It’s a pretty well known fact that light or even moderate exercise during pregnancy is good for you. In fact, there’s a lot of data to suggest that engaging in exercise can make labor easier (yes, even something as simple as Kegels). But what about for those of us who don’t just participate in cardio. What about those of us who have realized that strength training is the way to get the body we want?
Is It Safe to Lift Weights During Pregnancy?
When first asked the question, most people say no. In most cases they don’t have data to back it up, but it just doesn’t seem right. We would argue that this is rooted in the general misconception/stereotype that “weightlifting isn’t for women” in the first place. The weight room at the gym should be filled with the bros and the girls should stick to the elliptical. Carry that mentality one step forward to pregnancy, and you can bet most people are shocked to think that a girl would even consider getting in the squat rack with a baby bump.
But BS misinformation aside, is it safe? After all, it’s natural to want to do everything in your power to make sure your baby is safe and healthy. According to AmericanPregnancy.org, the truth is that when done right, strength training will not increase your risk of miscarriage. However, you need to be smart about it.
Guidelines for Lifting Weights During Pregnancy
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you strength train during your pregnancy.
- Concentrate on maintenance, not gains. Pregnancy is not the time to try and build muscle mass. If you’re currently involved in a program like StrongLifts where you’re trying to up the weight you lift each session, you probably want to reconsider. The idea here is to maintain your muscle throughout pregnancy and prevent unneeded fat gain.
- Lower the intensity. This goes along with number one. If you’re used to squatting 150 lbs for 8 reps, grunting all the way, you probably want to change things up. Maybe cut that in half and up the reps. Again, you’re not trying to build new strength when pregnant–you’re looking to maintain. Keep yourself from straining during your lifts. Instead, focus on keeping your good form with a weight that is much lighter than you’re used to.
- Don’t start a new program during pregnancy. If you weren’t lifting before, now is not the time to start. You’d be better off getting out and walking everyday just to keep things moving, calories burning, and the heartrate slightly elevated.
- If you bench, bench inclined. Lying flat on your back ater your first trimester can put pressure on a major vein that will reduce bloodflow to the fetus. Incline the bench and you can fix the problem.
- Ease up as you get further into pregnancy. Obviously, your body changes farther in, so things you could do at the beginning won’t work for you towards the end.
- Don’t skip the squats. If you’ve been squatting, keep it up. Afterall, it’s the natural birth position. Of course, it’s going to be much more difficult the further in you are. And at some point, let’s be honest…you might pee yourself! So be prepared!
- Stay stable. One of the worst things that you can do during pregnancy is fall. That said, it isn’t the time to be doing any lift that will put you in a precarious position. Want to do overhead press? Stay seated.
- Be careful not to hit yourself with weights. Whether you are lifting a 5 lb. dumbbell or a 45 lb. bar, the last thing you want is a shot to the abdomen. Be very careful not to hit yourself with the weights.
- Talk to your doctor. Above all else, listen to your doctor. If she says ease up on the lifting, then you need to ease up. All the information you find on the internet is fine and dandy, but your doctor is your personal advisor–listen to her!
Have experience lifting during your pregnancy? Discuss your tips in the replies!