What is the right way? What is safe? Can I really get back in shape post-pregnancy? You sure can!
In fact you can get in even better shape than before. How do I know? I know because it is exactly what our mums experience at Rejuvinate. The excitement of a baby on the way often brings with it apprehension towards exercise.
In pre-pregnancy generally the goal may be to become leaner, stronger and to increase fitness. But becoming pregnant should see these goals change slightly to maintain strength and fitness while gaining a healthy amount of weight.There are lots of benefits to be gained by working out before, during and after pregnancy, such as better strength, endurance, mobility, weight gain control and improved circulation — to list just a few of the many.
A progressive exercise program put in place before pregnancy occurs and then tailored to suit the body as it goes through the stages of pregnancy will see a quicker return to pre-pregnancy condition.
All programs should be resistance training focused. As a woman’s body progresses through the stages of pregnancy, she loses some of the ability to do certain things that could be done optimally pre-pregnancy.
The inability to regulate core temperature as effectively, increases in heart rate, the hormone relaxin and its effects are some of these factors which will determine a woman’s exercise regime and capabilities during pregnancy.
The above is the reason why we should avoid certain types of exercise and movements during and for a period post-pregnancy. High-intensity cardio, plyometric and circuit training are all things to avoid during pregnancy and also for a time post-pregnancy.
The risk/reward factors aren’t worth the gambling for you or your little one.Heart rate should be monitored during exercise, as generally it will already be elevated and will rise quite quickly once exercise starts.
Exercise should be completed in a cool environment and lots of water consumed before, during and after to help with temperature regulation. Loose and comfortable clothing will help.During exercise the body’s reactions should be monitored and temperature kept below 38°C, while also controlling breathing and heart rate levels so as not to cause any undesired side-effects.
Exercise should be ceased if side-effects such as abnormal shortness of breath, dizziness, calf pain, chest pain or headache occur, to name a few. During pregnancy posture changes start to occur and along with this we start to see some muscle weakness in a number of areas.
A resistance program will help to target and minimise the majority of these weaknesses, but exercise must be tailored by an experienced professional as the pregnancy progresses. Supine exercises during the first trimester may be okay but will be some of the first that will need to be changed to a more upright position during the remaining trimesters.
Exercises that require a neutral spine and good body alignment should be a focus through the program. A strong focus on free weight exercise is much more beneficial than exercising with machines, as it allows you to move more freely with correct posture. Being pregnant doesn’t mean a woman can’t use weights during exercises; it just means she must listen to her body.
A challenging load can still be lifted on each exercise. The key is not to try to progressively overload to get stronger, but rather to maintain condition in order to endure labour and make a quicker transition back to the pre-pregnancy state.
A strong focus should be on activating and focusing on the correct muscles during each exercise rather than just simply lifting the weights.With the right type of training coming into pregnancy, you can safely work out and reap the benefits all the way through until the time your newborn arrives, and afterwards.
Remember also, there might be times during pregnancy that all types of exercise are non-beneficial so always keep your treating doctor in the loop on what you are planning to do.
’Til next time,
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