By Sarah Caracciolo, B.S.
DHAC Assistant Fitness Director
If the title of my blog didn’t give it away, let me officially announce that I am pregnant! I am just starting my second trimester and feel amazing! I credit this to exercise. Of course there are some “pleasantries” of pregnancy that cannot be helped with exercise (nausea being the biggest culprit) but for the most part it has been my saving grace!
Let’s state the obvious first….always consult with your obstetrician before starting an exercise program. If you have never exercised before, you will most likely have more limitations during your first trimester. For those who are consistent exercisers, you will most likely be able to continue on your program, but consulting with your physician first is always recommended.
In this particular blog I want to discuss weight lifting during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends using lighter than normal weights and increasing your repetitions. Using heavier weights can overload your joints which are already being loosened by pregnancy hormones preparing you for labor.
While weight lifting is generally considered safe and highly advised during pregnancy, it can be difficult to fit on certain pieces of equipment especially later on in your second and third trimesters. A great option is a group fitness class that offers plenty of variations for you. I personally don’t know what I’d do without my BODYPUMP classes. I teach twice a week and have been craving a third! The class is designed to be a full body workout that uses barbells and plates. It focuses on high repetitions and low to moderate weight. There are days when I am utterly exhausted from this pregnancy but I know that after I teach my BODYPUMP classes I will have MORE energy and feel a lot stronger. Of course listening to your own body is the best advice I could give. Sometimes I have just needed a break and lightened my weights on specific muscle groups or simply used bodyweight only. As you approach your second trimester, lying on your back should be avoided as you could inhibit blood flow. Simply creating an incline with your step is a great variation.
In general, exercising during your pregnancy on a regular basis will help to prevent and treat gestational diabetes, lift those low energy levels, and improve your posture and mood (many will benefit from this!). The most important benefit I am working towards is that exercise will train your body to better cope with the demand, pain, and endurance of labor!