Muscle Strengthening during Pregnancy
Many women would like to continue strength training during
pregnancy, but are hesitant due to the seemingly inconsistent and diverse
opinions on the subject. In recent years, however, a growing number of
professionals from the medical and exercise science communities have te ndered
specific advice for pregnant women interested in
According to Updated Guidelines for Exercise
- 8 to 10 muscular
exercises can be performed for one to two sessions per week on
nonconsecutive days. One aerobic training session can be replaced by a
muscle strengthening session in the weight room or at home,
- The guidelines also recommend using lighter weights with more
repetitions. "Heavy weights may overload joints already loosened by
increased levels of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy."
lunges, which may raise the risk for injury to pelvic connective tissue, and
free weights, which may hit the
abdomen when used, should be avoided. Instead, the use of
has been recommended.
In addition, lifting while flat on one's back, in the
second and third
trimesters, may cause the uterus to compress the inferior vena cava, into which
blood from the pregnant uterus flows. "This increased pressure can be
transmitted to the placenta and could compromise fetal blood flow in the
gas-exchange area, thereby limiting oxygen supply to the
fetus." Instead, these
movements can be performed at an incline.
The Valsalva maneuver, that is, forcefully exhaling without releasing air, can
rapidly increase blood pressure and intra-abdominal pressure and also may
decrease oxygen flow to the fetus. Rarely, the Valsalva maneuver may result in a
decrease in blood pressure.
If you feel muscle strain or excessive fatigue, modify the moves and reduce the
frequency of the workouts. Pregnancy is not the time to perform heavy
weightlifting, but muscle strengthening according to the new guidelines will
burn calories and increase the
resting metabolic rate.
pregnancy is most practical during the first 24 weeks. During the last 3
months, it can be difficult to do many exercises that once seemed easy. This is
If it has been some time since you've exercised, it is a good idea to start
slowly. Begin with as little as 5 minutes of exercise a day and add 5 minutes
each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day.
Always begin each exercise session with a warm-up period for 5–10 minutes.
This is light activity, such as slow
walking, that prepares your muscles. During the warm up,
your muscles to avoid
stiffness and soreness. Hold each stretch for at least 10–20 seconds.
After exercising, cool down by slowly reducing your activity. This allows
heart rate to return to normal levels. Cooling down for 5–10 minutes and
stretching again also helps you to avoid
BASIC GUIDELINES AND
PRINCIPLES FOR STRENGTH TRAINING FOR PREGNANT WOMEN
possessing any of the American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists (ACOG) contraindications for aerobic exercise
during pregnancy should not participate in strength training .
No ballistic movements should be
employed during pregnancy. Pregnant women experience joint and
connective tissue laxity, raising their susceptibility for
injury while performing
should be encouraged to
normally during strength training. Oxygen delivery to the
placenta may be reduced during any act of breath holding (i.e.,
the performance of a Valsalva maneuver).
Maximal lifts and heavy
resistances should be avoided, especially after the first
trimester when increasing amounts of the hormone relaxin are
present. Since relaxin increases tissue laxity, the performance
of heavy lifts later in pregnancy may increase the risk of
injury to the joints, connective tissue and skeletal structures
of an expectant woman. An exercise set consisting of at least 12
to 15 repetitions without undue fatigue should ensure that the
resistance level is not too great during any particular strength
strength-training workout consisting of a single set of a series
of exercises, collectively involving all of the major muscle
groups, should be performed two times per week.
training effect occurs, it is recommended that overload be
achieved initially by increasing the number of repetitions and,
subsequently, by increasing the amount of resistance.
training on machines is generally preferred to using free
weights since machines tend to require less skill and can be
more easily controlled.
particular strength exercise produces pain or discomfort, it
should be discontinued and an alternative exercise should be
A pregnant woman should
immediately consult her physician if any of the following
warning signs or complications appear: vaginal bleeding,
abdominal pain or cramping, ruptured membranes, elevated blood
pressure or heart rate, or lack of fetal movement.
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY
Anemia or other blood disorders
Palpitations or irregular heart rhythms
Breech presentation in the last
intrauterine growth retardation
bleeding during present pregnancy
Extremely sedentary lifestyle
Dated 01 June 2011