June 21, 2016 | John Paul Catanzaro
Maternal exercise during pregnancy can offer many benefits: it can improve fitness, control weight gain and glucose levels, improve energy and mood, ease labor, improve postpartum recovery, and improve infant health… yet only about 15% of pregnant women actually do it (Blaize et al., 2015).
When it comes to exercise, pregnant women should avoid prone positions for obvious reasons. Supine positions should also be avoided as they may pose a risk to the fetus during the 2nd and 3rd trimester. Instead, favor standing, kneeling, or seated positions.
Machine training comes in handy during this period. We often condemn machines because they’re not “functional,” but there are certain cases where they’re quite useful and pregnancy happens to be one of those cases. Did you know that the seated leg curl was developed for this very reason?
Here’s a two-day whole body routine that can be used during pregnancy:
A1. Wide-Stance Back Squat: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 60s
A2. Seated One-Arm Cable Row: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 60s
B1. Dumbbell Step-Up: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 60s
B2. Machine Chest Press: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 60s
C1. Standing Low-Pulley Reverse Curl: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 45s
C2. Standing One-Arm Reverse-Grip Pressdown: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 45s
D1. Standing Dumbbell Side Bend: 2 x 12-15 @ 2010, 30s
D2. Seated Calf Raise: 2 x 12-15 @ 2010, 30s
A1. High-Handle Hex-Bar Deadlift: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 60s
A2. Standing One-Arm Dumbbell Press: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 60s
B1. Low-Pulley Split Squat: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 60s
B2. Half-Kneeling One-Arm Cable Pulldown: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 60s
C1. Seated Zottman Curl: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 45s
C2. Seated One-Arm French Press: 3 x 10-12 @ 3010, 45s
D1. Standing Semi-Stiff-Arm Cable Pulldown: 2 x 12-15 @ 2010, 30s
D2. Standing Calf Raise: 2 x 12-15 @ 2010, 30s
Of course, there’ll be days when energy levels are low and exercise may be quite a struggle. Use the neck rule to determine whether you should train or not, and feel free to reduce the number of sets that you perform.
Don’t push the end ranges too far as joint laxity increases during pregnancy, and don’t go too heavy. Use moderate rules: that is, use moderately-heavy weights, for a moderate number of sets and reps, at a moderate speed of execution, with moderate rest intervals, and done at a moderate frequency.
The most important rule you should follow when it comes to strength training during pregnancy is this: Listen to your body! It’s your best guide and it will tell you what you should and should not do.