Can I train while pregnant?

9 tips on training while pregnant

By Hannes Loubser on March 16, 2017

Here in Dubai, mums often ask me:  Can I train while pregnant?

We have a few soon-to-be-mums training with us in the Dubai Marina, and its super special for team Iconic to have the privilege of being part of this journey.

Pregnancy and training is a subject very close to my heart as the memories are everlasting. Seeing client’s young ones running around and knowing that we were part of the new mom’s journey and assisting her in some of the most emotional times of her life is very rewarding.

‘Hannes we are planning to have a baby, is it safe to train’, or ‘but I’ve been doing so well with my training, and now everything needs to change’, and also ‘but I’m in the best shape of my life I don’t’ want to gain unwanted weight’. I get these questions often, so here are a few thoughts to motivate you to keep going or to get started, it’s in your and your baby’s best interest.

  1. No big changes…yet – the first tri-mester things can go on as normal. Significant changes will come after the 2nd tri-mester, for now keep doing what you are doing. Some activities like high impact running or jumps will be reduced, but hardly any activity will be eliminated immediately. The fitter you are before pregnancy, the less you have to change at this stage. Stick only to what you are used to do.
  1. We don’t make Olympic athletes of pregnant ladies – this is not the time to push you to your absolute limit. But you can train often, effectively and with propose. Your training regimen needs to be based on your abilities prior to pregnancy and current fitness levels. This is not the time to train to exhaustion.
  1. You aren’t useless or extremely fragile – Start off at 3 times a week training, this will mainly be based on your exercise regimen and fitness levels before your pregnancy. When one combines mobility and light training sessions along with strength training sessions, one can train just about every day.

I know a mother of a lovely new baby girl who still managed to do hand stand walks a few weeks before her delivery date. I won’t recommend this to every soon-to-be-mom but it just goes to show what you are capable of.

Another mom managed to do CrossFit throughout her whole pregnancy, she was criticized daily and was told that she didn’t deserve to be a mom, but she kept training as she knew her own body and knew she was feeling just fine.Today both mom and baby are very healthy, and no! the bay wasn’t born with a sixpack 🙂

Once again I won’t recommend this to everyone, but it supports the fact that if you are pregnant it doesn’t render you useless.

  1. Be yourself – daily activities and household chores are essential. Continue to move round the house, clean, cook, sit down, bend, and stand up, again, and again. You want to remain as functional as possible. Go shopping, spend time in the malls and get a good walk in. This is your ideal opportunity to convince your husband that it is essential to your health to do lengthy shopping sprees.
  1. Every day is different – you will wake up feeling completely different than yesterday. Some days you will have enough energy to train, other days not so much. A good trainer will keep adapting to your program to get the most out of you based on what you can do on that specific day. Some resistance days may turn into light cardio or balance days. The main idea is that you keep moving.
  1. Muscle mom – Own body weight as well as weighted exercises are sufficient. Don’t be afraid of using external weights like dumbbells, kettle bells, and resistance bands. External weight will feed the bone density and muscle strength. This can improve posture and recovery and also improve sleep.
  1. Support and balance – The TRX is a favorite of mine as it provides endless ways to increase and decrease the intensity. It also provides support for the soon-to-be-mommy as your balance changes and sense of coordination changes as the pregnancy progresses. The TRX also provides the opportunity to focus on squats which is arguably the single best exercise to do while you are expecting and needs to be done as often as possible.
  1. Breathe – Pilates is also an excellent choice but it needs to be slightly adjusted depending on the stage of pregnancy it will assist breathing and regulate blood pressure and really target all those deeper laying muscles that are stressed during pregnancy, during delivery and will help speed up the recovery process.
  1. Safety first

– Avoid excessive balancing and agility training that require you to change direction quickly

– Eliminate exercises in a supine position 4 months into pregnancy.

– Ensure you inhale and exhale with all modes of training, keeping the breath in during difficult movements is not advisable.

– Excessive heavy weights is a risk, I always advise my soon-to-be-moms that they can do 15 reps of an exercise with a perfect posture and controlled movement then the weight is fine. If you can’t reach 15 reps, you need a lighter weight.

Pregnant? Start moving. Exercise will make this period of your life way way way easier.

Coach Hannes

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