The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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All levels welcome
Even if you’ve never lifted more than a can of soup, you can still do the every-other-day weight-training routine. If you didn’t lift weights for at least two months before your pregnancy, however, don’t start until you have your physician’s approval and you’ve read the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines, http://www.fitpregnancy.com/yourpregnancy/450.
The routine is also challenging enough for experienced lifters to maintain their muscle strength, with modifications for each trimester to accommodate your expanding belly and shifting center of gravity. “No matter what your level of experience, always listen to your body, and don’t do exercises that feel uncomfortable,” urges Blake (see “When Your Body Says ‘Stop!’” at right).
The exercises work major muscle groups in the arms, shoulders and especially the back. “Strong back muscles help reduce the backaches that come with your expanding belly,” she says. Of course, strong arms and shoulders will be a boon after baby arrives.
Blake, the mother of a 6-month-old girl, taught regular step aerobics and strength trained until the last week of her own pregnancy. “There were days I didn’t want to work out, but I was the instructor, so I had to! When each class was over, I was always glad I did it because I felt so good,” she says. Blake’s pregnancy also gave her a new perspective on the B-fit program she helped create. “Now the program design makes so much sense,” she says. “I also realize that being fit gave me the stamina to make it through labor and delivery, and has helped me recover from more sleepless nights than I can count.”
Reibel echoes Blake’s sentiment. “I’m so thankful I lifted weights right up until the day before my daughter was born,” she says. “Alex weighed 10 pounds at birth, and I don’t know how I’d be able to carry her around all day if I weren’t as strong as I am.”
The program This weight-training program can be done during all 3 trimesters. If you’ve never weight trained, get your physician’s approval. The exercises require gym machines, but an alternative is listed with every caption. Accompanying the strength program is a stationary biking program. You also should do abdominal exercises and Kegels (see below) daily.
Frequency Do this weight routine 2 or 3 times a week, with a day of rest between each workout. Also do at least 3 weekly cardio workouts of 20–30 minutes each.