Whatever your fitness level, you’ll find that a trip to the gym will surely boost your spirits and self-esteem. And, as the research shows, it very well may help you with your upcoming labor and delivery.
To begin Your goal is to do 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps for each exercise. Unlike strength-training programs for nonpregnant women, you aren’t trying to exercise to the point of fatigue. Instead, use the suggested weight ranges to determine what amount of weight will challenge you without getting you to the point of exhaustion or sacrificing form.
Progression tips Your goal is not to get stronger as much as it is to continue exercising throughout your pregnancy. Because of fatigue and your changing shape, you’ll probably want to either decrease the amount of weight you use as your pregnancy progresses and/or decrease to 1 or 2 sets for each workout. However you change the weights or sets, maintain at least 8 reps for each exercise.
Warm-up Do some low-impact cardio exercise for 8–l0 minutes before you strength-train. You can walk on a treadmill or a track, pedal at a low intensity on a recumbent bike, or use an elliptical trainer with little or no resistance.
Cool-down Finish your workout by stretching major muscle groups: thighs, calves, back, chest and shoulders. Hold each stretch to mild tension for 20–40 seconds without bouncing. Rest a few minutes to let your body relax before you leave the gym.
Frequency Try to follow this program 2–3 times per week, with a day off between each workout to rest.
1. SEATED CABLE ROWS Sit on a low cable pulley machine with a long, straight bar attached, feet on the foot plate, knees slightly bent. Lean forward from the hips and grasp the bar with an overhand grip; sit upright until arms are straight but not locked [A]. Squeeze shoulder blades together, bending elbows back until bar almost touches lower chest [B]. Keep an upright position throughout. Return to starting position without leaning forward and do reps. Strengthens upper back and rear shoulders. Suggested weight range: 30–60 pounds.
pay attention Don’t rock as you move the weight. Squeeze shoulder blades first; then pull back to avoid having your biceps do the work.
2. INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS Sit on an incline bench adjusted to a 45-degree angle, feet flat on a footrest, knees separated. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms extended above midchest, palms facing forward [A]. Contract shoulder blades and keep back against bench; then bend elbows to a 90-degree position [B]. Straighten arms, pressing dumbbells up to starting position. Strengthens chest, front shoulders and triceps. Suggested weight range: 5–12 pounds in each hand.