Staying Fit for Pregnancy

*Originally posted Sept 28, 2017

There are a lot of opinions out there on the safety of exercise during pregnancy. The majority can agree on the safety of light aerobic activities such as walking and swimming but put a barbell in your hands or carry a small box down a flight of stairs and suddenly everyone is concerned about the safety of you and your growing fetus. Pregnancy is NOT a disability. A pregnant woman is not suddenly incapable of moving about her daily activities or exercising because she gained a few pounds. We’re gearing up for the biggest life event that will test our level of physical and mental fitness more so than any CrossFit competition or Marathon and need to prepare for such.

I’ve been CrossFitting for over six years now, I’ve felt the pain of Fran and Murph and I have nursed tweaks to both muscles and joints. I’ve changed my programming to include more weightlifting or more cardio to suit my training schedule and my goals for competition or a race. I’ve listened to my body and decreased loads or eliminated movements that didn’t feel right when I was concerned about a possible tear in my shoulder or the risk of an Achilles tendon injury. Training for childbirth and motherhood is really no different.

When I first found out I was pregnant, my training had been spotty. I was nervous to get back into a regular training schedule and eased myself back into it. Today, I am more motivated than I have been in awhile to train. There is a new energy and intention that goes into each workout, knowing that I need to do this not only for my own health but for the health of my little girl.  My doctor knows that I am lifting weights and running and jumping and is 100% supportive. Through years of CrossFit, shoulder tweaks, reading and coaching I have become hyper aware of how my own body moves and feels. I know when to dial it down, dial it up, give it rest, or when I need to switch my routine. I have continued to see the best Physical Therapist in the Hudson Valley through out my pregnancy. He has helped me to keep my movements accountable, assess some aches, and provided me with ways to switch up my movements while continuously getting stronger. .

SO THIS IS HOW I’VE BEEN TRAINING FOR CHILDBIRTH, SCHEDULE AND ENERGY PERMITTING…

Twice a week weightlifting: Last fall I followed the Juggernaut Strength Program and LOVED it. It was easy to follow, included a good amount of accessory work, and the results could be both seen and felt. My little string bean arms were growing for the first time.  I highly recommend this weightlifting program to anyone and everyone. When I was feeling a little lost and in need of some direction to my training a month ago, I decided to modify the Juggernaut program a bit to fit my current needs and schedule. Four days got cut down to two and the bench press was eliminated (no laying on your back at this stage in the game). I do not follow the percentages strictly but so far have been able to increase my loads on the main lifts each week. Deadlifting is starting to get tricky as my belly is growing and this week was extremely uncomfortable. I opted for some lighter single leg deadlifts as an alternative.

CrossFit Metcons 1-2 times per week: I love my gym and some days the easiest thing to do is to just jump in on a class and follow the program.  Some movements need to be scaled or switched. In the first trimester, kipping would send a stabbing pain down my abdomen so everything other than strict pull ups was taken out from the bar. While kipping is no longer painful, if I’m hanging from the bar I’ve continued to perform strict movements and pull ups are now assisted. So far all weighted movements have continued to feel good but as this belly continues to grow, barbells will be switched out for dumbbells. The biggest thing I focus on in my WODs is keeping my breathing and heart rate under control; there is no going to that ugly scary dark space that takes you an hour to recover from.

Accessory Work & Walking: I definitely don’t do either of these as much as I wish I was. Accessory work is usually used for my warm-up whether I’m weightlifting or doing a metcon that day. The focus of my accessory work is improving core engagement and muscular imbalances. The movements I use come from my PT. I aim to get a walk in once a week as well as a strictly accessory work session (about 30mins) once per week.

My goal is to maintain strength throughout this pregnancy. I have no idea what post-partum fitness will look like as much of that is determined by the actual child-birth experience and having a baby in the dead of winter in New York makes going for walks an almost impossibility. I do intend to continue to see my PT in the healing process and have been investigating the Birth Fit postpartumtraining plan.

Every pregnancy is different and what works well for me won’t necessarily be in your best interest. It is important to start exercising before you are pregnant and to have open conversations with your healthcare provider about about any modifications that need to be made to keep body temperature, heart rate, and impact down. It is so important (pregnant or not) to have health care professionals that you trust and communicate well with. Most importantly LISTEN to your body! If something is painful or feels off, it is best to make a change or stop what you are doing immediately. Take it day by day.

HOW ARE YOU STAYING FIT AND STRONG? WHAT ARE YOUR FITNESS GOALS? WHAT ARE YOU TRAINING FOR?

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