Lifting Weights while Pregnant
If you’ve never lifted weights before, pregnancy isn’t the time to start an unsupervised strength program. But if you know what you’re doing in the weight room or you’re experienced using dumbbells at home, you have no reason to quit your routine. And as long as you make the appropriate modifications, there are plenty of great reasons to stick with it.
Be sure to get your doctor’s permission before embarking on a prenatal exercise or strength-training program. Some high-risk conditions do rule out exercise during pregnancy.
Lifting weights during pregnancy not only keeps you looking terrific but helps cut down on general aches and pains and may even counteract some of the shoulder and back pain that can be caused by enlarged breasts and a growing uterus. Everyday activities won’t take as great a toll, and when the big day comes, you’ll have more strength to pick up your new bundle of joy (not to mention the diaper bag, stroller, car seat, bottles, and toys that you’ll be lugging around).
You do need to adapt your weight-training program to your ever-changing body. You may prefer machines to free weights, because they offer more support and require less balance. Of course, some machines won’t fit you anymore. When you’re seven months pregnant, you can’t exactly lie on your stomach and do hamstring curls. Ask a trainer to show you more-practical alternatives to your regular routine. Many gyms have standing or seated hamstring machines.
Give special attention to the muscles that are bearing the brunt of your temporary burden, such as those in your knees, ankles, and lower back. But if any exercise starts to feel uncomfortable, stop doing it. Any time that you feel dizziness, nausea, or a pulling in your abdomen, hips, pelvis, or elsewhere, choose a different exercise.
When you’re pregnant, your goals in the weight room should change. Follow these guidelines:
Don’t focus on sculpting your muscles or setting a personal best in the bench press. Instead, aim to maintain your strength and enjoy the movement.
Your last few repetitions of each set should be somewhat challenging, but they shouldn’t require all-out oomph.
Expect to reduce the amount of weight you lift toward the end of your pregnancy, when you may have less energy.
Breathe steadily and pay close attention to your form. Don’t grip the handles too hard — gripping too hard raises your blood pressure, which shoots up anyway when you exercise.