This population is very dependent on the person. There are some questions you have to ask yourself before you get started with a weight training program during pregnancy.
- Has your doctor cleared you? This is the first and most important step to deciding if exercising for the next nine months is right for you.
- Have you exercised, specifically strength training, before you were pregnant? If the answer is yes, then putting together a lifting program for you should be something that can work for you throughout your pregnancy. If the answer is no, then going back to question 1 and getting doctor’s clearance is something to consider. Most doctors will say that if you have never worked out before don’t start now.
- How do you feel? This might be the single most important question. Every day of your pregnancy is going to be a little different. You will have good days and bad days. Listening to how you feel is the key to staying healthy and moving forward in your pregnancy safely.
Now that you have asked yourself those 3 very important questions we can discuss different options for weight training assuming that you are cleared to lift weights, you have lifted before, and you are feeling good.
Level 1) Your base point. Before you move onto anything more make sure you can handle lifting very light weight with good form and not getting out of breath. Rule of thumb, you should be able to have a conversation while exercising when pregnant. If you are breathing so heavy you cannot talk normally, then you need to rest more frequently. When pregnant you will find yourself breathing heavier for things that never made you breath heavy before. This is okay, you just need to allow for a longer rest interval.
Level 2) If you successfully complete level one, then moving onto level 2 just means making weights just a little bit heavier and getting into a lifting routine. Slow and steady progressions will be important- remember the goal should be to maintain strength.
Level 3) This level is for advanced lifters that have been following a lifting program for several months or years and haven’t missed a beat even being pregnant. This level would include more advanced lifts if the mother still feels good doing them.
There is no specific routine that any woman should be doing because everyone is different. Having a healthy mother and baby is the most important part of any exercise regimen. During this time in a woman’s life, they need to find a specific program that works for them. Having an Exercise Physiologist help guide you in your journey will help keep you safe and put your mind at easy while formulating a lifting program. Having an expert to ask fitness related questions to during this special time in your life will help you and your growing family.
By Corynne Duprey, MS, CSCS