Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pregnancy & Strength Training

Why do I need to strength train?

The Reality
Pregnancy causes a plethora of physical changes to your body.  Many of the musculoskeletal changes that occur can result in muscular and postural imbalances.  These imbalances often lead to pain, discomfort and even injury during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

For Example
Heavier breasts, fatigue & lifestyle lead to kyphosis, a rounding forward of the shoulders accompanied by a forward position on the chin.  This can lead to pain & tension in the chest &neck, headaches, referred postural problems and difficulty breastfeeding.  By strengthening the upper and mid back muscles and stretching the chest and neck muscles, we can balance our bodies and prevent/restore optimal health.

The Good News
We can prevent and correct imbalances by maintaining a strong & flexible body.  A safe & effective prenatal strength training program focuses on muscular endurance: 2-3 days/week, 1-2 sets, 10-15 repetitions.  If strength training is totally new for you, consider joining a prenatal fitness class or working with a certified personal trainer with further prenatal fitness certifications.

Some Tips on Strength Training Safely & Effectively Through your Pregnancy
  1. Before beginning or continuing any exercise program, it’s important to discuss your plans with your healthcare provider.  You’ll also want to read, fill out and sign a Par-Med-X for Pregnancy (available at 
  2. Avoid exercising on your back from 4-months onward.  Doing so could interfere with blood flow to mom & baby.  
  3. Drink enough water BEFORE, DURING and AFTER exercising.  Remember, if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. 
  4. Warm up for 7-10 minutes before beginning your strength training routine.
  5. Follow the National Guidelines for Prenatal Strength Training: 

    Frequency: 2-3 days/week (48 hours+ between sessions)
    Intensity: moderate 
    Time: 1-3 sets of 10-15 quality reps (muscular endurance)
    Type: Free weights, strength machines, tubing, body ball etc

  6. Do all strength-training exercises slowly and with control.  Do not lock your joints or swing your limbs.
  7. Have a neutral spine with a stable core.
  8. Breath!  (Breathe out on exertion)
  9. Cool down for 5 – 10 minutes after your strength training routine.
  10. After you cool down, stretch all major muscles used for 30 seconds each.

Areas to Strengthen
Upper/Mid Back – postural correction
Shoulders  - overuse injury prevention
Biceps – babies are heavy ☺
Triceps – to balance those strong biceps
Core – postural correction
Pelvic Floor – prevent incontinence
Thighs – functional strength for pregnancy & beyond
Gluts  - postural correction

Areas to Stretch
You should stretch all major muscle groups after your cool down.  The following areas may need special attention:
Chest – postural correction
Back – tension relief and postural correction
Hamstrings – postural correction
Hips & Gluts – postural correction and improved sleep comfort
Calves – reduces leg cramps

Ready to try a Fit 4 Two class?  Contact your local Fit 4 Two Instructor for a pass to try a FREE class.

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