When strength training, you increase the weight as you become stronger to increase the resistance as a way to keep challenging your muscles and increase your strength. Strength training in pregnancy requires some specific modifications.
There are many strength training gym machines, pieces of fitness equipment, exercises, positions and movements that must be avoided when pregnant.
I want you to listen this podcast as we chat more on this topic.
Podcast duration: 12 minutes
That sore feeling you have after a workout is actually you slightly tearing the muscle. With proper rest, nutrition and time, it helps to rebuild the muscle.
Your body, at quite a rapid rate, is changing. It's pretty amazing how it does it, and all in nine months!
1. Increased blood volume, which means your heart has to work harder to pump it around your body.
2. Less space for your lungs to expand as baby grows bigger making it much harder to breathe.
3. The change in tension of your ligaments as the pregnancy hormone 'relaxin literally relaxes them.
4. Fatigue as your body works overtime to create a little baby!
Now, if we look at this and then PUSH HARD to increase our weights, can you see that it might just all be too much?
And the other thing I'd like to ask you, is why?
Why stay with the your same weight training regime?
Is it so that you don't put on excess weight during your pregnancy?
Because you can recover more quickly post-pregnancy?
Maybe it's because that the type of exercise brings you happiness and you love it and don't want to miss out?
So, here's the trick. You can still do weights (given you have the all clear from your health care professional).
But, my dear friend, ease off and don't go too hard.
There's a lot of changes happening and a lot of expansion.
If you are lifting heavy, there is a whole lot of weight pressing DOWN DOWN DOWN to that lovely pelvic floor of yours.
I'm going to replace the words 'weight training' with 'strength training' because there is a difference. The focus doesn't need to be on how much weight you are lifting, it's about your strength.
1. Help to avoid aches and pains as your body grows.
2. Physically prepare your body for labour.
3. Prepare your body for life as a new mother. Lifting, carrying and pram-pushing!
Do you need to lift heavy weights to reap these benefits?
Could lifting big heavy weights have a detrimental affect on your body putting more pressure on your pelvic floor and potentially increasing your risk of injury?
Am I going to talk you through when and how to incorporate some strength training into your routine so that you can get those feel good endorphins, you can be fit, healthy and strong through your pregnancy and you can aid in your recovery post-birth?
Hell yes - let's get into that now.
There's a certain skill that you need to ensure you learn in your pregnancy. It’s the most important skill you will ever need and it will help you through your pregnancy.
It's listening to your body. Every woman is different. Every pregnancy is different.
Your fitness levels before pregnancy, how you've been feeling through your first trimester, how you feel right now. It all plays a part.
There is no one rule.
At 10 weeks you can lift this much, but at 20 weeks you can only lift this much. For every woman it is different and I can't stress that enough.
I will bring you back to that thought about your pelvic floor though!
So my dear, I'm not going to tell you WHEN to start or stop exercising.
a. listen to your health care professional as they can evaluate your individual situation.
b. you need to listen to your body.
I always tend to go on the side of caution, because it's not worth the risk. But staying healthy and active is so important and strength training is an important component of that.
So Kerryn how do I safely incorporate strength training into my pregnancy I hear you say? I'm glad you asked this question.
Let's get right into it now.
If you want to optimise your health and fitness through out your pregnancy there are four components to include in your week.
1. Walk, swim.
2. Stretch, we get tight, not over stretching, but I'm going to cover that in a whole other podcast so keep an eye out for it.
3. Release, massage, myofascial release.
4. Strength body weight, light weights, resistance band.
I've designed so many fitness routines for pregnancy. We're talking hundreds. From all the classes I've taught and all the online exercise routines I've created for my PregActive for Pregnancy online program.
The reason I started PregActive was because I was tired of women getting told 'oh you can't do this.'
And basically sitting in a normal group fitness class feeling like they couldn’t do more than half the class.
The good news is there is SO much you CAN do. So let's focus on that.
The main component is to enjoy it.
You don’t need to grit your teeth and push through anything you don’t like, because chances are, it's not going to be great for you or your baby.
You can get a burn in your workouts, but you don’t want it to fatigue you for days to come.
You can work out at your own pace, but make sure you have good ventilation, you stop regularly for drink breaks, you don't over do it and you adjust week by week, and remember it's your body that is changing.
Listen to your body as well, if you have aches or pains don't push through. It’s your body communicating with you.
I could sit here for hours talking you through all the exercises you can do, but instead I'm going to give you a free workout. One you can do at home that will help your back strength, your core, your legs and, we'll give you an overall body workout.
Head over to the show notes and you'll see a link for it there. Now, I've included Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced workouts in our program.
Because there are different levels of fitness for all pregnant women and not one workout will fit all!
When focusing on your strength training, you want to really focus on your postural based muscles.
1. Back strength
2. Glute strength
3. Core strength - no planks, no sit up ladies. I have a whole podcast coming as to why so stay tuned.
4. And then leg and arm strength is of great benefit.
Be efficient with your prenatal workouts and do compound exercises where you're using more that one body part at a time.
A great example of this is a lateral raise combined with a squat.
This is where some light weights can come in handy, and if your legs fatigue take out the squats and if your arms fatigue, take out the lateral raise.
Remember, each week of your pregnancy listen to your body.
Ask yourself WHY you want to lift weights?
And if you can incorporate strength training with either lighter weights, resistance bands or no weights instead?
Listen to your body as to WHEN it feels okay for you, and always ask your health care professional if you have questions
Take my years of expertise in designing pregnancy workouts and trust me on HOW you can incorporate some safe and effective exercise into your week.
Once a week is great, but aim for 15- 20 minutes of strength 3 times a week if you can and walk somewhere most days.
We'd love to hear from you with your questions and feedback on this podcast.
We are here to deliver you with the information you need so you can be empowered, informed and confident in your pregnancy.