Resistance Training, Postpartum

Resistance Training During Pregnancy

By Joe Talarico on Sep 21, 2021 9:00:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time


Resistance training during pregnancy can seem risky, or intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. It just takes proper programming, and listening to your body. If you are already working out regularly, then you probably have the routine of going and now it is just a matter of tapering back the intensity. If you are new to lifting, then it is a whole new realm you are incorporating into your life but well worth it.

Start Early!

It is better to start before you are pregnant rather than waiting till you are already well underway. Your body no doubt is going through hormonal and postural changes as each semester arrives. Starting early allows you to address concerns, or underlying injuries so that you aren’t adding even more stress to your body midway through. Focus on functional movement patterns before heading into the heavier stuff.

Compound Exercises

Focusing on compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, chest press, overhead press and rows will hit all your muscle groups and set a really great foundation throughout your term. They will also leave you feeling stronger and overall better throughout your day to day life.

1st Trimester

The goal here isn’t to keep lifting as heavy as you were, or to ramp up to heavier work. We are purely focused on technique, posture and core work. Pregnancy is already providing an added stress to the body so we want to be very mindful of how your energy is day to day.

Shoot for 2-3 days a week of resistance training hitting those compound lifts and core work. Take advantage of face down exercises which can target postural issues. Exercises such as hip mobility drills, and anti rotational core work like Palloff presses will help here. Side planks, and deadbugs are other core drills you can incorporate.

Using split stance exercises like lunges, or doing presses on a physioball will further help challenge your core while still hitting the major muscles. Make sure to discontinue any crunch work by the end of the first trimester so you do not increase the risk of separation of your abdominal wall as your stomach starts to stretch out. Also realize if you have days you just find you do not have the energy that is totally okay. You can go for a swim or a light walk to get some movement in.

2nd Trimester

Energy should increase here and thus allow us to go a little more moderate intensity. Adding a little more weight to your rows, deadlifts, and squats is totally fine. Put a bigger emphasis on back work to keep your posture tall and prevent your upper back from getting too weak. Changing exercises that normally you do flat on your back to more incline work is a good idea as well for ease and comfort. Rotational work for core such as chops also may be included.

3rd Trimester

During this stage we want to start tapering the intensity again as your hormones and energy levels will vary. Keeping up with the light cardio on days you can’t get to the gym are still good. Wider stance movements such as sumo squats and sumo deadlifts can be utilized. These will help strengthen your pelvic floor as well.

Resistance training is a great tool to use during your pregnancy to keep your body and mind healthy. It’ll make post pregnancy a lot easier to recover from as your body becomes more flexible and certain areas become prone to getting weaker due to stretching. Above all else, listen to your body! Don’t do anything that may increase risk for injury.

The Resistance Training Revolution | By Sal Di Stefano

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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