Should I still lift heavy whilst pregnant?
This is a question that a lot of new mothers ask as there is a myriad of misinformation out there about what your threshold, intensity and program should be like once you find out you are expecting! It is also a question best answered specifically to YOU as there are a lot of variables to take into consideration, HOWEVER- there is some best advice and guidelines out there, so lets look at the facts!
Your musculoskeletal system goes through a lot of change during pregnancy and so if you were a regular lifter before, and have been cleared to continue exercising, you will need to;
a) Adjust intensity down once you find out you're pregnant and then make a further adjustment down each trimester
b) Modify your exercise selection- very specific adaptations will be needed for safety of you and your baby as you go through your trimesters
If you were NOT a regular lifter before then you should;
a) Talk to your healthcare professional or a trained pre/post natal fitness specialist before taking on any new regime
b) Start with healthy habits and be guided by a professional with some light exercises specifically for pregnancy
So why do we need to adjust once we are pregnant?
As you go through pregnancy your centre of gravity shifts forward- this has some effects such as; your balance and stability may be off and there may be some postural issues and upper/lower back pain, so you may want to add in some extra support or assistance through exercises. The hormone relaxin is also present in your body right from trimester 1. This hormones relaxes the joints to prepare your body for childbirth, however it also makes the body extra hyper-mobile which can lead to injury if unsupported.
So if you're a regular lifter and you've modified your exercises, what should your intensity be?
As with everything, YOUR body is unique to you, as is your experience, however a good guideline to follow would be to consult a pre-natal specialist trainer, and ensure you are working to no more than 70% of your max in Trimester 1, up to 60% in trimester 2, and no more than 50% by trimester 3. If in doubt, be sure to get professional advice. Pregnancy is not the time to push yourself to the limits, but to maintain and get into some good healthy routines. If in doubt, just ask! :)