In recent years, pregnant women have been busting the myth surrounding fitness and pregnancy. While pregnancy absolutely changes many aspects of our lifestyles, staying fit is not one of them. Prenatal workout routines, ranging from cardio to bodyweight strength training, are taught at gyms, private studios, and online.
Whether you've got an established fitness routine or just getting started, you can safely lift weights during your pregnancy. Of course, you should always have your workout plan approved by your OBGYN. Once your doctor clears you for exercise, you can begin strength training, with or without weights.
Prenatal Strength Training At Home
Working out at home is now more mainstream than it has ever been. There are endless available programs that will assist anyone in getting into or staying in shape at home. Access to effective, safe prenatal workouts are everywhere, and we no longer have to worry about getting out to the gym, especially with other little ones at home!
Our prenatal strength training routines do not have to be strenuous or challenging. Simple, straightforward exercises that allow for modifications will undoubtedly help to improve or sustain fitness levels. The best part of working out at home, prenatal or not, is that we can do it at any time during the day, and minimal equipment is required.
Necessary Equipment for Home Strength Training
Media devices are necessary to watch or stream prenatal workouts. Most fitness platforms work seamlessly with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and personal computers. It's a good idea to utilize a mat to strength train, as it protects the knees and back during groundwork.
Other than that, light to medium-weight dumbbells and resistance bands will get the job done! Bodyweight exercises are just as effective for those who prefer not to lift or don't have access to dumbbells or bands!
The equipment needed will also depend on workout preferences. There are many forms of strength-building exercises, such as Pilates and yoga, where instead of weights, excellent results come from props like straps, blocks, and the circle.
Feel Fantastic with These Strength-Based Workout Routines
Feeling good during pregnancy can have its challenges. The early weeks can be exhausting, making it really easy to fall out of a workout routine. These days are crucial to take it easy, so don't push it. However, once the exhaustion begins to lift, settling into a strength-based workout routine that aligns with your fitness level will help increase energy levels and leave you feeling great.
There are plenty of pregnancy-safe exercises that fall under the umbrella of bodyweight training. From lunges and push-ups to squats and lateral pull-downs, you can do almost any exercise using only your bodyweight as long as you focus on resistance.
For example, pretend your body is moving through peanut butter during a lateral pull-down. Keep your core muscles as tight as possible, move slowly, and focus on creating muscle resistance to make the exercise more effective. Try these bodyweight exercises to help you establish a workout routine:
● Modified push-ups (push-ups on your knees)
● Seated hip bridge
● Side plank, either modified or advanced
● Bird dogs
● Standing oblique crunch
● Squat to leg lift
● Stationary lunge with a tricep kickback or chest fly
How many reps and rounds you do is entirely up to you. After all, this is your workout!
Traditional Strength Training
Free weights are perfect for building muscle, improving cardiovascular health, and feeling good overall. You don't need anything heavy to gain muscle tone; dumbbells ranging from 2 to 10 pounds will do. If you think you can go heavier, talk to your doctor in detail first. When it comes to traditional strength training, you can do almost any bodyweight exercise and add weights. Here are some great examples of exercises that you can do with added weight:
● Sumo squats
● Curtsy lunges
● Forward and backward lunges
● Modified renegade rows (on your knees)
● Bicep curls
● Tricep kickbacks
● Weighted bridge
Weights during pregnancy are entirely optional, and the further along you get, the more tempted you might be to stop using them. If that day comes, but you find yourself longing for some resistance, it might be time to bring in the bands.
Resistance Band Training
Resistance bands are a miracle invention for weight training and strength conditioning. Bands work by asking you to stretch against your body, creating resistance without tension and helping you build up a sweat.
Most bands come in packages with different resistance levels, ranging from light to extra heavy. The one you choose depends on your personal preference and fitness level. With plenty of resistance band tutorials available online, there are various exercises you can do to tone and stretch while utilizing bands.
● Leg lifts
● Chest flys
● Tricep pulses
● Walking squats
● Donkey kicks
● Lateral pull-downs
Bands are the perfect meeting space between bodyweight training and free weights. Plus, they're small and easy to store.
Pilates, Barre, and Yoga
If you're interested in building strength and sweat, then these three low-impact options might be perfect for you. However, you'll want to make sure that you choose a class targeting pregnancy workouts.
Participants spend a decent chunk of Pilates and yoga classes on their stomachs, and this is something you'll want to avoid, along with certain inversions and backbends. A course specifically for pregnant women is very safe for you and your baby, and you'll perform strength and balance-boosting exercises such as:
● Heel lifts
● Rainbow arcs
● Leg lifts
● Leg circles
● Scissor kicks
● Downward Facing Dog
● Chair Pose
● Warrior Poses
If you're looking for low impact and an incredible workout, these types of classes and courses could work well for you. You'll move slower, and it's unlikely you'll use weights, but you'll definitely feel the burn!
The Benefits of Strength Training During Pregnancy
There are plenty of benefits that come along with strength training during pregnancy. If you feel well enough to exercise often, you should do so. The perks are undeniable, such as:
First and foremost, moving your body will help you manage your pregnancy weight gain, leaving you feeling fit and energetic.
Lower Risk of Gestational Diabetes
By exercising or strength training regularly, you could lower your risk of gestational diabetes by up to almost 60%.
Lower Risk of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is scary, especially for women at a high risk of developing it. Speak with your doctor if you're at risk, and if you get approval, light exercise may reduce your chances of developing preeclampsia.
Body image is something we all struggle with at one point. Pregnancy asks so much of your body, and the changes women go through are astronomical. Weight training can help improve that body image during pregnancy because it improves your mental state. Those feel-good exercise endorphins are not a myth!
According to studies, resistance training during pregnancy may be especially good for fetal development. Of course, exercise is not the deciding factor of newborn health, but it definitely doesn't hurt to grab your bands and participate in movement!
Pregnancy hormones can wreak absolute havoc on your moods, which can be frustrating for you and those around you. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain linked to mood improvement. While exercise is not a cure-all for prenatal or postnatal depression, by any means, moving helps to lift moods and can leave you feeling positive. If you're struggling to find motivation, start with a short but brisk walk outdoors.
Powering Through Labor
Exercise helps get through the most challenging part of pregnancy; labor. Not only will you lower your chance of requiring a cesarean section, which is major surgery, but women that resistance train during their pregnancies typically have a shorter active labor period. Of course, this is not true for everyone. Every labor story is unique and different, but if there's a possibility to shorten active labor naturally, take it!
Low Back Pain
Pregnancy-related lower back pain is borderline excruciating. Around 50% of pregnant women (possibly more) have low-back pain at some point during their pregnancy and in the postpartum period. Focusing on core and trunk muscles, such as your glutes, legs, and back, will strengthen those muscles and may help to eliminate lower back pain during and after your pregnancy.
Moving within our lives is crucial to living well, and strength training helps us do just that. Strength is necessary for being a new mom, from lifting children and groceries to picking up at home and wielding those ever-awkward car seat carriers.
Adding on to Your Strength Routine
You can do additional exercises to improve your mood and overall health and positively affect your upcoming labor. While resistance and strength training are fantastic options, they're not the only ones available. In addition to strength, you can try:
● Walking uphill
● Very light jogging unless you're already an avid runner
● Stationary bike
● Elliptical machine
Having a Fit Pregnancy at Home
Fitscope remains dedicated to our cardio and strength-based prenatal workouts. We believe in fitness for all and that there are few things more important, especially during pregnancy, than taking the time to care for yourself mentally and physically through exercise. Don't wait for another second. Contact us regarding our prenatal classes today!