Strength Training While Pregnant

Updated on September 08, 2008
T.S. asks from Angleton, TX
27 answers

I just found out yesterday that we are pregnant, which is great because we've been trying for a few months. 2 weeks ago I started lifting weights at the gym to tone up because I have lost 73 lbs over the last year. I am only working my arms, legs and back, and I'm not overdoing it; the most that I lift is 75# and that's with my legs and I'm not straining to do it. So I was wondering if any of you Mama's have experience in exercise and/ or medicine and if it is ok for me to continue doing this into my pregnancy. I also do cardio 4 days a week, so I'm getting that exercise, too. My first appointment is not until October 3, so I can't ask him about this just yet. Thanks in advance!!

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C.G.

answers from Houston on

Hey T., Is there instrutors at the gym?? If so ask one of them Just to see if they might know. I have heard that if it is something that you were doing before you got pregnant then it should be ok but still ask a professional.

texasbelle55

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V.L.

answers from Houston on

Hi T.,
I have a degree in Exercise Physiology from Tx A&M and I've been personal training for about 3 years now.

Getting back into exercising while you are pregnant is just fine. You just want to make sure that you don't overdo it. if you're tired, take a break that day and come back the next day. Start slowly, lower weights, higher reps, which it sounds like you are doing. A full body workout is also fine (all muscles, -legs (quadriceps & hamstrings), abs, chest, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders. And cardio is great. All of this will help you during labor and recovering from your pregnancy. Specifically working your upper and lower back will help you with your enlarging chest and belly to help you have good posture and hopefully help your back not to hurt so much.*

I would also recommend working on balance exercises, for example doing a bicep curl standing on 1 leg, instead of sitting or standing on both legs. As your belly and your chest get larger, your center of gravity will change and your balance will be thrown off a bit and your proprioception (sense of where your body parts are) will also be thrown off-i.e. you will run your belly into tables, etc. But exercising and focusing on your muscles while your working them, will help with this.

Stretching will also be really good for you. Take some beginner yoga classes or if your gym has some specifically geared towards pre & post natal that would be even better.

Just be careful later on in your pregnancy, the end of the 2nd trimester and definitely in the 3rd trimester, lying on your back. The weight of the baby may put too much pressure on your vena cava (one of your arteries) making blood flow decrease and that's not good. It's okay to lay on your back for short periods of time - like to do a few sets of chest press with breaks in between the sets- you just don't want to do a whole class where you're lying on your back to stretch or do abs, etc. The Stability ball and BOSU ball are great to use. With the BOSU ball you can sit half way up and do some small range of motion crunches. (Hard to describe without showing you.)

*I worked out all during my pregnancy, both cardio & strength training. I never waddled, my back never hurt-just uncomfortable from being so big, carrying my son is still easy for me since I still work my biceps & back, and quads/legs to help me pick him up.

Also I got to a point where fast walking was difficult for me. The muscles that hold your uterus were strained too much. However, I could easily participate in step aerobics and kickboxing (without the jumping of course)and I didn't have the pain I had when I walked. So if one mode of exercise doesn't work try something else. Water Aerobics is always a great option. (I teach that, too.) It's not just for old ladies. You can make it as easy or as hard as you want depending on how fast you move your body through the water.

One more quick thing, if you get a cramp in your calf, stop working out. Stretch it out and wait until the next day to finish your exercise.

I hope this is helpful. You have some great advice below. I agree with everything the other trainer wrote. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me [email protected]____.com

V. Luu

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L.P.

answers from Houston on

i used to work out with a trainer and he said once that if you were working out before you got pregnant that it was okay to keep up what you were doing, except maybe abs.

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D.L.

answers from Houston on

Where do you live? I am a personal trainer and a mom of 3. There are definitely limitations during pregnancy and the first trimester you have to be the most careful. You build up more toxins during pregnancy. As long as you were lifting before you are fine to while you are pregnant. Yoga and cardio are good as well. If you are interested I can go more in depth with you. My website www.aaronlorenz.com. Good luck and I wish you the best.

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L.S.

answers from Allentown on

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I ran through my pregnancy-well up til I felt like the baby was about ready to fall out from all the pressure anyway! :) I also did yoga and some weight lifting. As long as you were doing it before you got pregnant and you focus on how it makes you feel- stopping when anything is uncomfortable or painful- it's fine. It's actually very helpful to continue to exercise your body during pregnancy. it helps with your delivery and your recovery!

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A.W.

answers from Austin on

Congratulations on the baby, and good for you for wanting to continue working out! I worked out until 2-3weeks before I delivered, and I think all that exercise helped as I was in labor for only 4hrs and she was out w/in 30min! I stopped running however but continued to ride the stationary bike and elliptical machine. I did decrease the amt of weights I used and did upper body and legs. I think it's fine to continue what you're doing but keep in mind there is a little one inside you so don't overwork yourself. While you're exercising and lifting, also remember to increase your caloric intake and drink plenty of water! During my 8th & 9th month I switched from working out, to just walking, then to Pilates. I got the video that is seen on TV w/ Daisy Fuentes and it helped soo much. By those last few months it was difficult to even walk so I swithced to Pilates and eventhough it's low impact I felt good about helping my body and I know I wasn't hurting my child. Good Luck & Keep It Up!!!

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S.W.

answers from Austin on

I have always been told it safe in a normal pregnancy to continue any activities your body is already used to. I trained for a 60 mile walk during one of my pregnancies without problems. I also did light weightlifting during both pregnancies. I would not do anything that involve straining during the first trimester though. I would continue your workouts, but just lighten upp some until you have been checked out in case there are issues that you are unaware of.

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K.T.

answers from San Antonio on

Congrats on your pregnancy and your weight loss! I am personal trainer who specializing in pre and postnatal training and I am also a mom of two boys. And I can tell you from both a professional stand point and a personal stand point that it is safe to continue to do resistance training while pregnant (I was one of those huge preggos who was at the gym days before both of my sons were born). I would however first talk to your doctor, and then at your gym take one or two sessions with a personal trainer. Your trainer can give you a safe and effective workout. A few important things to remember during pregnancy:
1. Always remember to breath, particularly while doing resistance work. It sounds simple enough but I have had many clients who forget and hold their breath during a muscle contraction. This can lead to a spike in blood pressure. And remember if you aren't getting oxygen neither is your baby.
2. Cardio workouts can be very effective in keeping pregnancy weight gain within a healthy range. The old "don't get your heart rate above 140" isn't recommended by most modern doctors- it's based on horribly out dated information. You should however be able to carry on a light conversation while performing your cardio. If you ever have bleeding, abdominal cramping, dizziness, stop immediately.
3. Don't over fatigue yourself. When you are lifting never strain.
4. By the second trimester switch to low/non impact aerobic exercise. Pregnancy causes laxity in the joints and can cause joint issues if you continue high impact exercise (such as running).
5. Most important is just don't over do it. Listen to your body. In early pregnancy fatigue is rampant- especially because you have an older child that you probably chase all day (I was in the same boat as you last year). If you need to take it easy one day you should do so. As you progress in your pregnancy you will find that you will need to lower your resistance in both your weight training and your cardio workouts.
Best of luck to you!!!

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M.M.

answers from Austin on

Keep doing the hard core working out. I did it until my tennis shoes didn't fit: 8 months. You can continue to do your weight lifting, but I would cut it back to under 10 pounds, mainly because you don't need to BUILD muscle, just maintain it, while pregnant. Doing squats and lunges with NO weight is going to be the best exercise for you. My doctor always told me...listen to your body, if it's too hard, back off a little. Congratulations on the weight loss, AND the pregnancy!

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P.H.

answers from Austin on

It's important not to overheat, so if you are working out at a gym that will help in this heat! also, ask one of the trainers at your gym for tips (even if you have to pay for one session it will be worth it to keep you in shape safely for the entire pregnancy). And even if you are not set to see your doctor yet, maybe you can call your nurse line at your ob's office. I know my ob/gyn nurses were there to answer lots of those kinds of questions between appts.
I did yoga through all three of my pregnancies and the main change with that was not to do deep abdominal twists or upside-down stuff. As your ligaments and tendons loosen you will need to protect your hips and knees more from injury, probably by using lighter weights with more reps, but that will be later in the fall. And balance becomes an issue with some women, as do lower back injury risks, but if you are already strong you may avoid these issues because you have been working out and lifting weights. Listen to your body and keep the oxygen flowing during your workouts...you are breathing for two now! Enjoy your healthy, happy pregnancy!

P. (mom to three funny boys ages 7, 5 and turning 3 on Monday!)

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H.F.

answers from San Angelo on

Even if you don't see the doc, you can always call and ask the nurse. I think if you are not high risk you should be fine with the toning and Cardio. I would be really careful with any squats or calf raises because they raise your blood pressure high, fast and can cause dizziness. Good for you for having come so far with your weight loss, you will find this pregnancy and delivery much easier than you otherwise would have! Good luck!

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K.H.

answers from Killeen on

Congratulations!!! how exciting for you ...
I was told that if you were doing it before you were pregnant that it is OK to continue after you are pregnant. But if you have history of normal healthy pregnancies.
I was always told by my doula that cardio and light weights were great for pregnancy, she explained it as though you are training for a marathon during your pregnancy in getting ready for labor. "labor" being the marathon.
I would continue but cut back a little just to make sure until your next appointment.
I had two high risk pregnancies after 4 miscarriages and still continued to do light exercise during my two pregnancies that I was able to carry long enough to give birth. My OB did not have a problem with me doing light exercise, she said that as long as I do not strain or have to hold my breath to lift it was alright. She thought the benefit highly outweighed the risk.

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J.K.

answers from Austin on

I take a weight class and I see a VERY pregnant woman there every time. I do see that she sits out during certain routines, but works on something in the meantime. I would check with your doctor... Good for you for wanting to stay fit..

K.N.

answers from Austin on

Hi T.: I was really worried about this when I was pregnant also. The medical concern is that you don't want to exercise to the point of decreasing your oxygen intake and having the workout becoming anaerobic... Because, the baby is surviving on the oxygen in your blood. If you limit your blood oxygen, you are also depriving oxygen to the baby (the baby's heart and brain). Unfortunately, most weight loss requires anaerobic exercise... Below I pasted in some info I found explaining the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

However, my doctor's response to that same question was "your exercise should allow you to sing... If you can't sing a song at any point during the workout, then your oxygen is getting low and its making stressful conditions on the baby."

Anaerobic Exercise:

The words aerobic and anaerobic refer to energy pathways that are utilised during exercise. Aerobic means "with oxygen" and anaerobic means "without oxygen".

Fat needs oxygen to burn completely; in order to burn fat during an exercise we need to move slowly and smoothly. This enables muscle cells to be supplied with enough oxygen to continue with its aerobic capacity and utilize fat as the main energy source.

Anaerobic exercise requires moving at an increased pace or with greater effort. Exercising this way burns more calories but results in a greater demand for oxygen which cannot be delivered in sufficient quantities to allow cells to continue burning fat. When we breath heavy we start to develop an oxygen debt and muscle cells switch to burning mainly carbohydrates, this fuel burns quickly and does not require oxygen.

Anaerobic exercises such as sprinting or weight training require more effort and up to 95% of the fuel used will be carbohydrates. Although anaerobic exercises burn more carbohydrates, they can be important in a weight loss program. They help burn fat indirectly by increasing the metabolic rate after an exercise session.

By the way, Congrats!

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S.K.

answers from Houston on

Hi T.,I type very slow ,so it would be better for you to make an appt. to see me. My name is ShaunKelley.com and I work with many pre & post pregnant mothers. I will not charge u a dime and I will help u. God bless and look forward to helping u! Just call ###-###-####

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A.N.

answers from Austin on

Hi T. -

Congrats on losing all that weight!!! And congrats on getting pregnant!

If your body is used to the workout, go for it. However, you mentioned that you just started this - my only concern is that your body is working 24-7 right now creating the most important development parts of this baby right now. I would lighten up if you feel tired - this is a sign for you to get more rest and slow down a little. Make sure you take really excellent vitaminss - for pregnancy - my fav is the mother/baby pre-natals from Pure Essence labs - I highly recommend these -not cheap but you get what you pay for and can find them online for better prices (I found these to be far superior than the rest) - and make sure you also take filtered EFA (essential fatty acids) - filtered promises that there is no heavy metal contamination(mercury) and very important for babies' brain development - there's a great one at People's Rx in Austin, but you can get cheaper online too. This will boost your body, helping you and your baby for peak health.

Also you can check with your OB doc - I would ask or get a book on critical growth periods in the womb - when these times are, for the baby; and then cool it with the work outs - modify a bit, according to how you feel - and your doc will tell you how far you can go with the exercise. I feel it is great for the baby to have a mom that works out - Good luck!

Alli

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K.P.

answers from Houston on

Call you doctor and ask. I have my nurses number on file and can call with questions anytime.

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M.K.

answers from Victoria on

I exercised regularly during my first pregnancy. I HAD to stop at 8 months! ha ha My doctor said as long as my body was used to that type of exercise before pregnancy it was fine to continue. Of course, walking is always good.

Congratulations on your weight loss! That is what I need to do - about 40 pounds!

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K.B.

answers from El Paso on

Congratulations!!!

Yes you can continue doing what you are doing. You do want to watch the supplements you are taking throughout your pregnancy, I would just take prenatal vitamins, no caffeine,plenty of water and milk (if you plan on nursing). Working out and exercise does ease the process of your pregnancy and your labor.

Also your body will go back into place with ease after the baby.

Before my first son I was body building. When I found out I was pregnant, I did not stop I was just not increasing weight as quickly and I did stopped taking my vitamins to switch over to the prenatal vitamins. I also did step aerobics the entire time of my pregnancy. I enjoyed every bit of my pregnancy and had NO complications!

I hope this helps T.! Congratulations again and God Bless!

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B.S.

answers from San Antonio on

If I was in your situation I would call the doctor. I rather be safe than sorry. Also the people at the gym might be able to offer you some suggestions. Good luck and Congrats....

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K.G.

answers from Houston on

I was very physically active prior to pregnancy and continued to be while pregnant. My doctor said since I was active before, both weight training and cardio, is was no problem to continue. I exercised faithfully till about 1 week prior to delivery. However, if you are new to the gym, and sounds like you are as it pertains to weight training, I would start by lifting very, very light weights. This is something new that your muscles are not used to so you need to take it easy. Pregnancy is not the time to start a physical fitness plan since your body will be undergoing so many changes, but I know you want to try to keep your body fit and there is nothing wrong with that! Just keep it light and easy till you talk to your doctor.

Happy Exercising!

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A.D.

answers from Houston on

Congratulaions on your weight loss and pregnancy. I worked with a trainer before, during and after my first pregnancy. If you are just pregnant, you should be fine until you see your dr. I wouldn't overdo the cardio...esp. if you tend to push yourself. When I became larger, my trainer changed my workout so that I wasn't doing exercises that challenged my balance. I also used the exercise ball quite a bit so I wasn't on the floor. I also sat on it quite a bit towards to end when I did arm and shoulder exercises. At about 3 or 4 months, I switched from doing ab work to more exercises for my lower back. Check-out an issue of Fit Pregnancy magazine. They always have pregnancy exercises and guidelines for your heart rate, etc. I can say that I worked out until 2 weeks before delivery (scheduled c-section) and I was back in the gym at 6 weeks after delivery and I was able to jump right back into my exercise routine including ab work. Good Luck!

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N.M.

answers from Houston on

Good for you to keep up with exercising during pregnacy! I exercised up until a few days before delivery, and I know that helped me get back into shape quickly (and not gain a ton of weight). Best advice I got was "listen to your body". It will tell you if you're over doing it and you'll know when to change your routine. For example, when pregnant, I could no longer push myself when lifting weights, and had to lighten my load (all your blood is going to the baby now, not to building your muscles). And of course, your doc will be able to tell you if you can't work out, but if you're not experiencing any complications, then you should be fine. Keep it up - it's so worth it!

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R.C.

answers from San Antonio on

It's great to exercise even during a pregnancy. I worked out all through my pregnancy up to 2 days before I delivered my son. My OB/GYN just said to keep my heart rate below 140 beats per minute otherwise it could raise your body temp too much which would not be good for the baby. She also advised to not lay flat to do ab work. Do crunches on a ball. Other than those two stipulations, my doctor was fine with me working out and lifting weights during my pregnancy.

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E.M.

answers from Austin on

Congrats-
I exercised through most of my pregnancy. I did cardio and a lift classes before I was pregnant. I was told it was ok to continue as long as I paid attention to what my body was telling me. If I started to feel bad I would modify or not do that type of exercise. I was told not to increase the weights I was lifting, just to keep at what my body could already handle. Exercise is great for you and your baby as long as you feel good doing it. Hope that helps.

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C.B.

answers from Austin on

Keep up the good work! I did weight training and even ran/walked a 1/2 marathon. Just make sure you do not push yourself- If you would like some guidelines check out these couple of great books on the subjects- Fit to Deliver and Buff Moms to be. I have them so let me know if you are interested in checking them out. [email protected]____.com
Congrats! and good luck!
C.

R.D.

answers from College Station on

Fitness is always a good idea with pregnancy...just don't try to lose weight anymore. Also, toward the end your bones will start getting soft...and your back could be hurt by weights....you might want to take up other things by then anyway though.

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