Pregnancy workouts: Lifting
Next up in the pregnancy workout series is strength training!
This one is near and dear to my heart because as a soccer player my whole life, running was something that came super natural to me and was my exercise on the daily.
But what really helped me change my body after kids? WEIGHTS.
((And of course, diet. ))
Anyway, my first pregnancy I legit had allllll the time in the world so I was able to spend as much time as I wanted working out. That meant training on the ball, running, and continuing my weight sessions in the gym. I also swam as I spoke of in the pregnancy series #2.
After I had my first baby, I simply didn’t have enough time to fit in all of the cardio I wanted AND the weights.
And let’s be honest, I didn’t WANT to or have the energy. The cardio that I did do was a lot of walking & running with the stroller and I chose to prioritize my time away from my son with strength training. Weights are what got me where I wanted to be postpartum.
Fast forward to pregnancy two, and it was a lot harder to stay fit during pregnancy, because, hello, time is limited when you have kids lol. I managed to run until full term. and continued to lift until I hit the third trimester and then stopped. Why? I was so uncomfortable, it was the hottest August in over 100 years, and I was content with doing just cardio. I also think I stopped caring as much because I was so tired, and because I had “gotten my body back” once before, I knew I could do it again.
Well. In conclusion, I definitely feel like I got REALLY soft, gained 5 + more pounds than I did with my first, and my recovery was a lot harder. Like A LOT.
When I found out I was pregnant with my third (unexpectantly) I had literally almost gotten to where I wanted to be with my body post baby 2. My second had JUST stopped nursing 3 months earlier .. so it was definitely something I had to get my head around knowing I had 9+ months of pregnancy and another year of nursing ahead of me!!
I think when you find out you are pregnant you have goals in your head like “I’m gonna do this one different.. I’m going to eat super healthy and work out everyday and look good “ LOLZ. And then you’re waddling around and like yeah.. gimme that chocolate. Ha.
I think out of all three pregnancies just due to experience I was somewhat able to fulfill those goal this time. I was also determined to have a better “rebound” from baby 3 and lift as long as I could because I knew it would make a huge, huge difference.
Why is lifting so important?
Strength- carrying a baby during pregnancy and postpartum is no easy task.
Labor. Enough said.
Knowing you have at least 6 weeks of rest postpartum was enough to keep me motivated.
More muscle mass= more fat burned.
With that being said,I wanted to share tips on how I adjusted my strength training workouts to help you all!
The biggest battle for me with first trimester workouts is FATIGUE!!! I don’t really have an answer for dealing with fatigue other than the fact that working out is part of my life, my routine and its something I just do. So, even when I’m tired, I ((most days)) get the energy to get myself going. Best advice I can give is GET yourself to the gym, on that run/cardio machine, and if after 10 minutes you are still feeling like crap-call it a day. BUT TRY. I can’t tell you how many times I have said this to myself to just start my workout. And to be honest with you-I never have stopped after the 10 minutes because I have ALWAYS felt better after that 10 minutes and wanted to keep going. Workouts somehow give you energy!!
I never got sick during any of my three pregnancies so I don’t have any tips for working through morning sickness/nausea!! Sorry!
From a limitation standpoint, in some ways how your workouts are affected in the weight room will depend on whether or not this is your first pregnancy. I found that with my second and third some exercises I was limited with because I was already somewhat showing. Not to the public eye, but enough that I couldn’t do exercises that had anything to do with my stomach area ( ie. Reverse hyper)
I continued to do EVERYTHING as normal with the exception was that I did not do any max effort lower body lifts. So no heavy squats, dead lift, etc. I kept it to a 3 rep max during the first trimester. In addition I NEVER do any straight up abdominal work when pregnant. So no sit ups, planks, etc.
I was able to continue doing jumping and dynamic movements through 12/13 weeks.
This is where I really started to slow down. My main lower lifts moved to 4-5 reps (3 if I was feeling really good) and my box height for squats was raised.
Upper body wise I started doing everything on an incline towards the end of the second trimester and if I did do a flat bench, I brought my legs and feet up on the bench.
I found this trimester I definitely had more energy, but I felt more winded at the same time so I had to take more time in between reps.
Weight wise I didn’t have to adjust much for accessory work at this point.
This is where sh*t hits the fan. Haha. You’re big, uncomfortable and ready to throw in the towel. The key this trimester is listening to your body and STICK ING with it even if your workouts aren’t as frequent/aren’t very intense. You’ve come this far!! Keep at it! There were definitely days I waited 4-5 days in between workouts to recover, because I didn’t feel great, or because I felt so much pressure!
There were SO many adjustments I made. My reps for major lifts increased to 6-8 reps and I stopped squatting/benching with the bar at about 36 weeks and just did free weights with EVERYTHING.
My accessory work weights lowered substantially and at times I only did body weight, especially the last 2-3 weeks! Bands were also a huge part of what I did from a workout standpoint.
Tips for lifting throughout pregnancy
Mindset: remember your goal is to stay active, retain a little muscle, and get those endorphins 💪🏼
Slow. it. down & focus more on activating: I found that I really slowed my movement down the bigger I got. Even if the movement was supposed to be “explosive” I just did it at my own pace and focused more on ACTIVATING the muscle whether it was glutes, hams, triceps, etc.
Lower your expectations: Don’t worry about the number on the barbell or rack, or how explosive your movements are…
Take rest breaks !!! This was huge for me. I honestly had to really slow down in between reps and that’s OKAY.
Fuel properly: TONS of Water and good food is so important!
Adjust your weight: Enough said!
Listen to your body: I touch on this a little bit- if you need a few days off, take it! During my third trimester there was a period where I didn’t lift for almost a week! When I felt better, I got right back at it, no issues!
I’m slowly getting back into things now at 4 weeks postpartum and it feels SOOO good. I wanted to round up some fitness athleisure clothes that I am lusting after…cause is there anything better or more motivating than new fitness/workout clothes??? NOPE. :)
Check em out:
Hope y’all have a great day! xo