Training Whilst Pregnant
It can be quite daunting when you become pregnant especially when you are not sure what to do with your training. Can I still train? Are there exercises I should avoid? Some sources say you can do certain exercises while another sources say's you can't. There is a lot of conflicting information. Having helped many clients safely through a pregnancy I have put together some of the general advice we give to our clients. Please always check with your GP or Midwife that a training plan is ok for you and do your own research when it comes to training whilst pregnant.
Firstly when you are pregnant you’re no longer training for improvements in body shape, instead you are training to maintain your current levels of fitness as best as possible and look after your health in preparation for your baby. Safety is of paramount importance. Here are 20 general tips to follow.
- Always warm up thoroughly before any routines – Structure the warm up’s as follows – Joint Mobility, Pulse Raiser, Dynamic flexibility.
- Do not take up any new forms of exercise – we are happy to train current clients who become pregnant however we will not train anyone who is pregnant that we do not know. We need to already know your capabilities.
- Do not over-train – keep at least 3 days recovery each week. This is general advice. If you train 2 days per week there is no sense in upping it to 3 or 4. On the flip side if you train 5 days a week and are very fit and healthy there is argument to suggest that you can maintain this level of frequency for some time, however as a rule with our own clients we recommend a maximum of 4 days a week training whilst pregnant and ideally not training more than 2 days in a row.
- Do not push yourself to your limits – train optimally. You are training for maintenance; there is no need to push for those extra reps or extra seconds. An ideal scenario is to perform 8-10 reps with a weight that you could really do for 12-15 reps.
- Stay hydrated at all times.
- Reduce the time you spend training as your pregnancy progresses. For example your workouts may last an hour in the beginning but by the last few weeks you may only train optimally for about 15-20 minutes.
- Cool down properly and gradually. Do not just hit the showers as soon as you have completed your last set.
- Work with weights that are within your capabilities – avoid heavy weights during this period.
- As a common rule we recommend not to do exercises whilst lying on your back.
- Try not to overheat (sip water, wear baggier clothes and try to exercise in an air conditioned environment)
- Avoid explosive and/or ballistic movements
- Listen to your body, if it doesn’t feel right don’t do it.
- Stick to an organised training plan, try to get a trainer to periodise a plan for you for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Don’t be scared to adjust your training plan to suit your current well being if you feel it is too demanding.
- Avoid contact sports and exercises that put you at risk of falling.
- Always risk assess your training area.
- When using free wights, avoid exercises that have you lying on your back. As your pregnancy progresses you may want to use less free weights and more fixed machines.
- To Squat or not to Squat? If you can keep a neutral spine during a squat and have a strong pelvic floor and are used to squatting continue to squat but at low weight and intensity. If you cannot maintain a neutral spine and or have a weak pelvic floor or general poor squatting technique try Stability Ball Wall Squats or find an alternative exercise. During the final 3 months of your pregnancy eliminate all squatting movement patterns and focus on more isolated machine based leg exercises instead.
- Consume an adequate amount of Carbohydrate, Protein and Fats with each meal. Do not try to restrict your carbohydrate or calories during this period. Work out your maintenance level for daily calorie intake and adjust on a day to day basis depending on how you feel. As your pregnancy progresses you may want to consider increasing your calories but speak to your midwife to get an idea on the amount to aim for.
- Supplement with folic acid (particular in the first 3 months), and a multivitamin. Possibly consider supplementing with Iron and you could purchase a prenatal multivitamin. These are general recommendations, always consult your doctor or midwife before taking any supplements.
Types of Training we Recommend
Weight Training – slow and controlled, medium rep ranges of around 8 to 10 reps Yoga/General Flexibility
Pilates/Core Conditioning – avoid exercises where you are lying on your back, focus on pelvic floor activation and core stabilization exercises
Aerobics – Low impact Walking
Main Benefits to Training Whilst Pregnant
Help strengthen pelvic floor
Helps deal with demands of Labour
Helps maintain a healthy body weight/fat
Makes it easier to lose baby weight and regain fitness after birth
Helps to keep a positive attitude during pregnancy
Helps maintain current levels of strength/flexibility and all round fitness Reduces discomfort such as cramps, constipation and back ache
Helps you sleep better
Helps to reduce stress of pregnancy
Helps prepare your body for carrying extra weight
Training the Core
Avoid lying on your back (no crunches) instead stick to planks, prone positions and cable exercises to strengthen your core muscles.
All the above information is general advice. Please always consult your GP and Midwife before attempting to follow any of our advice with regards to training, diet, supplementation or any other topic covered. If you find it helpful let us know.