How Safe Is Weight Training During Pregnancy?

If you stay within limits and your healthcare provider has given you the green flag, weightlifting during pregnancy is safe.

Check out this badass mamma-to-be from Salt Lake City, Amy Updike1 who is not only a pediatric registered nurse but also an international Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness Bikini Professional who continues to lift weights like a pro, even when nearly nine months pregnant.

Image Credit: Fit Pregnancy/Fit Amy Suzanne
Image Credit: Fit Pregnancy/Fit Amy Suzanne

Infact, most professional healthcare advisors think that strength training is one of the best ways to reduce the muscle aches and pains. Weight training gives a leverage especially to newbies to gym, who just wants control their range of motion and wish to get their joints looser.

However, all healthcare providers would warn you to steer clear of any machine with a pad that would press against your bump like a seated

row machine or abdominal machines. Moreover, you might have to let go of overhead lift since it would increase the curve of your lower spine.

Having said that, here are some myths debunked regarding pregnancy and weightlifting:

Disclaimer: Your doctor’s permission for exercise is essential. Consult and be aware of what your body is trying to tell you. If it feels good, keep it up, if it doesn’t, stop immediately.

Myth: Lifting Weights Is Dangerous For You And Your Baby

Infact the opposite is true. Research says that prenatal exercises and fitter moms have shorter labor time, less chance of preterm labor based complications, and shorter hospital stays. Yayy!!

There’s another research2.  which shows that the baby’s heart resists other cardiovascular problems in life because they tend to have sturdier blood vessels.

Myth: You Aggravate Physical Pains With Lifting Weights And Increase The Risk Of Injury

True that your body is going to be unstable what with the hormonal changes occurring. There is an increased production of relaxin, and one thing that this hormone does

is make the soft tissues (like ligaments and tendons) more lax to accommodate the body to the growing baby. Weight training actually helps decrease aches and increase stability. Your optimal alignments are corrected and with a focus on the prenatal strength training, excessive arching of your back is also prevented. Sounds good enough to pick up those weights now.

Myth: Don’t Let Your Heartrate Rise Over 140bpm During Exercise

All good gyms would ask you to wear a heart rate monitor while you exercise. The concern for increased heart rate stems from the fact that the oxygen flow would be diverted to the muscles and the fetus would not receive enough. However, the 140bpm is old data, for recently, enough data backs up the fact that the heart rate can be pushed further. Most professional instructors would recommend using the Rate of Perceived Exertion and the “Talk Test” to guide you. Anytime that you start feeling challenged, its difficult to breathe, stop immediately.

You should keep in mind that during labor, your body and baby goes through stressful periods and this strength training

gives you an idea of the stress that you will face during labor. Weight lifting in some ways helps you prepare yourself for the main event.

Myth: Stop All Kinds Of Abs Training Because You’re Risking Injury To Abdominal Wall

Abdominal and core training is important during pregnancy mainly because of the changing posture and the added weight that exerts itself on your body. However, abdominal separation is a real thing that has happened to many pregnant women. But the good news is that abdominal separation is prevented through core training and sets you up towards faster recovery postpartum. There are some exercises that you shouldn’t do, and some you can do, ask your gym instructor to guide you.

Myth: Prenatal Yoga And Walking Is The Best Prescription For Pregnancy-Exercise

While walking and prenatal yoga come with their own benefits, weight training is completely different. You can’t beat the benefits of strength training with yoga. What weight training gives you is the strength to prepare yourself to carry around the extra weight and bear the intense stress of labor and delivery.

As your body progresses

through pregnancy, it undergoes a multitude of changes. This is why your strength training should align to the new changes and accommodate your challenges and well-being when being planned. If you have been doing weight training even before you were pregnant, there are just some precautions that you might have to oversee. Once you are done with childbirth, weight training would help you recover faster and turn you into a fitter mom. So, if it’s already your thing, keep doing it (with doctor’s permission) and if you are new, better start now than never.