You may have noticed recently that our gym is very fertile. There are several women and men in our community who have recently had babies or become pregnant. This is awesome, of course, but the uncertainty of how far you can push yourself under such conditions, can be nerve racking. Rest assured that there are huge benefits for you and baby to working out while pregnant. Such as reduced back pain, less weight gain, possibility of easier delivery and reduced risk of gestational diabetes. We want you to feel safe and confident when you’re at the gym with your precious cargo, so here is a little play-by play for the fit moms to be. The number one rule at all times is listen to your body!
First, I found this great website: http://www.befitmom.com. It has tons of information about substitution exercises–I’ll mention my favorites–as well as what movements to avoid and when to make certain changes.
For the first trimester, everything I’ve read has said you can keep doing what you are doing in the gym. A precaution I recommend would be to avoid doing exercises that involve risk of falling. I know we could all fall just walking down the street, but in particular rope climbs, muscle ups, and kipping pull ups (if you use tons of chalk, you actually increase your risk of slipping off the bar). If you are the type who goes super hard in workouts, ignoring your brain when it wants you to slow down or rest, now is the time to switch that off. Listen to your body and don’t push too hard. This early stage of the pregnancy is delicate. Sit ups should ideally be modified right away to avoid risk of diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles. It is important to keep your core strong however, so instead of sit ups and GHDs, try planks, or Pallof presses, which are described in this video.
During second trimester, especially around 20 weeks, some additional modifications may need to begin. Lying on your back is not recommended (such as in the bench press or hip bridges). Try to decrease intensity at this point. Workouts are no longer for time or for reps but simply to keep the body moving as best it can. As the belly starts to grow, Olympic lifts will have to be modified due to bar path impediment. Working from the hang position for cleans and snatches is a great way to go. Cleans and snatches can also be done with dumbbells rather than a barbell. Squats are always good to do throughout your entire pregnancy as this will keep your pelvic muscles working. Here is a list of other replacement exercises you can always try:
Sit Ups = plank, pallof press, slam ball, side plank, supine pelvic tucks, hanging knee raise.
Bench Press = press, push up (elevated as necessary).
Handstand Push Up = dumbbell or barbell press/push press.
Box Jump = lower box at first, and then step up.
Kipping Pull Up = should be on low bar and then strict or ring row.
Kettlebell Swing = possibly fine throughout, may modify to single arm swing for comfort on the back swing.
Deadlift = possibly ok throughout, though sumo or kettlebell deadlifts may be more comfortable.
Snatch/Clean = hang power versions, then dumbbells as necessary once the belly is in the way. From about the second trimester on, perform the power version of the movement and then squat under control. Dynamic squat versions of the lifts should be avoided. Moderate load deadlifts are also a great substitution.
Jump Rope/Running = as far as your level of comfort allows, keep doing them. Rowing is a good sub, as are kettlebell swings and/or slam ball for a similar metabolic effect.
Thrusters/Wall Ball = controlled squat and presses, either with a barbell or dumbbells.
Push Ups/Burpees = on a raised surface, i.e. parallettes or a bar in a squat rack.
In the third trimester, balance may become an issue, so be careful when doing anything from an elevated surface or just modify with one of the movements above. A further decrease in intensity will happen automatically but you will still be working hard, just in a different way. Focus on range of motion rather than speed or weight. This will keep your joints and muscles supple and cramp-free.
Hope this helps! As always if you have specific questions, feel free to ask a coach, and remember to listen to your body.