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Monday, May 24, 2010

Exercise and Pregnancy: Part IV

This is the fourth post in a series. The series is dedicated to exercising while pregnant, and there is a lot to know, so keep reading! Not pregnant? Share this series with someone who might be. But I warn you, if you are sharing this with your pregnant wife, TREAD CAREFULLY (she may take it the wrong way)!

Strength Training is a must for soon to be moms. Babies, car seats and strollers and laundry baskets all get heavy after repeated amounts of lifting (100 plus times per day!). Here are some tips to help you stay strong and meet the demands of motherhood.

Aim to work all of your major muscle groups twice per week, and work your opposing muscle groups (if you work triceps, work the biceps, etc.). This is the time to maintain your fitness level, not increase it, so lifting one set of weights, 10-12 repetitions is all you will need to do to receive the benefits. If that leaves you asking…how much weight should I lift? The answer is the amount of weight you can lift 10-12 times without muscle failure/complete exhaustion. This is a great time to use exerbands and exertubes.

Things to Avoid:

-Avoid maximal static lifts (lifting as much as you can), and do not hold your breath while you are lifting.
-Limit the supine position (laying on your back) after the first trimester to 30-60 second bouts and lie on the left side between sets. Excellent core exercises (the Sahrmann Series) are in the next post.

Specific Strength Training Exercises

Kegals : Many of the problems associated with pregnancy (urinary incontinence, bowel dysfunction, low back/pelvic pain) are actually a result of poor pelvic floor strength. The best way to increase pelvic floor strength is to begin Kegal exercises before labor and delivery.
· Contract the pelvic floor muscles and hold the contraction for 10 seconds. Release and repeat.
· Slowly contract the pelvic floor muscles progressively tighter to a count of 5 and then slowly release to a count of 5. If it is difficult to perform the contraction for 10 seconds, begin by holding it for 3-5 seconds. Slowly increase the length of isometric contraction as the muscles become stronger.
· The abdominal, buttock and thigh muscles should not contract or tense when performing the pelvic floor exercises.

Supermans: This exercise will help to strengthen your back and stomach muscles and help to alleviate low back pain. Place yourself on hands and knees on the floor. Extend your right arm and left leg simultaneously, while pulling your navel in and keeping your hips stationary. After one breath return to the start position and repeat on the opposite side (left arm, right leg). Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Worried about getting your tummy back after the baby is born? Get started before the baby is born with this next post in the pregnancy series!

Don't forget to leave a comment on the last post (Genetically Modified: Is it Safe?) for your chance to win Robyn O'Brien's The Unhealthy Truth!

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