Not everyone is a “Fertile Myrtle”… the endearing term we OB-GYNs often give to those women who get pregnant in…
There is a ton of misleading information available about strength training during pregnancy, with #3 being the most pervasive. Are you falling prey to any of these 5 myths?
Note from GGS: Remember to verify with your healthcare professionals that you have no contraindications for exercise. All the following guidelines are based on the assumption you have no contraindications for exercise.
There is no reason to stop exercising, or strength training, if you’re feeling OK and have adequate energy as you reach the end of your pregnancy. My coaching clients routinely continue working out until the end of their pregnancies. Personally, I kept strength training three days per week until the end of my pregnancy, which was 42 weeks long!
In fact, strength training may be the most comfortable form of exercise you do as you get closer to the end. It’s low impact and can be modified to meet any fitness level or to address aches and pains. Keeping your strength up and your mobility feeling fluid will also help you along through labor and into your postpartum recovery.
Learn more about strength training in your third trimester here.
This might be one of the most pervasive myths of exercising in pregnancy, this advice to stop doing any exercises or stretching on your back once you reach the second trimester.
I do not keep hard and fast rules about this for my clients, and did not with myself either. Research is now supporting the understanding that you’re likely just fine and doing no harm to baby by doing some exercises on your back if you feel comfortable there.
This is the most important point: as long as you feel comfortable on your back. If you do not feel lightheaded, nauseous, and your breathing is not impaired during or after the bout of exercise or stretching, you should be able to continue.
You might not feel comfortable doing any heavy lifts while lying on your back (for example, Dumbbell Floor Chest Press) later in pregnancy, or any activities that keep you on your back for extended periods of time (more than 1-2 minutes, for example). You can modify those accordingly.
If you’re interested in reading current research on this topic you can view a full study here.
This is the pregnancy exercise advice that is the most misleading, in my opinion! Here’s where it goes wrong:
Can you see how these scenarios could all need to change throughout pregnancy? It’s not so much a matter or fitness or strength in many of these scenarios, you may be physically capable of getting through these activities. However, it’s more so about protecting your body, particularly your core and pelvic floor, to ensure you’re not causing undue damage that could lead to a more challenging postpartum recovery.
I always encourage my clients to ask themselves: “Could I do this?”, and follow that up with, “Should I do this?”
You can squat and deadlift in pregnancy!
It’s likely that you will naturally reduce the weight you’re lifting because it will become uncomfortable and may feel less strong for you.
That being said, even if you are an experienced lifter, I would not suggest doing “heavy” deadlifts and/or “heavy” squats as you get into the third trimester, or simply when you begin to notice your belly is feeling less supported and perhaps bulging out during these exercises. The goal is to minimize the severity of diastasis recti and to not induce further pressure on the pelvic floor.
Remember: would you be strong enough to keep squatting and deadlifting with substantial weights? Likely! Should you? Maybe not!
Your abdominal muscles don’t just “stop working” if you wear something supportive for a 30-45 minute workout a few times per week. Wearing a compression garment, a support for the belly, and/or a belt around the pelvis could be an effective strategy—especially if it means you can keep active longer through your pregnancy.
Tip: I started wearing a tight tank top later on in the day and during workouts through later second trimester and until the end of my pregnancy. This was enough to make my belly feel supported.)
And that’s another five myths, busted! (Make sure you check out the first 5 pregnancy myths we busted.)
Here’s to strong and safe pregnancy strength training workouts!
There are so many myths about exercising during and after pregnancy, it can be hard to know if you’re doing the “right” thing. Our education materials are carefully vetted by OB/GYNs, PhDs, Registered Dietitians, Women’s Health Physiotherapists, and Pre and Postnatal Exercise Experts, and we have put together this FREE handbook where you’ll learn: