Weight Training During Pregnancy – Do’s and Dont’s

Weight training can be extremely beneficial during pregnancy. But you will need to check with your doctor if it is advisable for you. Pregnancy complications and other factors like a history of miscarriages should be considered while deciding if weight training is right for you.

Weight training for the upper body helps improve the muscle tone. However, avoid exercises that place strain on your lower back, and lifting the weights above head height. If you’re used to lifting weights, concentrate on good technique, reducing both the weight and reps, but increase the sets, making sure you avoid over exertion. If you have no experience with weights you must seek guidance from a qualified professional. And always, consult your doctor before you start on your exercise regime.

Precautions While Training

During pregnancy, your heart rate, blood volume and respiratory rate increase. This enables a greater flow of nutrients and oxygen to be supplied to the developing fetus. This in turn reduces the amount of oxygen and blood flow for the mom to be to use during the initial phase of exercise, and can cause dizziness. Therefore, any exercise should have a gradual increase in effort.

As blood is transferred to working muscles while exercising, any over exertion will transfer the nutrients carried within the blood away from the developing foetus. So remember to know your limits, and don’t get carried away with your workout, especially if you train regularly and have a competitive streak.

Weight Training Exercises

The following exercises can be performed 3 to 4 times per week throughout your pregnancy as part of your regular strength-training program.

Lunge Combo

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a 3-5 pound weight in each hand, palms facing in. Keep your abs tight and shoulders square. Step forward into a lunge, back heel lifted. Keep your front knee in line with your front ankle. With your elbows to your sides, contract your biceps and curl weights to your shoulders. Inhale and lower your arms, then repeat the curl, rotating weights so palms face each other. Lower weights to return to starting position. Do 8-10 reps, switch legs and repeat. This exercise strengthens quadriceps, buttocks, hamstrings, calves and biceps.

Squat and Extension

Place your hands on the back of a chair and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your abdominals. Inhale, then exhale, bending your knees and lowering into a quarter-squat; keep your knees behind your toes. Inhale and stand. Exhale, extend your left leg to the rear and squeeze your buttocks, keeping both legs slightly bent. Return to starting position and repeat, alternating legs. Do 8-10 reps per leg, progressing to 16. This strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks.

Thigh Lift and Press

Stand with your right side to the back of a chair and place your right hand on it for balance. Hold a 3-5 pound weight in your left hand at shoulder height, arm bent. Stand on your right leg and extend your left leg out to the side, toes on the floor. Keep your shoulders and hips squared and abs tight, then inhale. Exhale while pressing your left arm overhead and lifting your left leg off the floor. Return to starting position.

Do 8-10 reps, then switch sides. Progress to 15 reps. This strengthens shoulders, upper back, buttocks and upper hips.

Safety Tips

Begin any weight-training exercise only under the guidance of a well-trained instructor or physiotherapist. Take note of your medical conditions before you begin. Here are a few tips for exercising safely:

  • Maintain good posture. Periodically check a full-length mirror to make sure your head, shoulders, hips and ankles are in line with each other
  • To maintain proper balance and form, don’t lift weights that are too heavy
  • Don’t hold your breath. Inhale on the preparatory phase of an exercise and exhale on the exertion

Many health clubs now offer their members pre/ post Natal classes. Enrolling in one can be a good to learn or correct exercise techniques. Apart from the guidance of a qualified fitness instructor, you get to meet new moms to be.

 

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