Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to give up your fitness routine if it’s important to you, but weightlifting during pregnancy does come with risks. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy lifting weights if it’s something you need to do though. It just means you’ll need to take some precautionary tips. Exercising during pregnancy actually has many benefits for you and the baby, so long as you do it smart, that is. Keep in mind these tips for weightlifting during pregnancy, and also enjoy regular walking, and slow yoga poses to help with movement and easy relaxation.
1. Stick with Machines
One simple tip for weightlifting during pregnancy is to stick with machines for the most part. Machines have stable support that you can sit on, stand on, or use for support if you need to. Also, women’s joints naturally become looser during pregancy, which can make it easy to move outside your natural free range. Weight machines help to combat that by being made to align with your body as you use them. Just stay away from machines that require you to lean up against a pad or part of the machine with your belly. Examples include the row machine, or certain abdominal machines. As long as your belly is clear from touching or pressing against anything, it should be okay.
2. Start Low
When you start lifting weights during pregnancy, it isn’t always safe to just jump right in where you left off pre-pregnancy. This means that just because you could lift 40 pounds before, you don't need to try to do so now. This helps prevent extra strain on the baby and you. Starting out lower is best, and most professionals recommend starting at half the amount of weights you used to lift, and moving up from there as you can, again, very slowly. It’s great that you’re lifting weights, but nothing is worth the risk of straining yourself during this important time.
3. Take It Slower
Weightlifting during pregnancy should be done slowly, just to be safe. You don’t need to barely creep as you go, but go at a milder pace than before. You’re not competing for a body building competition, so slow down a little! This makes things much gentler for you and the baby. Plus, studies show that slower lifting versus faster lifting helps prevent injuries, fractures, and even works your muscles better too.
4. Strengthen Your Back
Strengthening your back is a great idea during pregnancy. Your breasts naturally get heavier during this time, and it can make your shoulders slump. Do overhead light dumbell presses, machine arm extensions, seated cable rows, and lateral pulldowns. Holding the plank is also a great way to do this with your own body weight.
5. Arm Muscles
You’ll be lifting a baby, diaper bag, groceries, and baby bags before you know it, so it’s a great idea to start strengthening your muscles now. Do exercises that work your biceps and triceps while you’re doing your shoulder work too. This will strengthen all parts of your arms to make you're as strong as possible for all that baby work!
Squats might not seem easy during pregnancy, but the movements can actually help with labor. By using your muscles and contracting with your hips and legs, all those birth muscles are being used. Just be safe and do these slow. It’s best to have a trainer spot you, or use a machine to be safe. You want to keep your back straight, which might be difficult with your cute baby bump!
7. Core Strength
You should also be aware that you should be strengthening your core during this time. It will help prevent lower back pain and strain. Good exercises are supported ab machines that require you to lay down and roll up, or doing the plank. Pilates is also a gentle form of floor exercise that can help with this.
8. Ask a Pro
One tip for weightlifting during pregnancy is to ask a pro to help you your first few times. If you can afford a personal trainer, then great! Just three sessions should be great for getting you started. If not, check out one of my favorite websites where all the professionals give advice on weight training, which is Bodybuilding.com, which you can find here: bodybuilding.com.
9. Eat before and after
Lastly, never try to lift weights on an empty stomach. It just isn’t a good idea! You might be faint, and be more prone to passing out, injury or worse. Plus, you’re fueling two people here, not just one! Eat something filling and easy to digest to prevent getting sick as well. You should also have a snack afterwards to replenish you, your muscles, and the baby.
Lastly, before you start weightlifting during pregnancy, get the okay from your doctor. If you have certain medical complications, they might be able to advise you of extra precautionary tips, or might advise you not to lift weights at first. Remember, during pregnancy, your doctor knows best! If you’ve ever performed weightlifting during pregnancy, do you have any tips? Or, if you’re a new mom to be and have questions, feel free to ask those too!