Strength Training in Pregnancy - When and Why!
Lifting weights in pregnancy...
As women, we often shy away from weights as we don't want to get bulky like Arnie - but let me tell you this is not physically possible! Also, muscular is just another type of beauty.
There is no better time to pick up the weights or bands and do some strength training than in pregnancy.
What is strength or resistance training?
The two are similar in that you use resistance, such as weights, barbells, bands, to generate force to move. The results may be to gain strength, fat loss, improve athletic performance or for injury rehab. In this sense for the article, let’s just call it strength training.
Is strength training safe in pregnancy?
Yes - but it depends. If you don't have contraindications to exercise and have clearance to do so, it's ok. It is recommended women do 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which can include aerobic and strength training based exercise. Even those who have not done it prior to pregnancy can do so, perhaps starting on lighter weights, doing less reps or sets, and taking greater rest periods.
What are the benefits of strength training in pregnancy?
You know how much baby paraphernalia you lugg around, right? We are training to do exactly this; not just survive but thrive in parenthood with a new baby and all the stuff! We bend, twist, squat, lift, hold ALL darn day. This can take its toll on our post birth bodies, so by maintaining strength in our muscles, we set ourselves up for a more pleasant postpartum experience (albeit with less sleep).
As well as being strong, other benefits include:
- Decreased severity of lower back pain and bodily aches
- Decreased risk of urinary incontinence
- Maintenance of physical strength and fitness
- Reduced risk of gestational diabetes
- Decreased risk of preeclampsia
- Improvement of depressive symptoms
So what is a go and what is a no?
If you have been strength training 4+ times a week prior to pregnancy, you can continue (as long as no contraindications to exercise) with what you were doing, however scaling back prone, supine and intensity levels as progress in pregnancy. And of course, going with what your body is saying! It is not so much the exercise but how it is performed.
- Olympic lifting - Something to not start in pregnancy if you have never done it! And even then, as the belly grows into the second trimester, it is advised to stop unless under the guidance of a coach.
- Valsava breathing - This breath holding move not only can bring on light headedness but place undue pressure on the pelvic floor muscle. This is why I encourage exhaling through the effort of the exercise.
- Lying flat on your back (supine) - Is not advised in later stages of pregnancy for long periods of time.
- Planking positions (prone) - Aren't ideal as it places pressure on the midline, exacerbating the natural occurrence of diastasis recti. Make sure your Core Connect is on point and move to an incline.
- Excessive twisting (think Wood Chops) - May be done with smaller range of motions
- Excessive double arm overhead movements (Overhead Shoulder Press) - Can lower blood pressure, causing dizziness. Opt for 1 arm at a time and check your ABC’s.
Other strength exercises are generally ok, if following the ABC principles. It is advised to be familiar with those signs that something isn't ok whilst exercising. You can find these in the DediKate App.
As far as training programmes go, in Pregnancy Sculpt, there is a range of exercises to target the major muscle groups; Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Antirotation, Lunge. Then there are added exercises in there such as lift, gentle twist and core stabilization. The exercises try to mimic everyday life patterns, so that when it comes to living with all the baby stuff, the tasks we have as humans just seem a bit easier!
The benefits are immense for strength training in pregnancy - and beyond!
There is no need to fear it, rather enjoy the empowering feeling strength training can bring! Be guided by Jess, pick up those weights and let's get strong together!
Starting your Pregnancy Exercise Journey?
If you are starting out on your pregnancy exercise journey and would like the support from DediKate's wonderful expert Jess Baker, then you can sign up for a two week FREE trial to DediKate and join DediKate Baby.