STRENGTH TRAINING FOR A HEALTHY PREGNANCY

 
 

So you’ve been making great progress in your fitness program, but you find out that you’re going to be a mom. Does this mean you have to stop working out? Are all your hard-earned gains going to disappear?

While pregnancy consists of a wide array of physiological changes, it is far from a physical handicap. Most women are unsure about what type of exercises they should be doing, and whether or not certain movements will negatively affect the baby’s development. Exercise and physical activity are highly encouraged for a healthy pregnancy. Before I get into the sample workout I’ve put together, it is important to mention that every pregnancy is unique and you should consult with a physician to get medical clearance before engaging in any form of exercise.

If you are pregnant and want to continue (or begin) exercising, I highly encourage you to review the contraindications and specific exercise recommendations for pregnant women. Read this and this.

The following is a sample resistance training program that is safe for those who are familiar with weight training and experience no pain with functional movements. An example of the perfect candidate for continuing her strength training protocol is Local 10 meteorologist Julie Durda, who has been weight training for years prior to getting pregnant. The goals of her program during her term were the following:

  • Focus on foundational movements like squats, lunges, pulls, and sling system work
  • Include balance and stability exercises
  • Train the core to account for change in center of gravity (balance between anterior core and low back is essential)
  • Focus on total-body movements, implemented in a manner that doesn’t drastically raise heart rate
  • Never train muscle groups till failure
  • Maintain as much lean mass as possible, because those arms still have to look good on television!

Since Julie was in her 3rd trimester during the filming of this video, she’s only lifting about 50% or less of the weight she normally lifts. The overall workout intensity was drastically lowered during her entire term. Remember, the goal is maintaining some level of fitness without pushing yourself anywhere near maximal or submaximal level of effort. Just as being sedentary is not ideal, the other extreme of trying to set PRs and lift heavy is also not favorable. My professional advice would be to engage in some form of resistance training (light/moderate intensity) program 3 times per week, while supplementing with light aerobic activity another 2-4x per week.

Sample workout

 

There are many correct ways to accomplish the same purpose when it comes to programming. The approach I take with our pregnant clients involves resting in between each exercise so that the heart rate doesn’t increase too much. Here’s an example of how I would put together the specific exercises shown in the video:

Being pregnant is not an excuse to be sedentary and binge eat Haagen-Dazs. If strength training was part of your routine prior to getting pregnant, you may continue with several modifications and a lower intensity. If strength training is new to you, you may want to consult with a professional to make sure your exercise form is correct and the workouts are appropriate for you. Regardless of your fitness level, anyone can benefit from moving often and making exercise a daily habit. Performing an exercise routine such as the one showcased in this video several times a week can have a huge impact on keeping your body healthy and strong!

 

Julian Arana