As a personal trainer I see many different clients with many different conditions. One “condition” that many trainers, and trainees for that matter, overlook is being pregnant.
Now I know that this topic doesn’t currently apply to everyone reading this, however, if you have a sister, daughter, wife, girlfriend or any woman in your life that you care about, someday this information may be the difference between life and death. Really!
First and foremost, only women who have been previously and consistently exercising just prior to becoming pregnant should even consider working out once expecting. And even then, as always, they should still consult a doctor before returning to the gym. Lastly, they should obviously tell their trainer so he/she can make the necessary adjustments so that both the baby and mother can remain healthy and safe during the entire pregnancy.
Here are some guidelines that should be imposed no matter what the exercise regimen is:
First, drink a lot of fluids before, during and after exercising to prevent dehydration. As always, the muscles to be exercised should be adequately stretched (holding for 20-30 seconds each – but keeping the range of motion shorter than usual as joints begin to loosen as the pregnancy continues) and warmed-up prior to beginning and just after a training session.
The goal for the next nine months should focus on muscle strengthening. That means no more than 10 repetitions should be performed for each set. This type of weight training, which can be performed up to three times a week, will limit the risk of joint and ligament damage. Also, be sure to remember to breath while strength training. Don’t hold your breathe! In general, exhale on the exertion.
Avoid activities that require precise balance and coordination. So exercises on the Bosu Ball or one leg are out! As your pregnancy progresses, your coordination may be altered as a result of your weight increasing, shifting center of gravity, and softening and increased mobility of your joints and ligaments.
Since aerobic exercise causes the body’s temperature to rise, it is important to exercise but not to a point of increased body temperature. The constant movement of both arms and legs typical of most aerobic exercise programs provides a workout that can reach high levels of intensity relatively quickly. Therefore, swimming or cycling are highly recommended. Avoid rigorous bouncing. All aerobic activity, which can be performed up to five times a week, should be of the low to non-impact variety. Constantly monitoring your breathing and maintaining the ability to exercise and carry on a normal conversation is the intensity at which any activity should be performed.
When training abs do not bring your feet over your hips (i.e. bicycling in-air position). And don’t elevate past 45 degrees.
As one’s pregnancy progresses, the exercise level should decrease since the increased body weight will require a larger energy output and thus require more time to recuperate after workouts.
If the “patient” is someone who likes to train without the help of a QUALIFIED trainer, she should consider using an approved pregnancy exercise video that follows the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG ) guidelines to work out at home.
While programs of this nature are not geared towards losing weight, obviously, the benefits still abound. They include; improved posture, relieve back pain, strengthen muscles in preparation for labor and support for loosened joints,improve circulation, increase flexibility, maintain aerobic endurance, increase energy level and decrease muscle tension and promote relaxation as well as a positive self-image.