Strength Training & Pregnancy

Weight training strengthens and tones your muscles and helps you to build your stamina, which you’ll need during labor and delivery. One good way to do that is to perform a set number of exercises using free weights and resistance training machines such as ones you’ll find in weight rooms and athletic clubs.

  • Tips for the First Trimester
    As always, it is a good idea to go over your exercise program with your doctor or midwife first to make sure it’s okay for you to continue at your regular pace while you’re pregnant.Julie Tupler, registered nurse, certified personal trainer and co-author of Maternal Fitness, says you should use slow, controlled movements to lift weights to avoid injuring your joints that are loosened during pregnancy. Work with lighter weights than you normally do and to compensate for the lower weight, you can do more repetitions.

    Avoid certain postures such as the Valsalva maneuver, which is forcefully exhaling without actually releasing air, which causes lower abdominal pressure similar to that of a bowel movement, and walking lunges, which could increase your risk of injury to connective tissue in the pelvic area.

  • Tips for the Second and Third Trimesters
    Beginning in the second trimester, you should avoid lifting weights while standing. Sitting down will increase your blood volume. You should also avoid lying on a bench to lift weights, or any position which leaves your abdomen vulnerable to a falling weight.
Suggested Exercises
  • Military press
    Sit up straight on the edge of a sturdy chair, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, separated about hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell (weighing between one and ten pounds) in each hand with palms facing inward, lift above shoulder level and then back down.
  • Seated row
    Using a resistance band (an elastic strap specially designed for exercise), sit erect on the floor, legs extended in front of you and knees slightly bent. Wrap a resistance band around both your feet and hold one end in each hand. Keep your elbows bent close to your sides with palms facing each other. Pull the resistance toward your waist, using the middle back muscles, until your elbows are just behind you.
Strength Training & Pregnancy