If you usually love going to the gym and lifting, working up a sweat, and getting your muscles working hard, then you are probably wondering if you will still be able to do those things you love when you are pregnant.
During your first pregnancy, it is not uncommon to be totally confused about what you can actually do during this time.
You might be scared of doing any more than the bare minimum in fear of risk to your baby bump, but you shouldn’t worry as your body will let you know how much is too much and there is still plenty you can do to stay in the best shape.
We have collected some information on what you can do, what the benefits will be for you later in your pregnancy, whether weight-lifting is still an option, and more facts that will help you how much you can do.
Lifting and strength exercise when pregnant
There are plenty of options for you to continue to gain strength and stay in shape during your pregnancy, over the course of your pregnancy, some may get harder and so you should listen to your body and what it is telling you.
Regardless of what exercises you do, you should ensure to stay hydrated and stop at any point if it feels like too much.
Consider using weights, swimming, walking uphill, yoga, and even gardening as keep-fit exercises. These options will all help you improve your muscle tone and stamina which will assist you during the strenuous moments of labor and birth.
You can also consider resistance bands and walking up and downstairs, as well as all types of free weights and weight equipment at the gym but be sure to remain cautious and perhaps invest in a PT during your time working out while pregnant to ensure that you are doing things correctly, especially during the latter parts of your second trimester and into your third, it is good to have supervision, especially if you are used to gym gear.
Benefits of strength exercise during pregnancy
- Helps to ease and rid of the traditional aches and pain you will get as your bump grows.
- Strengthens your body to labor and helps build your relevant muscles for when the time comes.
- It will help you to be physically prepared for all the strenuous lifting, carrying, and pram -pushing that comes with being a new mum.
- Certain exercises will help you to build your core and pelvic floor muscles that will reduce labor time and help to push the baby down the birth canal.
No real limit exists that says what is best, as all women are different and where a pro weight lifter would be able to lift heavier weights outside of pregnancy this would continue during pregnancy, you should only lift what you are capable of lifting both during pregnancy and not. It all rests in personal capabilities.
Women with existing conditions that may affect their weight lifting ability should follow their regular restrictions, and if lifting is not relevant for you, there are plenty of other exercises that you can do, including yoga, walking, and swimming.
A dead-lift of any object under 25-30lbs is not harmful and as pregnancy goes on you should be aware that your body will release hormones that may make lifting more difficult and uncomfortable but not dangerous, if you are an avid lifter you may want to plan a back-up for your third trimester incase you find lifting more difficult.
Activity that you are used to can continue through your pregnancy until your mid 2nd to 3rd trimester, so don’t worry about having to change your routine that much.
There are a few exceptions, it is advised that you stay away from activities that may include jeering movements or any risk of falling or tripping. Listen to your body and it will tell you how much you can take.
Tips for safety
- Don’t overexert yourself or strain your body, and stay hydrated!
- Do not lift while on your back after the first trimester. Try doing lifts for your arms and chest such as a chest press that can be done on an incline bench from 12 weeks, use a further incline from 20 weeks.
- Be cautious when lifting weights over your head in your last trimester, do not use heavy weights, and DO NOT hold your breath. It could be wise to consult a gym or PT about your technique, especially in your final trimester. Possible exercises you can do include shoulder and lateral raises that extend to a shoulder height.
- Be cautious of free-weight use. You don’t want to risk them hitting your baby bump by accident. Supervision is good in this case if you are desperate to use free-weights but be cautious and use other techniques if possible.
What to avoid
You want to be cautious of a few things and stay away from certain exercises as you progress through your pregnancy.
We recommend staying away from cross-fit styled training with the involvement of heavy weights, as well as circuit classes that use barbells and/or fast movements.
From the start of your second trimester, we also recommend avoiding any exercises that involve the use of heavy barbells behind your neck.
Due to the risk of equipment touching your bump we advise caution towards deadlifts, clean and press, and upright rows, all of these also require correct bodily alignment which is a very difficult thing to have during your pregnancy, especially later on, so you could easily strain yourself attempting these. It may be best to put these on hold.
We advise against weighted sit-ups after your first trimester and training with any abdominal rotation equipment at the gym, it’s rather difficult to rotate your abdomen when a baby is in there, so give that a miss for now.
What to focus on
There are plenty of areas of your body to focus on that will assist you in your pregnancy, labor, and birth.
- Pelvic Floor muscles
- Deep Abdominals
- Back muscles, to of back and lower back- (Yoga and Squats are good for this.)
- Glutes (Buttocks.)
If weights seem a bit too much you can always consider resistance bands, but ensure that you use these properly to avoid hurting yourself or your bump with the bands.