Basic Guidelines and Principles for Strength Training for Pregnant Women

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is not meant to replace the advice and recommendations of your doctor and/or midwife. Please consult your caregiver before beginning any exercise program.

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Women possessing any of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) contraindications for aerobic exercise during pregnancy should not participate in strength training.

Women who have never participated in a strength training program should not initiate one during pregnancy.

No ballistic movements should be employed during pregnancy. Pregnant women experience joint and connective tissue laxity, raising their susceptibility for injury while performing resistance exercises.

Women should be encouraged to breathe normally during strength training. Oxygen delivery to the placenta may be reduced during any act of breath-holding (i.e., the performance of a Valsalva maneuver).

Maximal lifts and heavy resistances should be avoided, especially after the first trimester when increasing amounts of the hormone relaxin are present. Since relaxin increases tissue laxity, the performance of heavy lifts later in pregnancy may increase the risk of injury to the joints, connective tissue and skeletal structures of an expectant woman. An exercise set consisting of resistance level is not too great during any particular strength exercise.

A strength-training workout consisting of a single set of a series of exercises, collectively involving all of the major muscle groups, should be performed two times per week.

As a training effect occurs, it is recommended that overload be achieved initially by increasing the number of repetitions and , subsequently, by increasing the amount of resistance.

Strength training on machines is generally preferred to using free weights since machines tend to require less skill and can be more easily controlled.

If a particular strength exercise produces pain or discomfort, it should be discontinued and an alternative exercise should be performed.

A pregnant woman should immediately consult her physician if any of the following warning signs or complications appear: vaginal bleeding,, abdominal pain or cramping, ruptured membranes, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, or lack of fetal movement.

Authorities on the subject, however are quick to point out that strength training is not advisable for all pregnant women. Available research suggests that these recommendations mentioned are appropriate. Until more data are available, each pregnant for advice. In addition, training prescriptions for pregnant women who choose to strength train should be individualized.

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