Training Pregnant: Good for You and the Baby

Jan 23, 2024

100 Year Athlete Book Club: ROAR, Chapter 4: Do You Need to Take a Pregnant Pause?

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Should you continue training while pregnant? Barring any serious complications, the short answer is yes according to Dr. Stacy Sims, author of ROAR: Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong Body for Life. In fact, exercising while pregnant is good for the baby (and mother). It supports placenta growth, organ development, and endocrine function while lowering the baby’s risk of childhood obesity and diabetes. 

That said, we live in Park City, Utah, where people huck cliffs and bomb rock gardens. So, slight qualifier: keep training in a safe way. Here’s what Dr. Sims recommends:    

The Basics

  • Get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week. 
  • Train at a 7/10 effort 
  • Resistance train twice per week. 

What to Moderate

  • Contact & Gravity Sports
    • Story time: when Ben’s wife was 8 weeks pregnant, she was traversing at Alta, caught a rock, ate it, started to slide down an icy slope, and managed to self-arrest just in time to prevent terminal velocity and a 1,000-foot slide. [Ben’s note: “Yeah, I shouldn't have taken her over there. That was my fault.”]
  • Running. Will running shake the baby? No. Just don’t bomb down a mountain.
  • Your expectations. Pregnancy isn’t the time to hit PRs or get extra sendy. As pregnancy progresses, it will be harder to use the diaphragm to bring in oxygen. You will gain weight, your ligaments will loosen, and your center of mass will shift. What feels like a 7/10 effort in the first trimester could be 10/10 in in the third trimester.

What to Avoid

  • A new endurance sport. By the second trimester, your ligaments and joints start to loosen. Doing a new, repetitive action with novice skills could create unnecessary joint problems.
  • Heavy exercises lying on your back. It compresses blood vessels that nourish the fetus. If you want to bench press, for example, switch to an incline bench press.
  • Valsalva. This is when you build intra-abdominal pressure by taking a breath, squeezing, and holding it. Experienced lifters often use this technique. 

Can exercise be too much of a good thing when pregnant? Sure, but everyone can overtrain, pregnant or not. Listen to your body.