We have team meetings once a month at SMART Training. We go through each client on our system and discuss their goals and how those goals fit with their current programme and whether it needs to be amended. This month we sat down on the benches and plyo boxes in the gym (we’re fancy like that) to discuss our cohort of clients and a theme emerged. So many of our clients are pregnant!


The personal trainer or gym instructor is often the first person (outside your partner) you will tell when you find out your pregnant. We often hear the exciting news in the very very early stages and discreetly amend the clients programme. Along with a large number of other clients, this month I too had a small announcement; We (being Jonny and I) are preggers!  John, Operations Manager, suggested we have the water in the gym tested and perhaps start to advertise as the baby making gym.


While I have had to adjust my programme over the last four months, I am still *attempting* to train three times a week. I have the benefit of a Personal Trainer as a hubby but there really is an insurmountable amount of information out there for pregnant women to navigate on the safest way to work out. That plus all the other information new mum’s have to get their heads around during pregnancy (I am currently reading a War and Peace sized pamphlet on breastfeeding) women can be forgiven for packing it all in and lying in bed for 9 months. A quick search on pregnancy training will tell you not to not lift anything heavier than your handbag, only do prenatal yoga and stick to walking and water aerobics (is that even a thing any more?).


But the truth is strength training (also referred to as weight lifting, weight training, body sculpting, toning, and resistance training) is one of the very best ways to minimize the aches and pains that come later in your pregnancy. Weight training is beneficial for pregnant women, as it provides them with the strength they need to compensate for posture adjustments and weight gain that occurs with pregnancy. I have sifted though the information I have found online or been told by well meaning family members and friends and debunked some of the myths of pregnancy and strength training for my fellow soon to be mums.


*Disclaimer: Of course, your doctor’s permission for exercise is essential, as there can be contraindications to exercise during pregnancy. Additionally, the most important thing you can do is tune in to your body and give yourself some grace. Be aware of what your body is telling you—does that exercise feel good? Keep it up. Doesn’t feel so good? Probably best to stop and adjust.


1. Lifting Weights is Dangerous For You & Your Baby

Just the opposite is true, it seems. The outcomes for moms and babies are better with prenatal exercise. The research shows that fitter moms have shorter labors, less chance of preterm labor, fewer complications, and shorter hospital stays.

Also of note is that women who exercise during pregnancy report lower rates of perceived exertion during labor, than women who did not exercise. Ever better news is that fit moms have healthier babies. A recent study showed that exercise during pregnancy might program a baby’s heart to resist cardiovascular problems later in life, because they have stronger blood vessels. Another new study found that the brains of babies born to women who exercised moderately throughout pregnancy appear to mature faster.


2. The Perfect Training Programme: Walking Prenatal Yoga & Water Aerobics


I love yoga and I like walking. I must confess I thought Water Aerobics went out of ‘fitness fashion’ along with leotards and Jane Fonda style workouts. While all (perhaps not the water aerobics) are fabulous activities to have as part of your prenatal exercise routine. You just can’t beat the benefits of a strength training program added to these options.

You need to be strong to support your changing body. To maintain your strength as you carry extra weight. To help your postpartum recovery process. To prepare yourself and your baby for intense moments of labour and delivery.

Just as your body will experience a multitude of changes as you progress through pregnancy, your program will need to go on a journey too. What you did in your first trimester might not be working for you in the third. Have to lower your intensity? Decrease your weights? That is totally necessary and normal. You will absolutely get back to where you were and likely, an even stronger version of your new-mama self.


3. Don’t Let Your Heart Rate Rise Over 130 BPM During Exercise.

We recommend that all of our clients, not just the soon to be mum’s wear MYZONE heart rate monitors while training. The coaches can then monitor, in real time, the clients heart rate as a percentage of their max heart rate and can reduce the intensity of the training should the clients heart rate raise above 80% of their max heart rate. Most of our pregnant clients, are easily hitting 130bpm near the end of their warm-up. Breathing has deepened, they’re able to continue with conversation, just starting to sweat, and most importantly, feeling great.

The cause for concern with too high a heart rate has to do with the muscles pulling all the oxygen and not enough going to the fetus. This is a legitimate concern. However, the 130bpm guidelines come from outdated research, which was understandably cautious.

We now know the heart rate can be pushed higher than this without worry. We recommend using the MYZONE Heart Rate Monitor or very simply the “Talk Test” to guide you. If you’re feeling great, being appropriately challenged, breathing harder but not out of breath, are able to hold a conversation and allowing ample recovery during and between your workouts—your being safe.

Keep in mind, your body and your baby are going to go through stressful periods during labour and delivery. Think of your strength and interval training as test runs for the impending contractions of labour. You work hard for 30-60 seconds, rest, and repeat. This is what prenatal training is all about. Prepare yourself for the main event!


4. Do Not Start A Strength Training Programme While Pregnant.

While it’s true that if you have never done strength training before, pregnancy is probably not the time to start slinging weights around the gym unsupervised. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot start a strength training programme while pregnant while being guided through your strength training by a reputable, qualified personal trainer whose job is to help you keep your changing body as strong, stable, and comfortable as possible—for as long as possible.

First things first, get permission from your doctor or midwife. Then set up a consultation with a Personal Trainer who is used to working with pregnant clients. The Personal Training can create a training programme for you that concentrates on your posterior chain, a group of muscles made up of the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves. These exercises will help to improve posture throughout pregnancy and helps reduce lower back pain. The Personal Trainer will ensure that you practice your strength training at a reasonable, steady pace — using lightweights and doing high repetitions of exercises.


5. Strength Training Will Only Make You More Exhausted.


The fact is, pregnancy fatigue can be a huge struggle for many expectant moms — especially during the first trimester and the last month of pregnancy.

However the truth is daily exercise will actually give you a rejuvenated burst of energy, even when your feeling tired. Besides being good for you and your baby, working out during pregnancy can even give you back some of that get-up-and-go that you’re pretty sure had gotten up and left.

Obviously listen to your body and if your tired, sleep! But when you do decide to train don’t forfeit strength training for fear of exhaustion later in the day! Remember at these times, exercise during pregnancy doesn’t have to be exhausting to be effective. A thirty minute gym visit can be even more relaxing than a stint on the sofa.



30-Day Kick Start Programmes

If you feel have a goal in mind and feel that you could use a the guidance or support of some of the best Personal Trainers in the country, we offer a 30 Day Kick Start programme in our Churchtown based gym. We offer both Personal Training and Group Training programmes. During the 30 days, you’ll learn what you need to know to continue on your own path following the 30 days, or you can always sign up for 1-on-1 Training or Semi Private Training or even Group Training at SMART Training to continue working with a personal trainer.