Training in the first trimester of pregnancy

First trimester pregnancy. Beautiful hike

What should you change in your training from the first trimester?

So you have just found out you are pregnant, whether that is earlier or later towards the 12 week mark. You normally go to the gym fairly regularly… what now? Training in and from the first trimester does not have to be daunting.

There is so much conflicting information around training while you are pregnant. We have been told for years to avoid heavy lifting, avoid over exerting yourself and don’t even think about getting out of breath that there is often fear surrounding training and exercise when pregnant. The good news is, a lot of the information is now very out of date and there is far more scientific research backing the positives of exercising while pregnant.

So, what does this mean for you?

In simple terms, the rule i get my clients to stick to is if you were doing it before you can carry on doing it now, as long as you feel good and happy doing so. If it doesn’t feel right, then listen to your body. Now is not the time to start taking up running or heavy weight lifting. You can start walking, bodyweight work and lightweight resistance training if you weren’t before.

As you head into the second trimester, this is when things start to change a little more regarding what is advised and not advised to do. However a lot of this is down to you and your body and how you feel.

The NHS guidelines state getting around 150mins of exercise in a week. This is considered anything from walking to strength training. By just doing half an hours walk a day, you will be hitting this target and feeling the benefits. However you can do more as long as you feel able to.

What if I don’t feel like exercising?

There are many daunting things about pregnancy and growing a baby that can feel overwhelming. If you are unable to or don’t feel up to exercise then don’t stress about it. Do as much as you feel capable of. During my first trimester I had horrendous sickness and nausea and didn’t do any resistance training in 9 weeks, I also didn’t manage many dog walks either. Some days I only managed to move from the sofa to the bed. Do not stress. As soon as i felt up to it, I added in shorter, easier sessions and worked to a level I was happy with. I am now at 37 weeks, managing 3 or 4 half hour sessions each week and an hours dog walk everyday so those 9 weeks really didn’t impact me at all.

Are there any easy tips to follow for training during pregnancy?

  • Listen to your body. Only you know how you feel and how an exercise feels. If it doesn’t feel right, regress or move on
  • Always try and maintain a comfortable talking level. If you are struggling to breathe through exertion, take a longer rest period and get that back under control. It used to be advised to monitor heart rate but that is very inaccurate so following the talk test rule is a really easy way of monitoring whether you need to reign it in a little bit.
  • Start thinking about ways in which your training will help you through pregnancy and beyond. I like my clients to have more of a focus on posterior chain (Back and glutes etc) to support them as the demands of growing a bump increase.
  • Start thinking about taking crunches etc out of your workouts and instead incorporate moves like pallof press to work your core in a pregnancy safe way. This will be good practice for not putting extra pressure through your midline.
  • Breath work. Get in the habit now for using your breathing to control through your core as you work through moves. For example breathing out as you come to stand from the lowest point of a squat. This is a great way to prevent doming through your tummy and keep the pressure low through the mid line.
  • If you are unsure, ask for help. Contact a trained personal trainer or a physio etc for some guidance and help on what you should and shouldn’t be doing. 

So to sum up everything above, get yourself moving in any way that feels great for you especially in the first trimester when nothing may feel great. Not only will your changing body thank you, you will feel the mental benefits too. 

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