Thursday, August 22, 2013

Strength Training Frustration

Total steps yesterday:  11,987
Exercise plans for today:  3 mile run, maybe a bike ride

So I am really frustrated with the resources available to pregnant women who want to weight-train.  I finally made it  back in to the gym for a strength workout yesterday, and it felt really good.  I mean, I'm sore today and need to push through that, but I know it will help me in the long run.

However, I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to research strength training during pregnancy, and to say that the information out there is incomplete / inconsistent would be a major understatement.  With few exceptions, I could find conflicting information on nearly every muscle group.  "You should never, ever do ab work" vs "ab work is essential and will help during labor".  "Squats will destroy your ligaments" vs. "squats will strength your ligaments".  And so on and so forth.  The only things that seemed to be universally agreed upon were:

1.  Don't do any move that could lead to you dropping a weight on your stomach.
2.  Don't do ab or other strength work where you lay directly on your back.
3.  Don't hold your breath and then forcefully exhale while lifting.
4.  Walking lunges = bad.  Standing lunges = good.

There were also weird statements that I just plain disagree with.  Many sites said that you should use weights between 5 lbs. and 12 lbs.  Um.  I was routinely doing presses with 25 lb. dumbbells before getting pregnant.  Regressing to 12 lbs. would do absolutely nothing to enhance my muscle develop.  Plus, my baby will (ideally) weigh more than that within a few weeks of  being born.  How does it make sense to not train to carry around the actual weight that I'll be carrying in six months?  What do they think will happen?  I'll shoulder press 20 lbs. and my baby will fall out?

The bulk of research related to exercise during pregnancy is focused around cardio, but I think it's time for that to change.  I believe many, many women would happily take part in a study of what's safe and what's not when strength training while pregnant.  Cardio is huge and I love running, so I'm glad there's a lot of consistent research and advice out there to keep that up during pregnancy.  But come on.  Labor will be the hardest thing that many women ever put their bodies through.  Wouldn't it help to know what you can do to strengthen your body for that adventure?

So many women are already unsure of themselves in the weight room.  Add in a bulging stomach and its an even more self-conscious experience.  Prenatal yoga classes are all the rage - why doesn't a prenatal strength training class exist?  I would sign up for that in a heartbeat, and I think other moms to be would to.  Maybe I'll pioneer that program with the bits and pieces of legitimate research I can pull together from the scattered information out there.

1 comment:

  1. All sounds very thought-provoking - I'm sorry you can't find more info. I'm sure someone would like to do a study for/with you.
    However, I don't want your baby falling out because you shouldered too much weight.
    In fact, I just plain don't want your baby falling out. Period.
    (as in . <period)