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Weight Training Tips for Pregnant Women

Updated on November 15, 2010
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Whitney is a mom trying to evoke a healthy, happy life for herself and her family.

Exercising During Pregnancy

Most people wouldn't think that exercising and weight training while pregnant was a good idea. Training, as it is, is a lot of stress on the body, not to mention while pregnant. Well, it's perfectly safe and quite beneficial to weight train during a pregnancy. You just want to keep training sessions to 20 to 30 minutes no more than 3 times a week.

Benefits of Weight Training while Pregnant

  • Speedier recovery after childbirth
  • Increased sense self esteem while pregnant
  • Reduce excess weight gain
  • More rapid weight loss after delivery
  • Less leg cramps
  • Larger placenta to provide an increased nutrient base for the baby
  • Decrease the risk of excessive weight gain caused by an increase of fat storage
  • Stronger lower back which reduces the risk of lower back pains while pregnant
  • Boost in energy levels
  • Decrease the likelihood of varicose veins
  • Reduced chances of having a Caesarean birth
  • Higher chances of going into labor either a few days earlier or on time
  • Prepare the body for the stresses of labor and delivery
  • Improve mood and reduces stress
  • Reduces sleep problems and restlessness
  • Increases muscle strength, which conditions the muscles for childbirth and motherhood

Weight Training during Pregnancy

If you're a regular exerciser and regularly work out to keep your body in shape and fit, you don't have to stop just because you're pregnant. In all reality, it will benefit your to continue your workouts, but you'll need to reduce them to no more than 3 times a week for about 20 to 30 minutes. You don't want to overwork your body while pregnant, but you don't want to become a lazy, slob either.

When you find out that you're pregnant, you want to consult your obstetrician about your exercise routine. Not many doctors may be familiar with weight training during a pregnancy, but you can still get the basic warnings and potential complications. You want to make sure that you know the numbers for heart rate, blood pressure, and signs of fetal complications.

Start small so that you don't over-exert yourself. Even if you exercise and weight train regularly, it's not the most ideal situation to push yourself during a pregnancy, especially within the first trimester.

It's better to sit while weight training during pregnancy to prevent peripheral pooling of blood and muscle strain.
It's better to sit while weight training during pregnancy to prevent peripheral pooling of blood and muscle strain.

Before your exercise, it is very important that you warm up your body. You want your joints and muscles ready for what's about to happen. Start your exercise with light to moderate weights and high repetitions, as this will help tone your muscles and build your stamina up for the remainder of the session and for future workouts.

You should consider training with the machine weights, and performing all exercises in a sitting position. By using the machine weights and sitting while weight training, you can prevent joint injuries. The machines are also good because the abdominal and pelvic muscles are not activated during the workout, which means there won't be any extra stress on the areas.

Other tips to consider while weight training during a pregnancy are dietary. You want to increase your daily calories by about 400 to 500 calories a day. Also, make sure that you take a daily multivitamin and a whey protein shake to help with your calorie consumption. And, of course drink plenty of water while exercising.

Cautions

While pregnant is it very important that you do not push your limits. Your body is already under a lot of stress, so be very careful about pushing your self and over-exerting your body.

When weight training, you want to wear loose clothing. Tight clothes will potentially overheat your body. Wear jogging pants instead of spandex and t-shirts instead of tight shirts.

While weight training during a pregnancy, you want to stop your session and training, if you experience any of the following complications. You should also immediately call your doctor.

  • Abnormal calf pain or swelling (not caused by exercises)
  • Amniotic fluid leakage
  • Breathlessness before exertion
  • Chest pain
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Preterm labor
  • Vaginal bleeding

Exercise and Activities to Avoid while Pregnant

  • Kickboxing
  • Ice hockey
  • Abdominal exercises
  • Hamstring exercises
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Horseback riding
  • Soccer
  • Scuba diving (increased risk of decompression sickness)
  • Any exercises that involve laying down
  • Any exercises that involve pressing against the stomach
  • Any exercise or activity that involves a high risk of falling
  • Any exercise that can cause loss of balance

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