How To Modify Workouts To Suit Your Pregnancy
Working out during pregnancy means you are probably going to have to modify exercises. Right now, though, you’re probably wondering where to even start.
As I explained in my blog about staying fit during pregnancy, each person’s journey is different and everyone experiences pregnancy slightly differently. That means that you should be following an exercise program that is safe for you and your baby, and you should be checking in with your doctor regularly.
Even if you have been given the go-ahead from your doctor to keep exercising, it is good to know how to modify workouts and exercises to suit your pregnancy, no matter what stage you are in. That’s where these tips can help.
How to modify exercises during pregnancy
As your pregnancy progresses, your body will go through a number of changes, so you will need to make some exercise modifications. I’ll touch on these in more detail later on in this blog.
To help you understand more about modifying exercise in the first, second and third trimester of pregnancy, keep reading!
Exercising during your first trimester of pregnancy
For some women, any sort of exercise in the first trimester of pregnancy sounds like the last thing they want to do! Morning sickness, sore breasts and extreme fatigue are some of the common symptoms that can make it too difficult to follow your normal workout routine.
Cut back on your routine (try switching to a low-impact BBG pregnancy workout instead) or skip the workouts until you are feeling better. If you feel fatigued, rest!
If you have a good level of fitness, your goal during pregnancy is to maintain this — you should not be exercising to lose weight. For anyone who wasn’t active before and is starting pregnancy workouts, start slow. Listen to your body and stop if you’re feeling unwell.
Exercising during your second trimester of pregnancy
Once you reach weeks 14-26 of your pregnancy, you may begin to get your energy back (although this isn’t the case for everyone!). If you’re feeling good and your body is handling exercise well, you can keep going with your low-impact routine.
From the second trimester onwards, try to avoid any activity that puts you on your back for long periods of time as this can restrict your blood flow. For any ladies who love their yoga classes, if you haven’t made the switch to prenatal yoga, make sure you avoid any inverted poses and backbends.
Exercising during your third trimester of pregnancy
Your due date is getting closer! By now, your joints and ligaments have loosened, so most movements feel different to how they did pre-pregnancy. That means taking things slowly and avoiding overstretching, jumping or skipping. Walking is a great option for exercise in the third trimester because it’s low impact and you can do it at your own pace.
If you are feeling tired but still want to try and be active, you can break your 30 minutes of activity into three lots of 10 minutes each.
Modifying a workout for pregnancy
Here are some basic guidelines you can follow to modify exercises and to make any pregnancy workout more comfortable.
Reduce the intensity of your workout
As your pregnancy progresses, your body goes through significant changes and you will need to modify your workouts. Your resting heart rate will increase, which means you need to be mindful of doing any exercise where your heart rate becomes too high.
A general recommendation is to keep your heart rate below approximately 140-150 bpm (beats per minute) to ensure you aren’t restricting oxygen to yourself and the baby. Keep in mind, though, your heart rate can vary depending on your fitness level, age or lifestyle. An Apple Watch or any other heart rate monitor can help you to keep an eye on your heart rate but definitely check with your doctor if there are any concerns you should be mindful of. When it comes to the workout itself, avoid high-intensity intervals and increase the length of your rest breaks if you are doing any circuit training.
Keep in mind this applies to cardio workouts as well. The ‘talk test’, where you are able to maintain a conversation while exercising without being too short of breath, is an easy way to check. If you can’t talk without becoming breathless, slow the intensity.
Pregnancy and balance
Pregnancy can affect your sense of balance, which can put you at a higher risk of falling. Try to avoid unstable exercises or modify the exercises for more stability. For example, substitute an alternating lunge for a static lunge. This allows you to keep both feet on the ground, maintaining points of contact. You can also hold onto an object (such as railing) for additional support.
Avoid exercising in excessive heat during pregnancy
Your body goes through a number of physiological changes during pregnancy and one of them is temperature regulation. Because this becomes harder when you’re pregnant, skip the outdoor workouts for somewhere cooler and dress in loose, breathable clothing.
Weight lifting and pregnancy
If you are planning on continuing with weight training during pregnancy, remember that heavier weights place your body under more strain. This can increase your blood pressure, so don’t lift too heavy and don’t lift to failure (this is lifting to the point you can’t complete the exercise while maintaining correct form). Instead, switch to lighter weights and increase the number of repetitions. Try to also keep your breathing smooth and steady otherwise it can increase the amount of pressure on your abdomen.
Ab exercises and pregnancy
As mentioned above, the abdominal muscle wall can change and begin to separate during the later stages of pregnancy. Some ab exercises can potentially increase this separation, so make sure you modify core exercises when pregnant. You can do this by switching to ‘tabletop’ — exercises that can be done resting on your hands and knees.
Keep your doctor in the loop
Through each stage of your pregnancy, make sure you are chatting regularly with your doctor about the type of exercise you are doing (or are wanting to do) and how much exercise you are doing.
That’s how to safely modify exercises during pregnancy
No matter what stage of pregnancy you are in, make sure you are listening to your body, particularly when it comes to exercise. Warm up before you begin any workout (even a pregnancy workout) and cool down afterwards. These tips can help you to modify workouts and exercises for pregnancy so that you are getting active safely.
I want you to be as comfortable and safe as possible, particularly when it comes to exercising during pregnancy. My modified BBG workout for pregnancy is a nice low-impact routine you can try out too. Remember ladies, take things at your own pace and give yourself plenty of rest!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.