involve heavy equipment
- repetitive high impact exercise, or with lots of twists and turns, high stepping or sudden stops that cause joint discomfort.
If you are new to exercise, start slowly and progress at your own pace, and at an intensity that makes you feel good.
Be alert to any signs that you may need to stop exercising such as:
- vaginal bleeding
Avoid Lying Flat On Your Back
After your first trimester, you’ll want to avoid lying on your back, the American Pregnancy Association advises. Lying in this position puts pressure on a major vein called the inferior vena cava. Too much pressure on the vena cava can reduce blood flow to your heart and uterus, causing you to feel dizzy or nauseated. This warning usually applies to people who have “popped,” as it’s the weight of the belly that puts strain on the other body parts. But to play it safe, avoid it altogether, especially if you weren’t very active before pregnancy.
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Swimming And Water Aerobics
The pool is your friend during pregnancy. The water is soothing, the exercise is low-impact, and you wont fall over. Water exercise expert Sara Haley has a helpful series of prenatal exercises that focus on building core strength.
If youre already doing water exercise, theres no need to change your routine. As in all exercise, avoid twisting your middle too much, and pay attention to your energy limits. If you get tired, its not time to push yourself its time to get out of the pool. If youre starting water exercise during pregnancy, ask a swim coach or trainer at your pool about safe routines.
How Much Exercise Do You Need When Youre Pregnant
For healthy pregnant women, aiming for at least 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise per week is generally a good target. You can break your 2 ½ hours up any way thats comfortable for you. You may find that 30 minutes, five days a week works well, or that shorter or longer blocks are more your style.
Moderate exercise gets your heart rate up, and it may cause you to sweat a little. But remember that you dont want to tire yourself out. Youre only aiming to maintain your fitness, not increase it.
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