DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by ProNatal Fitness. It is authored by the founder, and is intended to educate you new moms, or about-to-become moms on how to get strong for pregnancy and beyond.
There is certainly no shortage of myths when it comes to the DOs and DON’Ts of working out. We hear them all the time. But nowhere is that truer than when it comes to working out for two. The myths abound about pregnant moms and working out. Sure, you may know that exercise during pregnancy is good for you (and your little one!). It is often figuring out WHAT to do for a workout that ends up being more of an exercise in frustration than anything else. Here, we dispel 3 of the biggest myths to get help you feel more confident in your ability to exercise for two (or more!).
“Take it Easy” to avoid risk of injury
Ironically, this outdated advice is actually causing more pain and injuries. Why? Because (newsflash) the motherhood journey places a tremendous amount of stress on the body. If we want to avoid pain and injury, our bodies need to be strong enough to manage those stresses.
Pregnancy alone takes a toll on the body – from the increased 30+lbs of weight to manage, to the alignment shifts, to the increased intra-abdominal pressure and decreased stability.
And then…there’s childbirth. Managing through the intervals of contractions can last several hours! By the end, it is about 100X more intense than the toughest HIIT class you’ve taken. GULP.
Then after all this comes the “fun” of pushing the watermelon out of the pea-size hole. Finally, after your body has endured all that, comes the 24/7 physical demands of carrying for an infant – squatting, lifting, pushing, pulling, getting up and down from the ground, carrying…and carrying…and carrying (all with an adorable weight that continues to get heavier).
Motherhood is Life’s Ultimate Marathon.
Motherhood is truly life’s “ultimate marathon,” yet we don’t often view training for it in that manner. We probably wouldn’t think that the best approach to training for our first marathon would be to rest and do nothing in order to avoid getting injured before the event, right? The same goes for pregnancy. This is a major athletic event (physically and mentally), so let’s begin preparing our bodies for it accordingly. Then, we can focus more on enjoying the thrill of it all.
How do we prepare our bodies? Well, let’s start busting these other two myths…
Avoid All Core Work
While there are certainly core moves that should be avoided, this blanket statement could not be further from the truth. In fact, your core is actually the MOST important area to focus on. That said, it’s not in the way we’re used to doing in traditional exercise (we’re NOT talking sit-ups or planks here!). Instead, we want to focus on the deepest core muscles. These are the muscles pictured below that we at PROnatal Fitness refer to as the “Core Canister.”
When the Core Canister muscles are strong and functioning properly, they help prevent pregnancy pains and injuries (especially diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction), enable you to push your baby out better, expedite your postpartum recovery, and even create a healthier growth environment for your little one by increasing oxygen and nutrients to the placenta.
Learn how to BREATHE, sister.
So how do you “train” these muscles? It all comes down to the way you breathe. Seriously. Breathing properly “activates” the core canister muscles to help you reap all the benefits above. What is breathing properly? It’s breathing in a manner we call 360° Breathing. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. If you can train yourself to breathe in this manner, that’s over 20,000 reps per day of the best core exercise there is.
Avoid Heavy Lifting
Similar to #1, women have traditionally been told to decrease their weights (or avoid lifting altogether) during pregnancy to minimize the risk of injury. However, this leads to a little “strength-to-weight” problem that is best illustrated by the graph below.
While not a sophisticated graph by any means, it illustrates a trend. As a woman’s pregnancy progresses, she will gain weight. If she follows the conventional guidelines of continuously reducing her loads (or not lifting at all), then she will gradually get weaker (because muscles need to be “stressed” in order to grow stronger). Therefore, by the end of her pregnancy, when she is at her heaviest (carrying around an additional 25-35lbs or more of weight), she is also at her weakest.
Why you HAVE to get STRONG for your pregnancy.
This makes it more difficult to maneuver through life in general (even getting up and down from the couch), and also makes her more susceptible to injury. This therefore illustrates the importance of strength training during pregnancy, but we must do it smartly – beginning with mastering the fundamentals of neutral alignment and deep core activation first. From there, we work on mastering proper movement quality (unloaded first), then gradually progressing. Some of the moves we love incorporating are the activities you do day in and day out as a mom, like these motherhood moves. You’ll eventually have to do these movements when exhausted from labor and carrying a newborn (and eventually a heavy toddler!), so it’s good to prepare your body for them now.
Want more info? Download the PROnatal Fitness FREE E-Guides! If you’re a mom or mom-to-be, check out our 5 Prenatal Exercise Myths and 5 Postpartum Training Mistakes. If you’re a fitness professional, check out our Top 5 Mistakes Made When Training Pregnant Women.
Our Guest Author today is Brittany Citron:
Brittany Citron is a former marketing executive turned fitness entrepreneur, and the founder of PROnatal Fitness – a company dedicated to helping women train better for the ultimate athletic event of motherhood. Through its primary focus on professional education, PROnatal Fitness aims to help women build the strength necessary to successfully conquer each and every physical challenge along their motherhood journey, so they can focus on enjoying the thrill of it all.