By Chaundra Tangi
I competed as an IFBB Figure Pro since its inaugural year in 2001 and I’ve been personal training since 1999. As a natural competitor my form of training has always been heavy and intense in the weight room. I was born with only one kidney, so I’ve had to work twice as hard to gain and maintain the muscle. That being said, since I’ve always trained hard I was able to train similarly during pregnancy. In fact, in many exercises I was capable of lifting the same amount of weight as I did pre-pregnancy. Keep in mind that while every body is different, the most important thing is that we LISTEN to our bodies and know that pregnancy is not the time to start something new.
According to www.whattoexpect.com, exercise does not increase the risk for miscarriage in a normal low risk pregnancy. In fact, weight training strengthens and tones your muscles and helps you build stamina, which you’ll need during labor and delivery. I was determined to have the healthiest, safest, most fit pregnancy as possible. I committed myself to staying in shape and leading other women by example year round.
Aside from always listening to our bodies, there are a few “steeple” guidelines that must be followed during pregnancy:
• Never exercise to exhaustion or breathlessness. This is a sign that your baby and your body cannot get the oxygen supply they need.
• During the second and third trimesters, avoid exercise that involves lying flat on your back as this decreases blood flow to the uterus.
• Keep a loose grip during ALL exercises as a tight grip will increase blood pressure.
• Take frequent breaks, and drink plenty of fluids during exercise.
I would always start the week with the larger body parts so if I became tired toward the end of the week, I’ll have already hit the main muscle groups. Additionally, always start with LEGS because Hamstrings (back of the thigh) and Gluteal (buttocks) are two of the main body parts that naturally weaken during pregnancy. During all exercise, we must keep the spine neutral and engaged; Strength and power is developed during squats and free weight exercises.
Although I prefer training hard, I always emphasize FORM over resistance. As a professional athlete and trainer, my doctor always allowed me to use my discretion according to how I feel. Therefore, pregnant women should always consult their physician before continuing heavy training.
I’m now a mom to 2 amazing kids…..but I’ll always treasure the experience of pregnancy. If you have any questions about structuring a training program during pregnancy, use my contact info (above) and send me a note!