A peek into my (pregnant) fitness routine
|July 2, 2013||Posted by The Fit Scoop under Prenatal Fitness|
Since becoming pregnant in February, I’ve been able to keep up with my 6 days-a-week routine. I was lucky that I wasn’t sick or nauseated in the first trimester so I was able to stay very active. Here’s what I’ve been doing for the first half of my pregnancy:
I’ve made it a priority to strength train three times a week. I’ve been focusing on trying to maintain rather than gain strength. So far I haven’t noticed any decrease in strength, but I have noticed that I get more winded while lifting (especially doing compound moves) so I sometimes can’t superset exercises or I end up taking a little longer rest between sets in order to let my heart rate come down. I’ve modified any exercises that I used to do in a supine position (flat on the back) by either doing them on a bench at a 45 degree angle or else substituting the exercise with an equally effective alternative (i.e. doing leg raises in a captain’s chair instead of lying leg raises). I’ve also stopped doing any plyometric moves because of their intensity and in order to avoid injury. Otherwise I’ve been hitting all the muscle groups with the same weight I was doing pre-pregnancy.
As for cardio, though I’ve kept up with 6 days a week, I’ve made some major adjustments in this area. I was running quite a bit before becoming pregnant, in the range of 60 miles per week on average. I developed some lateral knee pain early on and stopped running to let it calm down. It is not unusual to experience soft tissue injuries during pregnancy. The hormone relaxin causes your ligaments to loosen and softens cartilage during pregnancy, making you potentially more susceptible to injury. (Lundgren, 2003) After the pain went away I made the decision to cross-train the rest of my pregnancy. I made this decision for two main reasons. First, my knee flare-up seemed like a warning sign that I’m someone who may be more susceptible to injury during pregnancy and I hate being injured. Second, there are many other cardio activities that I really enjoy (cycling, swimming, hiking, and spinning to name a few) but don’t end up doing because I’m always focusing on my running training. I thought that since I’m finally not training for any races pregnancy would be a good time to focus on other activities I enjoy. So far I’ve found this major change in cardio routine refreshing! It has also eliminated any frustration I would feel from the inevitable slow down in pace and decrease in mileage that occurs with running during pregnancy. It’s been nice to have some activities that I didn’t do regularly pre-pregnancy so I can’t compare my current self to my past self.
In terms of cardio intensity, I’ve been wearing a heart rate monitor to keep my effort levels in check. On four of my cardio days I keep my effort level easy to moderate so my heart rate stays in the 140-150 range. On two of my cardio days I tend to push a bit harder during shorter intervals, letting my heart rate get into the 160s and with a cap of 170. I’ve found that once my heart rate gets above 170 my breathing changes from steady to more labored and short-of-breath. I feel comfortable with this as my cap because it is several beats below the heart rate cap which several research studies have shown is a safe level for highly trained pregnant women to exercise at without harming their unborn child. If I do a longer workout (over an hour) I keep my heart rate under 146, the top of my zone 1 (easy) heart rate zone so I can maintain endurance without overly stressing myself or the baby.
Finally, I’ve started incorporating pre-natal yoga. The focus on breathing and stretching has helped me stay relaxed, and I’ve enjoyed being in a class that is tailored to pregnant women rather than having to modify poses on my own. I didn’t do yoga regularly prior to pregnancy but maybe this experience will get me to convert to regular yoga once pregnancy is over, we’ll see…