Pregnancy perfection

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I’ve always said that a “perfect” pregnancy is a healthy pregnancy!  Whether you’re new to fitness or were working out before you became pregnant, maintaining an active lifestyle offers several benefits to the mother and to your future newborn.
“It’s all about maintenance, not progression!”

Keep in mind that the goal of exercising throughout pregnancy is to maintain your present level of fitness, not to improve it.  If you’re an avid fitness girl or a girl who wants the best for her unborn baby, read on for the facts surrounding proper cardio and weight training that’ll have you back to your “before baby body” in no time!

“Do not exceed 140 BPM (beats per minute*heart rate*)!”

Cardio:  As a new mother to be, the safe growth of your baby is your number one priority but its okay to continue with your current activities.  If you plan on taking part in an exercise routine for the first time, now’s not the time to make any hardcore resolutions!  We don’t want to add any additional stress to the body.  When doing cardio, do not exceed 140 BPM (beats per minute*heart rate*).  A good start to a program would be simply to walk, 20 to 30 minutes daily.  Walking is relatively safe for being accident free.  Be wary of activities that could result in a fall or require your balance and stability.  Activities like high intensity or hi impact group fitness classes should also be avoided although water aerobics is a great cardio alternative.  All cardio in addition, as long as you were actively participating previously, can be continued well into your last trimester. 

“Machines are the way to go now!”

Resistance Training:  I sound like a broken record from time to time when encouraging a good weight training routine but when it comes to pre-baby safety however, now’s not the time to start a new resistance training program.  Read on for the woman who actively knows her way around the workout floor!  Like cardio, resistance training will give you an increase in heart rate and body temperature, which shouldn’t exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so try increasing your rest periods between sets to maintain normal body temperature and pulse (below 140 beats).  Eliminate exercises where you have to lie flat on your back, such as the bench press, since this position can decrease blood flow to the uterus.  Exercises laying flat on your stomach should also be avoided.  Try substituting prone leg curls with standing or seated leg curls.  Be wary of exercises that challenge your balance and core such as lunges or ball exercises.  As much as I hate to admit it, machines are the way to go now!  Generally, by using free weights, we move they way our bodies want to move which indirectly targets our stabilizer and core muscles.  While pregnant, that’s a “no no.”  Machines only work the muscles specified so secondary stabilizer muscles (core muscles), such as the transverse abdomonis (TVA) and pelvic muscles, rarely become engaged thus keeping stress on our midsections down to a minimum.  If the “meat head” in you takes over and you find yourself wandering into the free weight section, remember to choose your exercises carefully!  Say goodbye to your abdominal routine as well, as you’ll want to avoid any exercises that may increase the risk of even mild abdominal trauma.  If you’re expecting, below are two acceptable exercises you can implement into your resistance training routine! 

Bodyweight Squat
Perform a squat with feet shoulder width for time.  3 – 5 Sets.  2 minute maximum.  *With bodyweight exercises, think “time under tension.”  Slow down to challenge legs while keeping your heart rate low.

Seated Lateral Raise          
While seated, raise arms out to the side or directly in front not to exceed a parallel plane to the floor. 12 – 16 repetition range with light to moderate weight.  3 - 5 sets.  *Primary movement to target both anterior and medial deltoids.