Pregnancy can be a very bumpy ride. It’s natural that some women want to remain in shape and maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. One of the best ways to do it? Weights. Lifting weights when pregnant might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but stick with us. Being healthy is always important, after all. As you move through the trimesters and the due date is getting closer, however, you’ll want to be more cautious when exercising. Even more so if lifting weights.
The good news? You can still use some weights when pregnant. Before you do, consult a qualified personal trainer and your GP before continuing with your exercise routine. Only they will be able to advise you on a safe workout plan.
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Benefits of Using Weights when Pregnant
Wondering why you’d want to? Outside of the standard benefits of weight training, continuing exercising whilst pregnant will help to keep you and the baby at a healthy weight. On top of that, using weights can help keep your circulatory system, muscle mass and your stamina in good shape too.
Another benefit of using weights or other forms of exercise during pregnancy is that it helps keep you relaxed and normalised during pregnancy and continuation with your day-to-day routine. It might even help you sleep better as you progress through pregnancy!
Also, exercising will minimize the aches and pains women generally experience during pregnancy.
Using Weights When Pregnant
The weight of the dumbbell is down to your own ability and strength, but you should avoid lifting heavy weights, stick to using light-moderate weights, and do more repetitions. This is to avoid injuries and unwanted strain on your body.
Colette Ferguson, a personal trainer specialising in Ante/Post Natal, recommends the following exercises during pregnancy:
Throughout your first trimester, you should aim to complete 1-2 sets of 15-20 repetitions, decreasing to 10-15 reps in your 2 nd trimester and 8-10 reps in your third.
Suggested exercises that you can do with dumbbells include:
- Shoulder shrugs
- Lateral raises
- Bicep curls
- Triceps kickback
- Single arm row
- Shoulder press – avoid lifting overhead after 12 weeks
Good posture and technique are paramount when exercising during pregnancy. You should keep the lower part of your back (Lumbar) and cervical spine neutral and aligned at all times.
When using dumbbells and any other free weights, be extra careful with your technique to avoid hitting your stomach.
Your body will produce hormones called ‘Relaxin’ and ‘Progesterone’, which softens the ligaments to help with the widening of the pelvis. Although Relaxin is produced to widen the pelvis, all other joints in the body are affected.
Furthermore, your body will also have increased Lordosis production as the baby and breasts grow, which can strain ligament muscles in the spine and pelvis and affect the centre of gravity. Therefore, you should avoid lifting heavier weights when pregnant to avoid injury.
Remember, if you are decreasing the weights, it is only temporary, but please consult a professional.
Professional parenting sites have advice on what exercises you should avoid during pregnancy (namely after the first 12 weeks) and what you can continue with.
An important point made by both sites is to avoid lifting weights whilst lying flat on your back. If you wanted to continue working on your upper body, use a weight bench on an incline after the first 12 weeks, then incline further from 20 weeks.
The most important tip that anyone can give you about using weights when pregnant is to listen to your body. If you feel like you’re putting too much strain on your body or begin feeling tired and weak, stop and rest up. Remember, you’re working towards a different goal over a 9-month period, and it isn’t the time to test your body. You can set yourself a new fitness goal post-pregnancy.
A good indicator to ensure you’re not overworking your body is through speech. You should stop if you’re struggling to talk because you’re out of breath. And remember, drink plenty of water whilst exercising to keep you hydrated and prevent feelings of fatigue.
As mentioned, consult a professional before beginning your pregnancy workout and listen to your body.
Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.
If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.