How to Exercise During Pregnancy
- The period after Christmas Day and before New Year’s Eve, mainly spent sitting down and eating leftovers. Many find it extremely dull.
“I’m so bored. It feels like crimbo limbo’s been going on forever…”
While many turn to binge watching Netflix and eating all the Christmas leftovers and snacks, turns out the British public have another past time they like to indulge in during this period.
On average 1,800 babies are born each day in England and Wales. But according to the most recent study from the Office for National Statistics, September 26th is the most popular birthday with around 2,000 being born that day, meaning Boxing Day is exactly nine months earlier! We’re not saying there’s a link, but we’re not saying there isn’t either 😉
So if you’re one of the lucky ones to conceive over the Christmas period, now seems like the ideal time to understand how you can adapt your workouts to safely exercise during pregnancy, to keep you and your baby safe and not have to give up on exercise completely.
For some women pregnancy can be a mental and physical barrier that prevents you from any exercise during pregnancy (and that’s OK, listen to your body and what makes you comfortable). However, pregnancy can also be an amazing motivator in achieving better health. The NHS has stated that exercise is not dangerous for your baby. In fact, it is recommended to exercise during pregnancy. Women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour if they have kept active in the early stages, making it easier to adapt to your changing shape and weight.
One myth we need to immediately debunk is that “lifting weights is bad for you and your baby”. Exercise during pregnancy will aid you in avoiding the aches and pains as your bump grows, strengthening your body and preparing you for life after the baby’s birth – lifting, carrying, pram pushing etc. If you’re planning on strength training during pregnancy, it’s always best to check with your doctor or midwife first.
Below are a few movements you should be safely incorporating into your workouts if you exercise during pregnancy.
Please note: Aim to stay away from any machine with a pad that presses against your belly.
As your breasts grow it can lead to your shoulders rounding forward to support the extra weight. Strengthening the back muscles between your shoulder blades will help your posture and prevent the slump.
- Seated Chest Press
- Seated Flys
- Bench Press Ups
The last thing we want to do is create an imbalance in your body at this time. So also working your chest will prevent that.
With your practitioner’s okay, it’s safe to exercise your core throughout your entire pregnancy with the proper modifications. We’ve gone into the importance of working your core over your abs in a previous post – here
- Standing Crunches
- Pelvic Tilts
- Side Plank or Kneeling Side Plank
- Seated Knee Lift
- Standing Crunch
With all the stretching that your ab muscles go through during pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby, safely strengthening your abs/core is vital.
Arms & Shoulders
These exercises are great as they are all performed either standing, sitting or laying on the floor.
- Bicep Curls
- Tricep Extensions Overhead
- Alternating Straight Arm Raise
- Seated Shoulder Raises
Legs – Squat Variations
- Bodyweight Squats – Hold on to the back of a chair for balance in the third trimester.
- Chair/Bosu Ball Squats
- Squats against the wall with an exercise ball
- Sumo Squats
Squats are great for your posture, working your lower-body muscles and they tone your thighs and butt at the same time. This movement also has the potential to assist with the birthing process and doesn’t need to be performed with additional weight in order to be beneficial.
What to Avoid
When implementing any of these exercises into a workout plan please do so safely. In addition, there are some exercises that are not recommended when pregnant:
- NO standing overhead lifting since this kind of motion can increase the curve in your lower spine.
- NO contact sports.
- NO exercises requiring controlled correct knee and shoulder alignment. These specific techniques in pregnancy are difficult.
- NO circuit classes using barbells and fast movements. e.g. CrossFit style training, which encourages the use of lifting heavy weights in a timed circuit.
- NO exercises that use heavy barbells behind your neck after your first trimester (use dumbbells instead)
- NO weighted sit-ups.
- NO activity that requires you to over-exert yourself or strain too much.
- NO movements that risk the bar touching the baby bump. (Deadlifts, upright rows, clean and press etc).
- NO classes that aren’t specifically designed for pregnancy.
Best Equipment to Use When Pregnant
Safety is key when you exercise during pregnancy, making resistance bands the best piece of equipment you can use. It allows you to work in various positions to target different muscle groups, vary the weight/resistance, and have no chance of heavy impact on your bump. Incorporate any of the exercises above using our Raze Resistance Bands.
- You want to avoid strain on your joints so use a weight that feels light to moderate. Aim for 8-12 reps with a lightweight.
- Make sure you control your breathing when you’re lifting weights. The body needs oxygen while you’re working out.
- Before training, tell your trainer or instructor you are pregnant.
- If you’re planning on strength training during pregnancy, it’s always best to check with your doctor or midwife first.