Pregnancy can be pretty exhausting (more so than I realized!), but I’ve been determined to keep some movement in my life for these nine special months. It’s not always easy, but I imagine it would be even more difficult trying to get back into an exercise routine after the baby arrives, if I didn’t.
In some ways, my workouts haven’t changed much. I’ve definitely cut myself some slack when it comes to sticking to any sort of schedule or time limit, but I’ve been happily surprised to find that I’m still comfortable doing the same types of workouts I was doing pre-pregnancy, with just a few modifications.
Here’s what my workouts have looked like lately:
This is the area that has probably changed the most for me. During my first trimester, I felt physically comfortable doing jogging/walking intervals, but I was careful to wear a heart rate monitor to make sure my pulse didn’t get too high. Your pulse is automatically higher while pregnant, so it can be challenging to keep it down while exercising!
Note: There’s some debate over what the recommended heart rate should for pregnant women, but I decided 140 BPM was not feasible for me, so I stuck to a heart rate of closer to 155 BPM. You can also simply go by your perceived rate of exertion–> if you can carry on a conversation while performing your workout, you should be good. If you can’t carry on a conversation, or need to gasp for air, it’s time to take it down a notch.
By my 12th week of pregnancy, I started to feel a bit dizzy while jogging, so I stopped the jogging intervals all together and have stuck to walking as my primary source of cardio. I’ll occasionally walk for 30 minutes on my treadmill, but mostly, I make sure to take my dog on a leisurely two-mile walk most nights of the week. It’s great for both of us!
When I first found out I was pregnant, I thought I’d need to do some special “pregnancy workouts” to keep my growing baby safe while strength training, but I surprisingly felt pretty normal those first few months. I continued going the the Physique 57 studio each weekend during my first trimester, and didn’t feel the need for any modifications at that early stage. It’s not until you reach your second trimester that you must start avoiding workouts on your back or stomach, so that’s when things get a little trickier.
Note: A good rule of thumb when pregnant: If you ever feel uncomfortable performing an exercise, don’t do it! I wasn’t sure exactly when I was supposed to stop doing certain exercises on my stomach, and then one day, I rolled over and felt a “brick” in my tummy. I seriously couldn’t have done something on my stomach if I wanted to! I had the same experience when lying on my back. All of the sudden, you can feel the pressure from your growing uterus, and *know* you shouldn’t be lying on your back anymore.
For pregnancy-specific workouts, I also invested in Tracy Anderson’s Pregnancy Project. I’ve enjoyed this DVD set for the stretching and Tracy’s gentle workout approach for each month of pregnancy (she was pregnant while filming it!). However, I have a very hard time doing the same workout over and over, so one workout per month wasn’t going to cut it for me. I need variety!
So, I started learning some pregnancy modifications from my visits to the Physique 57 studio, and applied them to my home DVD workouts, as well!
Physique 57 is already perfect for pregnant women, since it’s low-impact and only requires the use of some light hand weights and your own body weight for resistance. In fact, the only modifications needed are for the floor work, and that can be solved with the use of a pregnancy wedge, or a few throw pillows! The key to working out while pregnant is to ALWAYS keep your heart above the baby, so whether you’re laying on your back or side, you need to prop yourself up to keep your heart higher than your uterus.
When I’m not doing Physique 57 or Tracy Anderson’s workouts, I also love Jackie Warner’s workout DVD. This is my perfect solution when I don’t want to commit to a long workout, because the DVD is broken up into 20-minute segments. One day, I’ll do the 20-minute lower body workouts, and the next day, I’ll do the 20-minute upper body workout, for a total body approach that isn’t too overwhelming. The only modifications needed are for floor work, so I’ll either use the pillow trick I mentioned above, or I’ll just come up with another workout to do for that minute. (The workouts are divided into 1-minute movements, so you never have to worry about doing the same movement for too long!) I seriously break a sweat doing these workouts, so it’s an effective 20 minutes!
I seem to be averaging a 30-minute strength workout 2-3 times each week, which seems like just enough to maintain my muscles, without burning myself out or pushing too hard. My energy levels can be really fickle lately (with “growing” days, as I like to call them) where I need all the rest I can get, so I don’t worry if I don’t move too much one week, compared to another. Exercising at all seems like cause for celebration!
Reader Feedback: If you are or have been pregnant, what are your favorite pregnancy workouts?