Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines

I never expected to be training pregnant women, but when one of my favorite clients Maggie found out the good news, I knew I had to learn everything I could about the effects of working out during pregnancy. I didn’t realize how stressed I would be over training a pregnant woman, especially a client I had been training twice a week for over a year. She could do anything and would without hesitation, but now I was frightened to my core to train her. So I began asking fellow trainers experienced in pre/post-natal training and went online for as much information as I could…maybe learned too much haha. I was surprised by how little information was available about working out during pregnancy, it’s not like active women getting pregnant was anything new. A lot of the resources my client and I researched just didn’t seem to offer sound advice. My best guess is that people are too afraid of letting pregnant women do anything. My next step was to get certified in pre/post-natal training under one of the most experienced pre/post-natal trainers in the world, Annette Lang. So based on what I learned from all of my research, here’s some basic guidelines for exercises during pregnancy:

  1. Exercise to stay active at your current level of fitness, not to increase performance
  2. Avoid hot, humid environments
  3. Stay well hydrated
  4. Longer warmups and cooldowns
  5. Reduce your frequency, intensity and time of exercise as the pregnancy progresses
  6. Exercise on flat, even surfaces
  7. Wear supportive footwear
  8. Avoid overstretching or moving thru extreme ranges of motion
  9. Avoid activities that have a high risk of falling, injury or direct abdominal trauma (well…duh)
  10. Avoid rapid changes of position (ie. lying to immediately standing)
  11. Avoid lying flat on back after 1st trimester, use a body wedge, incline bench or large towel under right side of body only
  12. Do kegel exercises to maintain strength of pelvic floor: 10-20 sets of 50 reps each (ie. like when you try to stop peeing)
  13. Use deep core muscles (like lifting a baby…borrow one)
  14. Good exercises: pelvic tilts (hands on the hip, imagine tilting a bucket of water forward and backward), bridges, quadripeds (on all fours), forearm planks, standing torso rotations, cat/cow
  15. Train posture to accomdate increased breast size thru retraction of shoulder blades, external rotation (rolling shoulders back), stretching delts, pecs and lats
  16. Watch for unusual symptoms of rapid or irregular heart beat, headache, vaginal bleeding or loss of amniotic fluid, joint pain, severe fatigue, muscle weakness, chest pain

Update: Maggie gave birth to a ridiculously good looking and healthy baby girl, Eleven, on 7/5/12. Congratulations Maggie.

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