In times past,
women were often advised to avoid strenuous activity and stay
off their feet while pregnant. But modern research has shown that
pregnant women are not as fragile as it was once believed-and
that exercise may actually be beneficial for both baby and mother-to-be.
Here are a few body building tips and guidelines for pregnant
new to body building, now isn't the time to start. Most of
these tips are for women who are already accustomed to a body
building routine. If your body isn't used to exercise, avoid starting
a strenuous workout regime. Instead, choose a mild, low-impact
aerobic activity such as walking or swimming-and set a slow pace;
don't push yourself. Your heart rate and body temperature must
not be allowed to reach elevated levels.
pulse low and avoid overheating. In general, pregnant women
are advised to keep their pulse below 140 beats per minute and
their body temperature below 100°F (38°C). When lifting
weights, this means you'll have to rest longer between repetitions;
some experts suggest a rest time of approximately two minutes.
It also means you'll need to drink plenty of water to stay cool
also monitor your heartbeat during exercise. If you don't have
an electronic device to do this for you, simply count how many
times your heart beats in ten seconds while exercising-and then
multiply by six. This will tell you how many times your heart
is beating per minute.
abdominal exercises. When you're pregnant, you should avoid
doing exercises that put strain on the abdominal muscles. This
includes any exercises that specifically target these muscle groups,
and it also includes exercises that target multiple muscle groups,
including the abs. Abdominal muscles are often used to balance
your body during squats and other freestanding exercises, and
these should be avoided while you're pregnant.
failure. Hormonal changes during pregnancy make it easier
for your muscles to tear. While pregnant, it's best to avoid exercising
to the point of muscular failure, or the point you are no longer
physically able to perform an exercise. Reduce the strain on your
muscles by performing fewer reps per set and fewer exercises per
body part than you're accustomed to. At the beginning of your
pregnancy, start with the weight you're used to-and reduce your
weights as your pregnancy progresses.
while lying flat on your back or stomach. These positions
can reduce blood flow to the uterus, which could be dangerous
for the baby. Stay away from flat bench presses, lying leg curls,
and other exercises that require you to lay on your back or stomach,
and replace them with sitting or standing exercises that target
the same muscle groups.
attention to form and reduce weight when needed. When you're
pregnant, your joints and ligaments begin to loosen in order to
prepare your body for birth. This puts you at greater risk for
joint trauma and soft muscle injuries. During pregnancy, it's
especially important to pay attention to form while performing
body building exercises-a mistake is more likely to lead to injury.
This is also why it's important to reduce the amount of reps and
possibly the weight you use to avoid putting too much strain on
your joints, and to use machines rather than free weights.
that require balance. A fall can be dangerous for both mother
and child. That's why it's so important to avoid doing exercises
that require balance when you're pregnant. Avoid lunges, squats,
and other standing exercises that may present risk of falling.
Instead, use machines that help you target the same muscle groups
from a sitting position.
back support. When working with free weights or machines,
look for a seat that supports your back. Avoid doing exercises
that target the lower back muscles, as well.
not free weights. Free weights require balance and draw on
multiple muscle groups, while machines isolate muscle groups and
lock you into position. Under normal circumstances, free weights
often provide a better overall workout than machines do. But when
you're pregnant, there are many reasons why machines are better
for you than free weights.
you by supporting you during exercise, so there is less risk of
losing your balance and falling. Machines isolate muscle groups,
so you can more easily avoid using your abdominals while using
machines than with free weights. Machines lock you into a safer
position, so you're less likely to strain your joints.
be some situations where a certain machine is less safe than a
certain free weight exercise, however-such as flat bench press
machines, which require you to lie on your back and may not have
a light enough weight option available. To get the same results
more safely, use light barbells in a sitting or inclined position.
to breathe. While body building, it's crucial to maintain
a steady, even pattern of breathing. This is true under all circumstances,
but it's especially important during pregnancy. When you don't
breathe, your baby doesn't breathe-and holding your breath could
hurt the baby. Avoid exercises that make you short of breath;
keep a slow, steady pace that allows you to breathe evenly.
your doctor. This is general body building advice and should
not be taken as medical advice targeted to you. Be sure to talk
to your doctor about your workout routine before starting, and
don't perform any exercises your doctor tells you to avoid.
can be a safe and healthy way to stay fit while you're pregnant.
Follow these tips and talk to your doctor before starting your
exercise regime, and you're likely to have a fit, healthy pregnancy.
Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body
Building Resource which provides articles on weight training,
nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.