You can start working out even if you're a beginner and you're expecting
I am sure you are both excited and nervous about the increasing of your family, especially if you’re a fitness enthusiast. Take a deep breath and know that you can remain active throughout the pregnancy. It’s not dangerous if you know what you’re doing and if you avoid overtraining.
It’s easy and simple to keep yourself and your baby healthy and safe. In fact, it’s desirable to incorporate light activities for maintaining your overall health and fitness while pregnant (some ladies have even improved theirs!). In this article I’ll share with you some strategies and hope to get you even more enthusiastic about your upcoming life.
First, let’s make it clear from the beginning. There is a ton of research about the numerous advantages of exercising for you and your baby not only during these 9 months, but also in the long run when you’re supposed to be super energetic for all your new responsibilities.
You should only choose the right training routine and not overestimate your capabilities.
Here are some simple effective strategies you can apply to stay fit and healthy while pregnant and worry-free about your child.
The excitement of being pregnant often comes with the fear of becoming … big and round. Although the journey is one of a kind, the majority of ladies are a bit anxious about their weight and bodies and the effect of the pregnancy.
So, fit mammas, don’t worry! You can and must exercise while you’re expecting your baby.
Exercising while pregnant has the following positives:
- Preventing postpartum depressive symptoms
- Weight control and faster way for getting back in shape
- Providing better nutrition to the baby
- Lower risk of varicose veins
- Less water retention
- Better overall fitness level for natural delivery
- Better condition for managing all tasks around raising the newborn child
Studies have even shown that pregnant women should exercise on a daily basis, as not only light, but also moderate workouts are beneficial.
As far as very active women are concerned, such as athletes doing CrossFit or very intense workouts and weightlifting programs, it has been proven that they can keep the volume of their workouts, but to change intensity.
I told you that there is nothing to worry about and you can still be in good shape. Despite the good news, however, there are still some things that you must keep in mind.
Reconsider Your Goals
Apparently, training routine that builds and should reveal your six-abs neither will be the best choice, nor will it have any positive outcome.
If you haven’t trained prior to getting pregnant, you should start very, veeery slow. Find a professional personal trainer, specialized in training pregnant women. If you’re not a newbie, stick to the following main principles when training and you will maintain a healthy and beautiful body.
You should have one main goal - maintaining overall health while gaining the required weight for the whole period of pregnancy. You may increase your weight about 27,5 pounds more than you did before you were pregnant (Murray and Hassall 2014:166). This, of course, varies from woman to woman, but you should know it is not fat, but the weight of:
- Amniotic fluid
- Increased muscle layer of your womb
- Blood volume increase
- Increased breast size
- 4-8 pounds of fat, providing energy for breastfeeding.
With a view to becoming the healthiest mom, I advise you to forget about fat loss and muscle build and to control the intensity of your workouts.
The number one priority for you right now is to become the best “home” for you and your baby. Smoking and drinking are out of the question. In addition to your nutrition behavior, you have to be careful with the intensity of your trainings.
Monitor Your Heart Rate
Because it’s easier to explain this with concrete numbers, this means that you shouldn’t exceed more than 70 – 75 % of your maximum heart rate.
You can find your maximum heart rate using the following formula:
HR maximum = 220 - age
Track Your Body Temperature
This is another indicator for your health and exercise intensity. Try to keep it under 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius), especially during the last three months of the pregnancy.
Drink more water during the day and at least 500 ml during your workouts. Just for your own safety, don’t choose very hot or humid conditions for training and avoid saunas.
Be Active Every Day
Strive for some kind of activity on a daily basis. Needless to say, you don’t have to perform weightlifting or HIIT sessions every day. Incorporate at least 30 minutes exercises daily and don’t worry about the training volume. Make sure that your workout routine consists of a variety of exercises and their modifications.
Exercises You Can Do
Apparently, you will not train like an Olympian athlete during your pregnancy, but there are plenty of options you can perform. You are allowed to do everything you want if you take into consideration your current health condition, your sleep levels and your recovery.
For example, I won’t advise you to take part in contact sports or plyometrics. Furthermore, you better swap jumping movements with less intensive ones. This is necessary not only because of your baby, but because of the changes in your pelvis. As the body prepares for the delivery, the pelvic joints are becoming more relaxed.
Minimize any risk by adding swimming, sport classes for pregnant women, walking and stair climbing to your training schedule.
Here comes the best part!
Despite what you might have heard you can do weight trainings and it could even help you improve the environment for your baby!
Engage Your Muscles
Always remember to keep your core tight and choose free weights and bodyweight movements to machines. Incorporate neutral spine exercises. Feel the muscles during the complete range of motion of each exercise. Lift with muscles, not with joints.
Use higher repetition sets (10-15, even 15-20 and 20-25 reps) performed with lighter weights or resistance bands.
Strengthen Your Core
There are a few things you should remember regarding your belly and core in general.
Be careful with exercises that push against your stomach or even avoid them. While in the first trimester of your pregnancy it’s safe to perform exercises while lying flat on your back, avoid this in the second and in the third trimester. The weight of your belly presses the vena cava which can result in a reduced blood flow to the heart and thus less blood will reach the brain and the uterus.
As I mentioned above, your pelvis, low back and hips are about to change a lot and will be more prone to pain and discomfort. Therefore, core strength plays a vital role in supporting your body. Work towards strengthening your musculature and increasing the mobility of your hips.
Exercises Not To Do
Remember to avoid all kind of exercises that cause any pain or discomfort! This is a sign that something isn’t good for your body at this moment. While pregnant you might experience discomfort in the following areas:
- Front of the pelvis
- Back of the pelvis
- Low back
If you experience any pain or discomfort, this probably means that you should deload the intensity or the weight or that need some additional support. Paying your attention to improved breathing technique could also benefit your workouts and prevent undesirable feelings in your body.
Carefully perform exercises such as squats, deadlifts and swings and never ignore symptoms of stiffness or discomfort. You might find it more difficult to do workouts you have done prior to pregnancy, however, as your body changes, reduce the intensity or distance and don’t worry about not being fit enough.
By all means avoid exercises that cause:
- Discomfort, pain or bulging in the pelvis and hips
- Feeling of convex belly
Last but not least, please, leave your ego outside the gym and don’t let the Instagram pregnant-lifters mania to take over smart training. If you get any signs of your body that you should change your workout routine, do it. Don’t think about what other women are showing online.
Change the tempo, go a bit slower, leave the bar if necessary. You can still be in amazing shape doing more resistance band and body weight trainings. (I can tell this from personal experience. My six pack abs are a living proof!)
Live And Smile More
Maybe you’re a bit confused, but our bodies are complicated machines. It’s not getting any easier when you’re expecting, but stick to the main guidelines I mentioned above.
Exercising during pregnancy should lift your spirits and prepare your body for childbirth, but it's important to do it smart and safely. Working out will help you feel your best and stay healthy, just don’t overdo anything.
Remember to smile more, stay positive, rest enough and enjoy every minute of this beautiful period. Welcome the new baby into your family in the best possible way!
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