I get SO MANY emails and messages regarding pregnancy strength training advice. There are so many strength training during pregnancy myths floating around the internet it’s no wonder women everywhere are so confused.
Let’s get to the myth-busting shall we?
Strength Training During Pregnancy Myth #1 :
Don’t ever let your heart rate get over 140 beats a minute.
This is antiquated advice. While pregnant your heart rate can easily make its way over 140 in your warm up alone. I go by the RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion.
Can my clients talk through their sets? Yes.
Do they rest between exercises? Yes.
This is totally safe and one of the reasons I LOVE STRENGTH TRAINING FOR PREGNANCY. Labor comes on in contractions, contractions are much like intervals. There is the working portion and the rest portion. So Strength Training during Pregnancy is actually preparing you for labor!
Strength Training during Pregnancy Myth #2:
Strength training while pregnant will injure you due to the joint laxity you are experiencing.
When your joints get lax you need stability. Smart Strength training is all about stability. Walking and yoga don’t focus on stability and these are still the exercise modalities that come to mind when it comes to exercising during pregnancy. Strength training can actually help keep many aches and pains away because it works so much on stability. You need be strong for labor, strong throughout the postpartum recovery period and strong in motherhood! I have found that the more muscle, strength and general body awareness you have, the easier and speedier the recovery.
Strength Training during Pregnancy Myth #3:
Don’t perform exercises laying on your back after the 1st Trimester.
First of all if it feels okay to perform an exercise on your back, feel free to perform it until it no longer feels good. When performing strength training exercises you likely aren’t actually on your back for more than a minute at a time. More importantly I would say, is how you get up from the floor when performing exercise. Try to roll to your side when getting up especially.
This is my favorite glute exercise for all stages of pregnancy. You don’t even have to lay on your back for it 🙂
I try my best not to scare women and set unnecessary rules upon them unless absolutely necessary. Always talk to your OB/GYN or Midwife if you have concerns about this one.
Strength Training During Pregnancy Myth #4:
Just keep doing what you were doing before pregnancy, during pregnancy.
What if you didn’t strength train before pregnancy, does that mean you can’t start now?
I say that you can start strength training safely under the guide of a trained professional. These are two great certifications. Check out the links for a professional near you.
Pre and Postnatal Fitness Specialist
Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist.
I may be a bit bias but these certifications are amazingly informative, practical and up to date.
The flip side is “Just keep doing what you are doing,” or “Just listen to your body.” There are legitimate changes that occur in all stages of pregnancy and these recommendations simply aren’t good enough. When I get specific questions from strangers on the internet my advice is always IT DEPENDS. It’s not a lazy response it’s simply a fact.
How do YOU define “strength training”?
Do you have a solid background in strength training?
How would you define your strength training?
Classes at the gym? Strongman? CrossFit? Barre? Bodyweight? Kettlebells? Free weights? Powerlifting?
Have you had any complications with your pregnancy?
Are you experiencing morning sickness?
How were your previous deliveries?
Do you have Diastasis Recti?
How is your energy?
Have you seen Pelvic Floor PT?
Do you know if your pelvic floor is tight?
Now I know this seems like a barrage of questions but as a pre and postnatal corrective exercise specialist and a mother of two I have seen too much to simply give broad advice without digging deeper. Some women respond super awesome to pregnancy and have a ton of energy, while others have a boatload of aches and pains from the get go.
From my personal as well as client experience second and third pregnancies leave you with much less energy and time. Exercise should add to your energy, not suck you dry especially when you have little children to take care of.
Perhaps the 1 hr sessions you used to complete with ease now leave you drained. If this is you, set your ego aside cut back on the duration and intensity of your sessions.
Your pregnancy is temporary, postpartum is forever.
In terms of advice I keep it simple.
Think in terms of:
Push, pull, squat and hinge paying close attention to your alignment and posture and how these two things are changing as you progress with pregnancy and your new postpartum body.
Here are four of my favorite exercises that myself and clients have completed through all 3 trimesters of pregnancy and postpartum. There are awesome progressions and regressions for all of these exercises based on where you are in your pregnancy and how you answered the questions above!
Strength Training During Pregnancy Myth #5 You cannot work your abs during pregnancy.
It is absolutely okay to work your abs during pregnancy! Just not in the “traditional way” that you might be thinking. You likely won’t be planking and crunching in your second and third trimesters but as far as core work during pregnancy is concerned, here are my favorites!
As always speak directly with your midwife/ obgyn as far as individual issues are concerned.
***In my opinion postpartum (subsequent postpartums) can be an extremely different beast and I HIGHLY recommend that you work with someone who specializes in the postnatal population IN PERSON.
As always, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have specific strength training during pregnancy questions. If you would like a complete done for you guide when it comes to Strength Training During Pregnancy check out my online MILF program for all three trimesters!