ASK A TRAINER: How Hard Should I Work Out While Pregnant?

zzzzzzzz lift and bitch 033Dear Fitbabe,
I have a question about working out while pregnant which might be of interest to some other readers as well. Early in my pregnancy, I visited my general practitioner, an older lady, who warned me to cut back on my daily workouts. “Just jog slowly or walk!” she advised, wagging her wizened finger at me. I nodded in agreement but did not comply. Later, my obstetrician gave completely different advice. The youngish, hip, sandal-wearing man said: “If you feel good, then you should continue doing whatever you have been doing.” I was elated, despite realizing that he had no idea what I was actually doing at the gym: heavy split training with weights and stair running. Should I really be bench pressing 100 pounds and deadlifting even more while knocked up?
There is much information about exercising while pregnant online, but none of it is exactly clear, and much of it sounds like uninformed personal opinion. Exactly what can a fit and healthy pregnant woman do and not do at different stages of her pregnancy? I’m sure that you have worked with many pregnant clients and have done your research.
Fit Preggo  

Hello my pregnant beauty! This is such a controversial topic as many health professionals have different opinions based on personal experience and the latest research. Honestly, each pregnancy is so different, there is no one size fits all prescription for exercise during pregnancy. Here is my opinion based on training many pregnant women who were ALL different; please keep in mind I am NOT a physician and my certification with the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology always requires me to get a PAR-MED-EX for Pregnancy signed by a doctor before I can continue with a client whom I have been training, or starting with a new client who is pregnant.
There is no doubt that there will be some days during your pregnancy when getting out of bed can be a challenge. But I can assure you that staying fit and active can have lots of benefits during pregnancy and at the time of giving birth. Just listen to your body and don’t over do it. “Pregnancy is not a time to get fit but rather to maintain your fitness.”
Exercise has so many benefits including increasing muscle mass, tone, bone density, and cardiovascular endurance. This can help you carry your extra weight during pregnancy,  as well as prepare you for the physical stress during labour and birth. Also, exercising during pregnancy will help you get your body shape back post delivery, which is what all women want! 
Your body releases a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy which loosens your joints in preparation for delivery, so both you and your personal trainer must be careful in choosing exercises, paying extra attention to technique. It’s important to find exercises that won’t injure you or harm the baby.
If you were already very active and consistently lifting heavy, I would recommend that you lower the intensity of your routine, as your body will now be using up more oxygen. Although you’ll breathe more deeply, there will be less oxygen available to your body for aerobic exercise. The best rule to follow is the talk test: as long as you can talk during your workout it’s probably about right for you! Weight training is thought to be safe during pregnancy as long as you are not lifting too heavy. Aim to maintain muscle tone rather than build muscle bulk. As a rule, go for lighter weights and more repetitions rather than a few repetitions of heavy weights.
No matter how fit or active you were before becoming pregnant, I believe it’s best to choose low-impact aerobics during the later months of pregnancy. High-impact exercise, which involves a lot of jumping, hopping, and running, may put too much strain on your body. There are always women out there who say they ran marathons up until the minute they gave birth; again, everyone is different! If you are a runner, and it is not uncomfortable to run, then go ahead. I just think that you have your whole life to run and do extreme fitness programs, so why don’t you take a few months to modify your routine while you make a baby?

 Here are some of the danger signs that one must consider with exercising during pregnancy! You must cease exercise if you experience any of the following symptoms: dizziness, heart palpitations, leaking from your vagina, nausea, or vomiting, sudden change in body temperature, or swelling. If you experience any of the following more serious symptoms then STOP immediately and seek medical advice urgently. These include: calf pain, fainting, blurred vision, sharp pains in the belly, vaginal bleeding, or if baby movement slows down or stops. Make sure that you don’t lie flat on your back for a long time when exercising, particularly after the first trimester. Lying on your back may reduce the supply of blood to your uterus (womb) and make you feel dizzy or faint. This is something I have paid great attention to as I myself have low blood pressure. In addition, try to stay cool when exercising, drink enough water, wear light exercise clothes, and avoid working out in hot, humid conditions.

I hope this answers your question. Again, if you would like a personalized program design, you can contact me for personal training sessions, and I can guide you right up until you give birth! My last pregnant client worked out with me until the Monday before she went into labour that Thursday night. We even did walking lunges during that workout!
Please consult your Dr before commencing any Training Program during pregnancy. The information above is my own personal information and does not override that of any medical practitioner.


Deanna Harder: Fitness Leadership Diploma, CSEP-CPT (Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology-Certified Personal Trainer), and Figure Competitor

This entry was posted in Ask a Trainer, pregnancy and tagged , by fitbabe. Bookmark the permalink.

About fitbabe

Deanna Harder is a college-certified, highly knowledgeable personal trainer, with over 20 years of experience. In addition to running her own business in Edmonton, she has competed in 6 figure competitions, and is always ready for a new challenge. Fitness Leadership Diploma, CSEP-CPT (Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology-Certified Personal Trainer)

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