I have been asked several times recently if it is ok to strength train while pregnant. I was the big bellied pregnant lady lifting weights with my 4th son. …and I loved it!! Strength training while pregnant was so relaxing and enjoyable. My focus was getting stronger and toning muscle, not on how my body looked. I still gained 35-40lbs. But, the weight flew (couple of months) off my body after I had the baby. It went away much quicker with the 4th pregnancy, when I strength trained, than it did for my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies. With my first son, I was young and in shape from competitive swimming. The weight came off quickly for me then also. So what does this mean? Muscle helps me burn fat! I am walking proof.
This is me 8 months pregnant with #4. Photo by Denise Nicklas.
There are many benefits to strength training. These continue to be beneficial when pregnant:
-increases lean mass
-increases your metabolic rate. Muscle continues to burn calories even at rest…even up to 48 hours after a work out!
-building muscle builds bone mass…..fighting osteoporosis
-can improve the overall function of your body in everyday living….balance, strength, less injury, etc.
-can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels
-makes you feel better
-makes you look better
How to get started strength training while pregnant:
1. Talk to your doctor first. Make sure they clear you for exercise. They will most likely tell you to be careful, don’t strain your body, and keep your heart rate under a certain number.
2. Start with lighter weight and higher repetitions (12-15).
3. Do things that make you feel very stable on your feet. You do not want to risk falling. Save the box jumps for after the baby! J
4. Avoid lying flat on your back. Opt for the incline bench instead to keep pressure off of your vena cava (major vein).
6. Avoid the leg press machine. It just doesn’t seem right for a pregnant lady to be pushing a ton of weight with her legs. I would recommend body weight leg exercises for the most part. Lunges…squats with dumbbells, etc.
7. Hire a trainer to teach you about strength training and to take the guess work out of what you can and shouldn’t do. If you are in the Ft. Knox/Elizabethtown, KY area, come see me!
In my non-medical professional opinion, strength training while pregnant (if you are cleared by a doc) is the way to go! I generally walked at an incline on the treadmill for 20 minutes or so after I lifted weights. My body felt more strained doing that than curling a few dumbbells. Go for it!