Is It Ok to Do Weight Training While Pregnant?

Weight training is safe and among the best methods to prevent pains and aches. The changes that occur with pregnancy can lead to multiple problems for the pregnant female. The majority of the problems are due to weak muscles resulting from inactivity along with the stress placed on the body due to weight gain. Exercises, especially weight training can strengthen supporting muscles, thereby reducing the pain in back and overall joint and muscle weakness resulting from pregnancy.

Weight Training while Pregnant- Is It Safe?

Yes, it is safe to do weight training during pregnancy if you do it within limits and your physician gives you permission to do so. It is also important that weight training should already have been a part of your exercise regimen before you are pregnant. It is an excellent way to remain fit while you are pregnant and it is beneficial for post delivery recovery. However, in case you have not lifted weights before in your life, you should not start it during pregnancy.

You may require utilizing lighter weights than before. If done carefully, regular weight training is a safe method to improve your posture, strengthen and tone up your muscles. It may also help you to deal with the increasing demands of labor.

If you suffer from hypertension, you should discuss with your physician that you want to continue doing weight training. Your physician is the best person who knows the cause of your hypertension and can recommend whether it is safe to do weight training while pregnant for you.

What Are the Benefits of Weight Training During Pregnancy?

There are many benefits of doing exercise during pregnancy. Some of these include:

  • Increased levels of energy
  • Increased flexibility
  • Enhanced recovery after delivery
  • Less problems experienced at labor
  • Reduced pain in back and reduced severity of headaches
  • Improved posture and body figure
  • Increased capacity to do aerobic activities
  • Feelings of happiness and wellbeing
  • Having a positive image of self
  • Better blood circulation to extremities
  • Avoidance of constipation related to pregnancy
  • Greater coordination and strength of muscles, which aids in adjusting to increased weight of the body and balance changes during pregnancy

What Are the Precautions to Take?

You should do a basic program of exercises, which focus on groups of major muscles. You may want to enroll with a personal trainer experienced in working with pregnant women. The various precautions that you should take during weight training while pregnant are:

  • Consult with your physician: Discuss your exercise program with your physician or midwife to make sure that it is fine to continue exercising at your current level and pace during pregnancy.
  • Do more repetitions with lighter weights: During pregnancy your joints get loose by increased levels of relaxin hormone. To prevent overloading of already loosened joints do more repetitions with lighter weights. For instance, if you perform leg presses for 8-12 repetitions with 30 pounds usually, try doing 15-20 repetitions with 15 pounds. Similarly, if you perform chest press for 8-12 repetitions with 15 pounds usually, try doing 15-20 repetitions with 8 pounds.
  • Don’t perform the Valsalva maneuver: In Valsalva maneuver you have to forcefully exhale air without releasing air actually. This may result in rapid increase in pressure in the abdomen and blood pressure and may also reduce flow of oxygen to the fetus.
  • Don’t do walking lunges: Walking lunges may increase your risk of causing injury to the connective tissues situated in the pelvic region.
  • Be careful with the weights: It is very important to be careful while working with free weights so as to avoid these weights from hitting your belly. You can instead use resistance bands, which provide varying amount of resistance and different ways to perform weight training while pregnant with nil risk of injury to your abdomen.
  • Don’t perform lifting while lying flat on back or standing: After you have passed your first trimester, lying flat on back can create pressure on the vena cava, which is a major vein, thereby, reducing flow of blood to the uterus and your brain, making you feel dizzy and lightheaded. Standing up for too long can pull the blood in your legs. This can also cause dizziness or lightheadedness or result in varicose veins. You can do slight modification to the position of lying flat by tilting the bench to form an incline. You can also stay seated while lifting weights.
  • Listen to the signals of your body: It is most important to pay attention to the physical signals of your body. If you feel excessive fatigue or muscle strain, modify your moves or reduce your workout frequency. It is not the right time to push yourself during pregnancy.

Tips to Take While Doing Weight Training During Pregnancy

Apart from the various precautions mentioned above, following are some tips that you should take while exercising during pregnancy:

  • Avoid holding your breath; instead breathe throughout continually. In general you should exhale during exertion.
  • Avoid any position that involves pushing or lifting weights forcefully as these positions may increase pressure in the belly and chest and your blood pressure may be affected.
  • Tighten and squeeze the muscles of pelvic floor before lifting weight. Pressure is put on the muscles of your pelvic floor leading to leakage of small quantities of urine. You can prevent this by tightening the pelvic floor as you perform weight training while pregnant.
  • Drink large amounts of fluids, particularly water before, during and after weight training to avoid dehydration.
  • You should do appropriate muscle stretching exercises before and during exercise.
  • To avoid sugar levels from becoming too low, eat around 2 servings of complex carbohydrate foods such as potato or rice between 1 and 1-1/2 hour before doing exercise.
  • Avoid activities in which maintenance of precise balance and coordination is required. Weight gain, increased mobility and softening of ligaments and joints and shifting of center of gravity may alter your muscle coordination ability.
  • If you start developing varicose veins, decrease your weights and start wearing support stockings beneath your gym trousers or leggings. 
 
 
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