I’ve been receiving so many questions on my fitness routine during pregnancy, so I wanted to share a post with all of the details for any other expecting-mamas or those who may be heading down this journey in the near future.
I posted pretty early on that I wasn’t going to be sharing much on my prenatal workouts because I wanted to figure it out for myself first. I am putting together a prenatal and postnatal fitness plan but it’s not tried and true until I experience it all myself, firsthand, you know what I mean?
It’s funny because the things I thought would be challenging, weren’t so much while things I never thought would be difficult have been the biggest challenges. Basically, I’m so glad I didn’t just share some fitness plan I thought I could keep up with because as I’m sure I’ll learn with motherhood in general, nothing is what you expect lol.
For me, each semester required certain fitness modifications for my growing bump and changing body, so I’ve broken down this post by trimester.
What most women experience during the first trimester is a lack of energy and morning sickness/all day nausea. Those two things simply make getting to the gym or in the mood to workout very difficult. For me, that was the only “difficult” part of fitness in the first trimester.
I’m very thankful that my sleepiness only lasted a few short weeks. I also rarely experienced any nausea. I did have serious food aversions (especially to meat), which meant that my meals consisted of a lot of cheese and crackers types of things =I was hungry all the time due to the lack of protein. As soon as my stomach was empty, I would get nauseous. This isn’t sponsored… I got this tea and it helped immediately! Every time!
As for my workouts, I pretty much did what I was doing prior (traditional weight training) at just the slightest lower intensity. I didn’t have to lower my intensity much at all; I just ensured I wasn’t pushing myself to any unsafe limits.
The one thing I chose to do (and something that I would likely do differently next time) was that I stopped running. My OB told me that she would clear me to do the usual workouts I was doing prior to getting pregnant: weight training, running, etc., so that wasn’t an issue. I just felt… scared? Even though I knew running wouldn’t physically hurt my baby, I just couldn’t get onboard with it. Eventually, I really wanted to get back into running, so maybe with my next pregnancy I’ll feel more comfortable and continue that. I’m no avid runner, but I do like to go for a jog around the neighborhood.
So, all in all, the first trimester was pretty much my usual weight training from presses to back squats and deadlifts. Pretty much the workouts you see here on my blog are the exact ones I followed. The only thing I nixed was direct ab training.
In the second trimester, things started to change. As my baby grew, I became more aware of him in my belly. He loved to lay in the transverse position which made a lot of movements more difficult because I literally felt like he got in the way.
In the middle of the 2nd trimester, I began modifying which movements I would do. It wasn’t so much that I needed to stop particular exercises because that’s what my OB advised but when I felt my body saying “no” I just tried something different. For example, lunges caused me a lot of problems as they didn’t allow for much space for my growing bump. If I planned on doing walking lunges and couldnt, I would switch to squats.
As far as lifting, I was still lifting regularly in the 2nd trimester with some slight modifications.
2nd Trimester Modifications:
- Switch to exercises that allowed for more space for the bump (ex: lunges -> squats)
- Longer rest times (I would even sit down between sets to really allow my heart rate to recover)
- Lighter weight (this wasn’t a time for me to focus on lifting heavier; I used weight that allowed me to feel the burn but I definitely had to decrease the amount of weight I was used to using)
- Daily walking (I was very intentional about walking. I found early on that it helped me feel so much more comfortable if I walked… somedays, I would even walk 2x per day for like 20 mins each. Yes, it’s good exercise but it cleared my mind and kept my body loose.)
The third trimester tested my patience a bit with workouts. I really started noticing my limitations. I got tired very quickly. And, I started losing motivation to be active or go to the gym in general.
All the things I really enjoy with fitness – pushing myself out of comfort zones (one more rep!), increasing the weight, getting my heart rate pumping – those were all things I had to put on pause. I was totally okay with that but it did result in a decrease in my desire to workout.
3rd Trimester Modifications
- Bodyweight (I began introducing a bit more body weight exercises, especially for my lower body. I would focus on the muscle contraction and feeling)
- Stairs (I was feeling a bit frustrated with how much my lower body workouts had to change, so I got back into doing stairs. It didn’t hurt my body but I was able to get in a really good workout and work the leg muscle at the same time)
- Lower Intensity Everything (“lower intensity” is relative but my intensity of everything decreased in the 3rd trimester. I lose my breath more quickly so to accommodate that everything else has to decrease in intensity)
- Meditation (I know this isn’t exactly fitness, but I tied it into my workouts by taking 10 minutes at the end of every workout to meditate… I used different things like an app called Calm, deep breathing, visualization and just sitting in silence)
In my 9th month, fitness has pretty much taken a backseat. I’m treating this month entirely different than the 3rd trimester because this is the month I experienced the most amount of physical changes. My goal is simply to be active in some way shape or form daily.
Every day, I feel a little bit different. Some days I’m full of energy and my body feels good, so I’ll do some light weight training. Weight training in my final month is pretty much limited to mostly upper body weights. For lower body training, I typically just use my body weight or resistance bands.
Other days, I don’t move how I’m used to so I’ll go for a walk around my neighborhood or on the treadmill. Funny how I once thought the treadmill was boring as compared to an outdoor walk; however, when you’re pregnant during 90 degree Texas days, a treadmill in an air conditioned gym is heavenly.
There are days when my exercise is running errands as being on your feet and doing a lot of walking in general can quickly tire you out. Then there are those days (and plenty of them) that workouts just don’t happen. I’m totally cool with that too.
Pregnancy changes how you view the role of a workout. When you’re pregnant, you’re obviously not setting goals of lose 5 lbs or gain more muscle because it’s just not feasible. I decided to continue working out during my pregnancy because it made me feel good. It’s also why I don’t worry on days I miss a workout because sometimes not working out helps you feel good too… more rested!
I wanted to share that final thought because for someone who is an avid gym-goer, the idea of not working out several days in a row feels odd. It helped me to think of workouts as a way for me to feel like me and if on a given day a workout didn’t help me achieve that goal, then I skipped it.
FITNESS PLANS POST-BABY
I’m not at all worried about my post-baby body. I haven’t set any goals. I don’t care to. I’m just so stinkin’ excited to get back to training. It’s amazing how much your passion can reignite when you’re forced to take some time away from it.
It’s probably why I decided to take on the immense project of creating the Weight Training Plan 2.0 at the end of my pregnancy haha. I was so excited to be able to join you girls back in the gym at full intensity. That plan launches next week along with the summer challenge, so I’ll have to join in a few weeks late, but I couldn’t be more excited for that.
My number one priority will be my baby. Training will be my me time. I know I’ll “bounce back” but I just want to do so in a safe and enjoyable way, so I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I will, however, be sure to study up and take lots of notes on what I do (what works and what doesn’t) so that I can help all the other mamas out there with their fitness routine post-baby.
Please Note: I am not an OB or medical professional. I share information only relevant to my experience and do not recommend what I did for what you should do. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise routine, especially while pregnant.
OTHER PREGNANCY VLOGS YOU MAY LIKE
1ST TRIMESTER RECAP (WHAT I EAT, WORKOUTS, PURCHASES)
Photography by Jennifer Mathews Photography