Is it safe to lift weights while pregnant?

This post has been updated. It was originally published on January 29, 2019.

© Deposit Photos Is it safe to lift weights while pregnant?

Whether or not you’ve resolved to get into shape this January, Muscle Month is here to teach you a thing or two about stretching, contracting, lifting, tearing, gaining, and so much more.

Even in 2019, many of us still act like pregnancy is practically a disability. Anyone in that condition should take it easy, eat plenty of food, and generally avoid doing anything that might be even remotely construed as interfering with the body’s ability to grow a human being. For decades that advice also extended to exercise in all forms. The prevailing thought was that it was better to rest than to over-exert yourself. But plenty of expectant parents want to maintain their workout regimen as much as possible when they’re pregnant, and they want to do it safely.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of research to rely on—and what little there is has, in many cases, been overturned by more recent analyses. Yet there are still plenty of physicians who confidently proclaim that a pregnant person can’t lift more than 15 pounds safely. “I had my first son five years ago and I have my grad degree in coaching and exercise science, and I just felt like, ‘how do I know nothing about this?’ If someone would have known, it would be me,” says Brianna Battles, a coach and now-expert in training pregnant people. “There was no information about women’s health as it pertained to pregnancy or postpartum, and for athletes in particular. I’m not going to use pink dumbbells and do yoga. It made me so upset.” Today, she runs a certification program supported by the National Strength and Conditioning Association for trainers to learn how to handle pregnant clients safely.

We consulted Battles along with some other experts to figure out how you can stay active without putting a growing fetus in jeopardy.

In all the meta-analyses and expert opinion papers on the topic, there are some broad strokes that everyone can agree on. One is that you probably shouldn’t be getting into an intensive weight lifting regimen while pregnant if you haven’t lifted before. You can certainly start to exercise and lift light weights, but you shouldn’t suddenly take up competitive body building while you’re literally building a body.

But let’s assume you’re a person who’s lifted before and wants to continue. There are ways to keep going safely, and more importantly, there are good reasons to go for it.

Several review articles on the topic note that an oft-overlooked benefit of exercise during pregnancy is improved mental health. “At first I was like ‘okay, I guess I won’t be snatching 240 pounds any time soon,’ but that’s a big part of your identity,” explains Quiana Welch, a Crossfitter and Olympic weightlifter who holds the American record for the snatch. “If you were top in your sport or close, and suddenly you’re pregnant and you’re like, ‘I can’t do any of this anymore,’ that’s hard.” Welch, who is due in June, has been an athlete her whole life. So even though her first trimester was tough—she was tired all the time and barely sleeping—she stuck with exercising. Now she squeezes in some lifting whenever she feels she has the energy (which is admittedly easier than it is for most expectant parents, since she’s a coach at Black Iron Gym in Sparks, Nevada), and though she doesn’t push herself the same way she usually would, those workouts are essential to her mental well-being.

Even non-athletes get mental health benefits. One 2015 review of pregnancy and exercise notes that pregnancy makes those who have suffered depression more likely to experience it again, and that between 10 and 30 percent of patients get depressed during their pregnancy—more than in the postpartum period. Exercise is associated with a 67 percent reduced risk of prenatal depression.

And then there’s the weight. In the official 2019 recommendations from Canada’s Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the panel notes that fewer than 15 percent of patients meet the 150 weekly minutes of physical activity recommended during pregnancy. This leads to a high percentage (it varies widely) of pregnant people gaining excess weight that is then hard to lose later on, they wrote, going on to note that “Concerns over harms have not been substantiated by research and the risks of not engaging in prenatal physical activity have not been adequately emphasized.” Maternal obesity rates have been rising over the past 30-odd years, and this may be driving the increase in complications like pre-eclampsia, gestational hypertension, and gestational diabetes mellitus. Physical activity during pregnancy reduces all of the odds of all of these conditions (by 41, 39, 38 percent respectively).

Plus, many of the concerns that obstetricians used to have—that exercise would increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth or low birth weight—haven’t been substantiated. In fact, studies suggest that strengthening muscles, especially in the back, could help reduce pain as your belly grows.

“We’re not just talking about a fit pregnancy, we’re talking about long term fitness and function,” says Battles. “I think weight-training wise, there’s just so much more benefit than there is risk. A lot of women can keep training by making modifications.”

If you’re pregnant and you want to keep lifting weights, you should absolutely listen to the advice of your doctors and trainers: there may be legitimate reasons you need to take it especially easy, or specific components of your usual workout routine that are genuinely unsafe. But if all you’re hearing is that pregnant people should not lift weights, full stop, then you should definitely seek a second opinion.

A few people will try to attach a specific number to how much you should be lifting while you’re pregnant, but it’s really about you as an individual. “It’s such an arbitrary recommendation because lots of women have kids who are 30 to 40 pounds,” says Battles. “There’s zero evidence that lifting over any specific amount of weight is bad.” But that’s not to say that pregnancy is a time to hit your PRs. The goal is to stay active and healthy, not push yourself to the point of breaking. “Even if I keep trying to do things, I’m getting heavier and I’m tired,” Welch says. “Be cognizant of what feels bad, because every other week it changes. Just because you feel like you can do it, that doesn’t mean you should do it.”

Having someone who’s experienced, or ideally certified, in coaching pregnant athletes can help you determine what’s safe and healthy for you. “Pregnant women should also listen to their bodies,” says Michelle Motola, director of the Exercise and Pregnancy Laboratory at Western University. “If it hurts, stop the activity and do not continue, especially if weight training.”

Even though pregnant people aren’t delicate flowers, they are going through a vulnerable phase. And though preterm birth and the like don’t seem tied to weight lifting, there are some key issues that obstetricians and coaches alike worry about.

One aspect is just physical damage: Any activity where you could fall or a weight could smash into your belly is inadvisable. For weightlifters, that takes most Olympic lifts off the table because they involve moving the barbell quickly and close to your body. Welch says she stopped snatching (an exercise where you move the bar from the floor to above your head) immediately, and though she could do cleans (from the floor or your knees to shoulder level) for a while because the bar doesn’t stay as close to your body, she had to stop that quickly as well.

You should also take care not to strain your body in ways that weren’t previously an issue. “If an athlete is doing a back squat, a lot of the times we’re used to holding our breath at the top,” Battles explains. “But when you’re pregnant that increases intra-abdominal pressure not just on midline but also the pelvic floor.” That extra pressure can lead to a pelvic organ prolapse or a diastasis recti (where the left and right abdominal muscles separate).

Training at a very high level can also interfere with fetal oxygen supply as blood gets diverted to the active muscles. Small studies of Olympic-level athletes showed they could safely train up to about 90 percent of their maximum oxygen capacity (VO2 max), but above that point and their fetuses’ hearts slowed dangerously. Most amateur athletes aren’t able to monitor their blood oxygen levels as they exercise, so the rule of thumb is often that you should still be able to speak—maybe not easily, but to say full sentences—while working out.

There’s also some concern about the hormone relaxin, which relaxes joints to aid in the birthing process. It’s historically been held up as a reason that pregnant people should be careful not to overextend their joints, as they’ll be more flexible than usual. Battles hasn’t experienced many problems of this sort with her clients, but as athletes they’re probably tighter than the average person, which might mean their joints are less likely to grow loose enough to cause injury.

Beyond that, experts simply advise listening to your body and what it’s trying to tell you. “The problem is we don’t know what the effects might be on both the mother and fetus, so we err on the side of caution,” Mottola says, pointing out that no ethics board would even allow the kind of randomized controlled trial that could definitively test the limits of exercise during pregnancy. Even the International Olympic Committee’s in-depth analysis on exercise in pregnant elite athletes relied mostly on small studies and theoretical outcomes. It and most of the other advice out there amounts to this: do what feels good to stay active, and don’t push it too hard.

Though you’ll probably have to eliminate Olympic lifts and pull ups and various other potentially hazardous exercises, there are plenty of lifts you can still do as long as you know how to perform the movement safely. Battles teaches her clients early on to stop holding their breath and bearing down on their pelvic floors. That often means also dropping some weight, since lifting heavier would necessitate bracing against your abdomen and pelvic floor.

For her part, Welch has continued to squat, deadlift, and overhead press during her pregnancy. “I usually give myself a certain percentage that I don’t want to exceed, or I put weight on the bar and if I feel like I have to brace or really concentrate or really set up, I won’t do that weight,” she says. “It’s about me being able to breathe throughout the repetition.”

All of that may change as she progresses, but the general theory holds: do what feels good. “You can adapt and modify the range of motion, the load, the strategy, the volume of reps,” Battles explains. “We don’t need to eliminate, it’s more about how can we make modifications.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Boat launches Vertex smartwatch with SpO2 tracker and up to 10 days battery life

Boat has expanded its range of smartwatches in India with the launch of its next-generation Vertex smartwatch. The new device comes with a large 1.69-inch HD screen and is claimed ... Read more »

Garena Free Fire Redeem Codes for October 28, 2021: How to redeem daily codes

Garena Free Fire is an action-adventure battle royal game developed by 111 Dots Studio. The developers of the game upgrade numerous alpha-numeric codes daily. This helps the players get rewards ... Read more »

(LEAD) Hyundai Steel swings to black in Q3 on robust sales

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS more details throughout, photo) SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Steel Co., South Korea’s No. 2 steelmaker, said on Thursday it swung to the black ... Read more »

(2nd LD) Samsung logs record sales, second-highest operating profit in Q3 on buoyant chip biz

(ATTN: CHANGES lead; ADDS more details in paras 8-11, 16-18, photos; TRIMS)By Woo Jae-yeon SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co. on Thursday reported strong third-quarter earnings on the ... Read more »

Hanwha Solutions Q3 net profit up 2 pct. to 193.4 bln won

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hanwha Solutions Corp. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net income of 193.4 billion won (US$165.2 million), up 2 percent from a year earlier. The company ... Read more »

Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Q3 net profit up 119.3 pct. to 35.3 bln won

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 35.3 billion won (US$30.2 million), up 119.3 percent from a year earlier. The ... Read more »

Hyundai Mobis Q3 net income up 36.8 pct. to 535.5 bln won

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Mobis Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 535.5 billion won (US$457.5 million), up 36.8 percent from a year earlier. The company ... Read more »

How Amazon may survive Apple privacy changes in digital ad business

Amazon.com is expected to emerge as a winner in the digital advertising arena, surviving Apple‘s privacy changes better than rivals Facebook and Snap. The ecommerce giant’s vast trove of customer ... Read more »

Intel launches new PC chips, says US supercomputer will double expected speeds

Intel Corp introduced a new, faster family of processor chips for personal computers and said that the supercomputer it is helping the U.S. government to build will reach double previously ... Read more »

Facebook asks employees to preserve internal documents for legal inquiries

Facebook Inc has told its employees to preserve all internal documents and communications for legal reasons, as governments and regulators have started inquiries into its operation. The increased scrutiny comes ... Read more »

How to watch Star Trek: Prodigy online from anywhere now

This new show from Paramount Plus promises to go where no Star Trek animated series has gone before. Devised for a younger audience, this cinematic adventure series will be the ... Read more »

Digital IC on Singpass app can be used for public services from 1 Nov

Singpass‘ new Digital IC interface. (SCREENSHOT: GovTech) SINGAPORE — Singaporeans who forget to bring their NRIC cards for government services will have an alternative means to prove their identity, with ... Read more »

Hyundai Steel swings to profits in Q3

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Steel Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 595.9 billion won (US$509.1 million), turning from a loss of 44.7 billion won a ... Read more »

Apple will soon tell iPhone users what data is collected by apps

After making a lot of developers squeamish and at the same time giving users more choice about their privacy, Apple is set to bring another feature to iPhone that’s bound ... Read more »

Russian Spacecraft Launches Into Orbit for International Space Station

The Russian space agency Roscosmos successfully launched an uncrewed cargo spacecraft aboard a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station on October 28. Footage released by NASA shows liftoff from ... Read more »

Samsung warns supply chain upsets may hit chip demand, profit at 3-year high

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Thursday it expects component shortages to affect chip demand from some customers in the final three months of the year, after reporting its highest ... Read more »

US consumer watchdog to review Big Tech data, promote lending competition

Chief consumer finance watchdog Rohit Chopra told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday his agency will review Big Tech’s impact on the flow of money in the economy as leading technology firms ... Read more »

Climate change misinformation fools too many people – but there are ways to combat it

Hadrian/Shutterstock In recent decades, people in the UK have watched climate change shift from being an abstract threat discussed on the news to an increasingly common presence in everyday life. ... Read more »

Lotte Chilsung Beverage Q3 net profit up 177.3 pct. to 92.5 bln won

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 92.5 billion won (US$78.9 million), up 177.3 percent from a year earlier. Operating ... Read more »

Hyundai Development shifts to black in Q3

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Development Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net profit of 43.8 billion won (US$37.4 million), shifting from a loss of 74.9 billion won a ... Read more »

Esports talent in Korea gets boost from big business, easing of gaming ban

People play online games at an internet cafe in Seoul. Korea Times file South Korean teenager Yoon Ki-chan gets just three hours of sleep a day but spends more than ... Read more »

How Microsoft nearly overtakes Apple as most valuable company

A surge in Microsoft Corp’s shares nearly unseated Apple Inc as the world’s most valuable company, a day before the iPhone maker reports its quarterly results. Fueled by strong quarterly ... Read more »

Here's how Google aims to take on the Apple iPad

It’s no secret that when it comes to tablets, the iPad remains a few steps ahead of its Android counterparts. And a lot of it is down to the software ... Read more »

'Aadhaar Hackathon 2021' starts today: Theme, rules, prizes and all you need to know

The ‘Aadhaar Hackathon 2021’ consists of problem statements categorized under two broad themes – Address Update and Authentication Reimagined. (Representative image: Reuters) The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has ... Read more »

Amazon app quiz October 28, 2021: Get answers to these five questions to win Rs 20,000 in Amazon Pay balance

Win Rs 20,000 in your Amazon Pay balance today! You just have to answer 5 questions and a bit of luck. Amazon is back with its daily dose of app ... Read more »

Samsung smartphones getting this feature for faster digital payments

Samsung has launched a new Scan QR feature that allows users to make digital payments easily. The feature enables users to make QR code payments by opening the camera or ... Read more »

What to look out for before buying Intel's 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs

Intel‘s 12th Gen Alder Lake i9 and i5 CPUs (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA) Well, the cat is out of the bag. Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake processors are official and ... Read more »

Naver unveils new AI-powered search service

By Kim Han-joo SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s dominant internet portal operator Naver Corp. on Thursday introduced a new personalized search service dubbed AiR Search. The service, powered ... Read more »

Retail sales up 8.2 pct in September on 'revenge shopping' amid pandemic

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Retail sales in South Korea surged 8.2 percent in September from a year earlier, data showed Thursday, as consumers turned to “revenge shopping” amid the ... Read more »

SK Innovation to develop all-solid-state batteries with US firm

Dr. Lee Seong-jun, chief technology officer of SK Innovation Co., poses for a photo with Doug Campbell, CEO of Solid Power, after signing a deal on joint development and production ... Read more »

SK Innovation to develop all-solid-state batteries with U.S. firm

By Kim Seung-yeon SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — SK Innovation Co., a South Korean battery maker, said Thursday it will develop and produce all-solid-state batteries with a U.S. firm, in ... Read more »

Hanwha Life Insurance net soars 154% despite pandemic

The corporate logo of Hanwha Life Insurance Co. (Yonhap)Major South Korean insurer Hanwha Life Insurance Co. said Thursday its third-quarter net profit rose more than 1.5 times from a year ... Read more »

Digital IC in Singpass app can be used to access public services in person from Nov 1

From Nov 1, all government agencies will accept digital ICs when individuals use or apply for public services in person. SINGAPORE – Forgot to bring your NRIC for registering at ... Read more »

(LEAD) Hanwha Life Insurance net soars 154 pct despite pandemic

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS info throughout, image) SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Major South Korean insurer Hanwha Life Insurance Co. said Thursday its third-quarter net profit rose more than ... Read more »

S-Oil Q3 net soars elevenfold on strong petrochem sales

(Yonhap)S-Oil Corp., South Korea’s No. 3 oil refiner, said Thursday its net income surged by elevenfold in the third quarter from a year earlier, driven by strong sales of petrochemical ... Read more »

(LEAD) S-Oil Q3 net soars elevenfold on strong petrochem sales

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout; ADDS photo, byline) By Kim Seung-yeon SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — S-Oil Corp., South Korea’s No. 3 oil refiner, said Thursday its net income ... Read more »

Android 12L is a new version for big screens on tablets and foldables

Read more »

Search engine choice screen to stop Google

Internet users in Australia would be asked to choose a search engine from a mandatory screen as part of efforts to break up Google's dominance. The Australian Competition and Consumer ... Read more »

(LEAD) Samsung logs record sales, second-highest operating profit in Q3 on buoyant chip biz

(ATTN: CHANGES headline; ADDS more details in last 10 paras)By Woo Jae-yeon SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co. on Thursday reported strong third-quarter earnings on the continued robust ... Read more »

Hanwha Systems Q3 net income down 0.5 pct. to 31.2 bln won

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — Hanwha Systems Co. on Thursday reported its third-quarter net income of 31.2 billion won (US$26.6 million), down 0.5 percent from a year earlier. The company ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic