Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fitness Workouts while Pregnant: Weights, belly and abs

Today I am entering week 24 of my pregnancy! And I've just starting feeling comfortable sharing with you on the affects pregnancy has been having on my body and my workouts. Last week, I shared how my running has been affected during the first trimester. Today, I wanted to share on how I've had to edit my lifting and group cardio workouts to fit my newly changing body.

I'm lifting half this weight now, and teaching
much less frequently.
The most impact the pregnancy has had on my lifting workouts so far is weight selection. In wanting to take it somewhat easy, while still staying active, during the first trimester, my first decision was to decrease the weights that I lift. Most of my lifting takes place while I'm teaching BodyPump these days, as I just want to let my body recover fully between workouts and so I have enough energy to teach my next class! :) The biggest shift that I have seen is in my squat and lunge weights; I have basically cut those in half and am not even attempting to increase while I'm pregnant - I'd rather just maintain the strength that I have. Everything else has just gone down slightly.

I usually recommend to my students that they focus on two or three body parts during a particular class and try and increase their weights on those and see how they feel. I'm following my own philosophy, however, I also recommend they create a new baseline weight selection for themselves, and I have mostly been only increasing weight for one class and then going back to my previous weight. For example, this past Monday I increased my biceps weight. Usually, I would recommend that my students then stay with that weight in the future while also increasing another weight, let's say squats, at the next class. This way, they will gradually increase their overall strength over time. Since I have a different focus now, to maintain strength, instead, on Friday, I will take my biceps weight back down to my "pregnancy baseline" and maybe increase my chest weight. This way I am still challenging myself, while also not over-exhausting myself and the baby.

Pre-pregnancy, when I could still do this on my toes!
As far as my belly and core, this is where I have also seen a difference. During the middle of the first trimester, I modified my core workouts by doing most of my planks on my knees rather than on my toes. I was surprised at how early on (as early as 10 weeks), I felt that I had less control of my abs than I am used too. So, any ab work that I did in the prone position, I modified early on.  I am still able to do crunches and leg extensions as well as other moves while on my back, however, I just take more frequent breaks. Just last week, while finishing up BodyPump, we were doing planks with hand pointers. I was feeling good, so I started on my toes, but after about two hand pointers, felt a pull/strain in my belly and basically lost strength control of my abs, so I finished on my knees. I am assuming that at some point in the next few months, prone work won't be possible for me and I'll figure out some alternatives when I get there. ;)

What is most important for all of us, even if you aren't pregnant, is to listen to your body. I was pretty fit going in to pregnancy, so I've been able to keep up a pretty good workout routine thus far. If you are just starting with your fitness BECAUSE of the baby growing inside you, remember that it's okay to start slow and to take it easy! Slow and steady wins the race. Walking, alone, can help keep your heart nice and strong and your blood flowing for both you and your baby. And always remember to talk with your physician before starting any exercise's even more important when you're pregnant.

How have you modified your exercise program during pregnancy? What has surprised you on your fitness journey through pregnancy?

1 comment:

  1. Impressive! My co-worker was a workout fanatic, doing 5am spin classes and then sometimes 2 a day workouts...then she found out she was pregnant and quit going to the gym. I've never been pregnant, so I can't comment on that but it made me laugh to think of the difference between the two of you :)