Is it safe to workout while pregnant? In moderation, yes. As all women should know, exercise is highly recommended during pregnancy. This is a time period where your body is going through a lot of crazy changes, and honestly, it’s no fun feeling out of control. The extra weight will affect your balance, coordination, and center of gravity. Pregnant women also experience lower back pain (that telltale arch), but regular exercise also encourages good posture and back strength. Always remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine.
Safe amount of intensity:
If you are going to continue exercising during your pregnancy, you are going to have to do this with the mindset of maintaining your fitness, not improving it. This is not the time for 1 rep maxes, PRs, or Rx-ing WODs. This is due to the fact that the resting heart rate increases during pregnancy. An easy way to gauge intensity is the “talk test”. You should be able to maintain a conversation while working out. If you are too winded to talk, you are working out too hard.
Note that I said “continue exercising” not “start exercising”. If you have never done intense exercise before, now is not the time to start. Just don’t. Wait until after delivery.
Working out In Your First Trimester:
- Most movements are ok, but there are two things you should start thinking about in advance
- One: Make sure you do not overexert yourself and raise your resting heart rate too much. Stop and take water breaks during your workouts. Never hold your breath while concentrating on a lift. Breathing a lot is key.
- Two: Do sit ups, toes to bar, and knees to elbows now while you can. Do not do GHD sit ups. As the pregnancy progresses, the abdominal muscles weaken and begin to separate as the uterus grows. This makes ab exercises uncomfortable later down the road, so you should strengthen them now.
Working out In Your Second Trimester:
- The ligaments and joints are going to start loosening up in preparation for labor, so movements that involve catching weights in a full squat will put you at risk for injury. This website recommends only Olympic lifts starting in a hang, and breaking up the clean & the snatch into two movements, or just sticking to power cleans & snatches.
- Never squat below 90 degrees
- No exercises that require lying on your back- it could cut off the blood flow to the fetus. Hanging ab exercises are still ok.
- Scale all your lifts down 25-35%
- Do not do any inversion exercises.
Working out in Your Third Trimester:
- Your mobility is going to be most affected at this point (obviously). Use your own judgement in continuing to scale down workouts. If any exercise makes you feel uncomfortable, stop doing it.
- Now might be the time to switch over to swimming, walking, prenatal yoga, or some other gentler form of exercise.