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Weight Training: Pre, During, and Post-Pregnancy

Doctors, as well as exercise professionals, always recommend a workout routine to be performed throughout your pregnancy if you have been consistently training. It is not recommended to start something brand new, or introduce a new stimulus if you have not had previous experience prior to becoming pregnant. If you are unsure how you will react because you have never attempted before, then it is recommended to wait until post-pregnancy.

 

Overall Benefits of Weight Training

Before we get started, below are some basic benefits surrounding weight training and why I believe it is the most superior method towards improving a healthy composition:

 

  • Applying weight/resistance creates a new stimulus on your muscle fibers, which are the filaments that make up your muscles. This new stimulus e. weight, forces the muscle fibers to adapt by growing in size to compensate for the load. Overtime with effort, commitment, proper nutrition, and intensity, your muscles will start to grow.

 

  • Not only do bigger muscles make you stronger, but they also contribute to creating a healthier body composition. As muscles get bigger, your overall lean muscle mass in your body starts to improve. It is ideal to have a high lean muscle mass, and a lower body fat percentage, as this combination creates that toned appearance most women (and men) strive for.

 

  • Bigger muscles come at a nice cost, because muscle takes a ton of energy (calories) not only to build, but also to maintain and keep. It is hard to build and it will be the first thing your body will take from if calories (especially lean sources of protein) drop too low. So here is some amazing news…the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism burns e. calories torch while working, sleeping, sitting, eating, essentially everyday living. The more calories burned, the more body fat is melted away.

 

  • On top of a healthier, stronger physique with less body fat and more tone…weight training helps counteract the deteriorating effect of osteoporosis, a disease in the aging population where bone density starts to become a problem. Weight training can keep your bones thicker and stronger for longer.

 

  • Another amazing benefit that comes with a higher lean muscle mass, is the hormonal stabilization and sleep benefits you will receive. Weight training will help reduce bad estrogens floating in your body which can cause bloating, water retention, stubborn body fat, as well as cysts. Exercising with resistance will help stabilize your thyroid, and can help avoid weight gain due to hormonal imbalances during/post-pregnancy, as well as ageing.

 

 

Pre-Pregnancy Training

  • This is your time to shine, the calm before the storm. I recommend preparing your body for pregnancy by packing on as much lean muscle mass as possible. Improving your overall composition, e. what you are made of, is going to be your secret weapon to not only maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy, but it will help you rebound post-pregnancy.

 

  • A high percentage of body fat will disrupt our delicate hormonal balance, and disrupting this homeostasis could affect not only your chances of becoming pregnant, but could increase your chance for problems during your pregnancy. Keeping your body fat % around 21-25% is healthy, but also keeping lean muscle mass high does incredible things for your overall hormone function. A healthy functioning endocrine system is critical when trying to get pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant. Anything that can help improve this, should be diligently paid attention to and applied.

 

  • Gestational diabetes is a very real threat, and sometimes it affects even the healthiest of individuals. By increasing more lean muscle in your body, and decreasing body fat via weight training and cardio, you will help improve insulin and carb resistance in your body. By increasing your carb resiliency, you may be able to avoid gestational diabetes.

 

  • If you are unsure of where to start, I recommend the following:
    1. Weight Train 4x per week: train a different body part each day you train. For example: Day 1-Back/Biceps, Day 2– Chest/Triceps, Day 3-Shoulders/Abs, Day 4-Legs/Butt.
    2. Cardio 5x per week: 3x of these sessions can be 25 minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) with 2 minutes harder pace and then 1 minute easy pace. The other 2x can be 30 minutes at an even pace with an elevated heart rate, e. a brisk walk on a treadmill or outside, swimming, stair master, biking.
    3. Recommended: place your emphasis on creating a strong upper body and core, a full back workout and a chest workout per week, as well as special focus on glute training. This will help keep your posture strong throughout pregnancy and beyond, preventing further complications in misalignment down the road.

 

  • Remember, capitalize on BUILDING a strong base while you are thinking of becoming pregnant. While you are carrying precious cargo, training intensity may have to decrease significantly and you will not be able to stimulate the muscle fibers enough to build new muscle. During pregnancy, you will be more focused on maintaining the muscle you have built, and eating well for your baby.

 

 

 

 

 

Training While Pregnant

  • Now is not a good time to start a new exercise program. If you have been inactive for the majority of your life, then starting something brand new during your pregnancy is not encouraged or supported by health care professionals. However, walking to keep yourself active is always encouraged and will do no harm.

 

  • If you have been following a workout program before becoming pregnant, then try your absolute best to keep following it. However, morning sickness may inhibit this, so as much as you have the will, your future mini-me might keep training at bay.

 

  • 1-3 Months:
    • There may be good and bad days. I would recommend cutting some of your training parameters in half (i.e. reps, sets, weight, time), and feel it out.
    • This may mean going from 45 mins cardio to 20 mins, or 50lbs to 25lbs. If you feel great, then keep it up! If you feel light headed and different than you did pre-pregnancy, you may not be able to match the same volume and intensity as you could previously. Don’t sweat (pun intended), do what you can and keep your heart and lungs healthy.

 

  • 3-9 Months:
    • Heart rate recommendations used to bekeep it around 140 beats per minute, but now health care professionals are loosening up on these types of conditions.
    • If you feel well enough to lift weights, then by all means lift them. However, I would recommend sticking to machines, versus free weights and barbells. Free weights and power lifts may put your spine in unfavourable conditions as your belly grows, so keeping form stable by avoiding anything free range is recommended.
    • Participate in the same type of weight training you did previously 3-4x per week, and walking 5x per week at a quick enough pace to keep a conversation, without being completely out of breath.
    • It is important as you grow that you listen to your body, and realize for a few short months you may be severely limited in what you could previously do. Do what is comfortable as your pregnancy goes on, and adjust your activity based on your physical capabilities at the time.
    • Overall, don’t be afraid to continue working out as it is proven to be beneficial to not only your baby, but it may help give you an easier time throughout all stages of pregnancy.

 

Post-Pregnancy Training

  • It’s probably an insane asylum in your house right now and that’s totally understandable. But don’t forget, your baby exists because of you, and if you are not healthy or taking care of yourself, then that will indirectly affect the well-being of your child. It is easy to become extremely selfless when raising children, but do not let time for yourself (or as a couple), slip away. Providing yourself with self-care and self-love will only benefit your children and family as a whole.

 

  • More exercise and a diet that involves clean, low ingredient, real foods, will provide a lot more energy in your days. A healthier body means healthier hormone function, and this will translate into your sleep patterns as well. When you do get the chance to sleep, your sleep quality will be a lot more optimal and high quality sleep is extremely important during this stage when the quantity is lacking. Help your body, help you, don’t just rely on stimulants like caffeine to fuel your day. You can repair your energy stores from the inside out by exercising and consuming high quality foods with minimal processing, low in harmful fats such as trans and saturated fats, and low in sugar.

 

  • Countless studies prove that if children see their parents putting time into their own health and physical activity, they absorb this like a sponge and will naturally and intrinsically have a strong sense of their health and well-being for life. As they grow, they will naturally opt for a healthier choices more often, you won’t have as hard a time getting them active throughout their life, and they will have deeper understanding of what living a healthy and balanced life means. Take advantage of this time, showing them exercise is not a chore, but rather a necessary part of being a human being on this Earth.

 

  • Lack of time, energy, and help are going to be the biggest limitations in your health and fitness. But trust me, the laundry can wait and the dishes can sit in the sink forever…your heart on the other hand is a ticking clock that needs TLC.

 

  • Set up schedules in your children’s day that are routine “fitness time”, for example, 7:00-7:20am silly YouTube dance video or body weight workout. Your kids will soak this up, and watch as they swell with pride and tell everyone their mommy and daddy workout. Kids absolutely love it, if you’ve never shown them a reason to hate it.

 

  • As for yourself, start weight training 2-3x per week and work on improving your muscle to body fat ratio. Remember, the more muscle mass you have on your body the faster your metabolic rate becomes and the more body fat you burn. Doing this consistently over 3-4 month period, you will eventually have a stronger ratio of muscle to body fat, therefore creating a toned appearance.

 

  • Again, focus on the back, chest, and glute muscles to reconnect proper posture after pregnancy.

 

Nutrition to Support Muscle Gain

  • Eating enough protein is your biggest ally on your quest to pack on more muscle. Protein breaks down into amino acids in our bodies, just like carbs break down into sugars, and fats break down into fatty acids. Protein, is the only macronutrient that actually builds new muscle fiber, because amino acids is what creates and builds new muscle. Without enough lean protein in your overall caloric intake, you will not be able to build muscle.

 

  • It is estimated that humans should consume 1-1.5g protein per lb. of lean muscle mass. Everyone needs a different amount of protein in their day to fit their needs. This is largely dependent on activity levels, as well as current lean muscle mass and body fat % ratio. However, 100g total lean protein per day should be the minimum ingested to not only BUILD new muscle, but to keep muscle.

 

  • The funny thing about proper nutrition, is of course for the most part, everyone “knows” what’s healthy to eat or what’s not. The kicker is actually applying this knowledge into our daily lives, day in, and day out. This does not simply come down to what we know, or do not know, this comes down to how organized you are and how prepared you are.

 

  • I have seen it countless of times within my career, the number one diet killer is lack of organization. If you are not organized and do not have healthy food ready and at your fingertips, the first thing you crave when you are hungry is carbs. From here it’s a slippery slope of quick fixes, empty calories, snacky junk foods, ordering in, eating out, or simply not eating at all!

 

  • The first thing I would recommend doing is setting up a prep schedule. I recommend 2x per week, cook your protein and carbs you have chosen for the weeks ahead and cook in big batches. Get creative with how you prepare your food week by week, pick a country from around the World and have a themed week, FUN! Label with the date the day it was made, and keep it in the fridge in glass containers (preferably glass). Grab a bowl when you are hungry, or your Tupperware when you need to pack a cooler for your work/errands day. Dish out your batches and empty your protein/carb/vegetable into your bowl. Heat it up and away you go.

 

  • How can you fit 100g TOTAL protein into your day?
    • *Pick 4 different protein sources from the list below, have 4 meals per day, 3 hours apart, paired with a vegetable and 70g wholesome carb (rice, potato, sweet potato, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, slice of bread, gluten free bagel):
      • 3.5oz chicken breast with salad and rice
      • 3.5oz extra lean ground turkey
      • 3oz salmon
      • 3oz extra lean ground beef
      • 3.5oz white fish
      • 1 isolate protein scoop
      • 3oz flank steak
      • 3/4C egg whites

 

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