Pregnancy Fitness: 1st Trimester Strength Training

I’ve been really lucky to be able to write some informative blogs for the children’s shop Kiddicare. I love this shop and brought most of Lacie’s baby clothing, furniture and pram from here, so its a real honour to be writing for them.
Basically all my blogs are about how to exercise safely through pregnancy. I am going to share all these blogs with you over the next few weeks so all you beautiful pregnant ladies feel confident to carry on exercising. Here’s my second blog – ‘How to Strength Train Safely during your First Trimester’.
As always please drop me an email or message me if you need a hand or have any queries….

Strength training in the first trimester will help you to manage exertion levels later on in your pregnancy, when things feel harder due to increased weight yet decreased energy levels.

Resistance and stretching helps to prevent injury when the pressure on your joints increases and the hormone relaxin kicks in, which we’ll explain more about in our 2nd trimester posts (levels of relaxin tends to surge in the second trimester – around the 12 week mark.) It also takes a lot of muscle and stamina to deliver a baby; so the stronger you are now, the better.

I have designed this mini workout to help strengthen all the key muscles that you will need for a strong and healthy pregnancy, while keeping the intensity down. You can do most of these moves at home or at a gym with minimal equipment – just make sure you’re never out of breath or holding your breath, as this can elevate your blood pressure and starve your body of oxygen, which isn’t safe.

Keep the reps slow too, to elongate your muscles and build strength, rather than quick jerky movements that will cause injury, and always go at your own pace and stay hydrated.

The Workout…

Prisoner Squats
Reps 12
Sets 3
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your fingers on the back of your head, pulling your elbows and shoulders back and sticking your chest out.
Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees, keeping your torso upright and your core tight. Pause, and then slowly push through your heels back to the starting position.

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Upright Row
Reps 12
Sets 3
Grab a pair of light dumbbells or tin cans, and let them hang down at arm’s length in front of your waist.
Leading with your elbows, pull the weights up to your chin, making sure your elbows are higher than your wrists and shoulders.
Pause, and then slowly return the weights to the starting position

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Step up with balance
Reps 10 each leg
Sets 2
Place a step in front of you and step up with your left foot, bringing your right leg forward and up and bending your knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor.
Balance for a few seconds then lower your right leg back to start, then the left. Do all 10 reps on your left leg, before repeating on your right.

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Back Rows
Reps 12
Sets 3
Hold a pair of light dumbbells or tin cans with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
Gently bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Your knees should be slightly bent and your lower back naturally arched.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the dumbbells up to the sides of your torso.
Pause, then return to the starting position.

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Work your core – Cat and Cow
Reps 12
Sets 2
Get down on hands and knees in a tabletop position.
Look up, and stretch the front of your body as you inhale (Cow), then slowly round your back and look down as you exhale, being careful not to engage your abs (Cat).

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Stretch it out – Child’s Pose
Hold for 10-15 seconds
Sit on the floor with knees wide apart and resting on the floor. Bend forward, walk your hands forward then rest your forehead and hands on the floor as you breathe calmly and deeply.

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Remember!

As always, make sure you get the go-ahead from your doctor before you start exercising and listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right then stop. Make sure you are also fully hydrated and that your exercise in cool and comfortable conditions.

You’re still in your first trimester so the baby shopping hasn’t yet begun in earnest but you can still start thinking about the bigger ticket items like your pushchair, car seat and nursery. Exciting isn’t it?!

Thank you to Nike for the kit and Nuffield Health, Bromley for shoot location.

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Exercising during your First Trimester – 0-12 weeks

Finding out I was pregnant was one of the happiest days of my life. But deep down I wasn’t looking forward to expanding. My body is my work and I sort of felt like I’d be losing my identity. I’m a real gym bunny!

I wasn’t going to be silly though and restrict my calories or go mad in the gym. A healthy bump equals a healthy baby after all.

I popped into see Gideon at KX gym, who gave me a safe exercise programme to follow (I will share this in a later post). It was here that I also decided I wanted to do my pre-natal exercise course too. If I was going to carry on working out then I wanted to know that I was doing it safely & effectively.

During the first trimester lots of changes are happening.

Firstly, your blood vessels increase dramatically but there isn’t enough blood to fill them, which causes something called Vascular Underfill. This is why people tend to feel sick, dizzy and tired. Their blood pressure will also drop.

I also noticed that my heart rate was high. I always wear my Polar FT60 when working out and straight away noticed that my HR was 10-15 Beats per minute higher than normal. This is basically to accommodate the bigger blood vessels, which don’t have enough blood in them so your heart has to work extra hard to pump this blood through these expanded vessels.

Don’t worry there are some benefits! The excess progesterone pumping through the body is said to improve lung function! You may feel you are over-breathing though. I noticed this in the simplest of tasks like walking up the stairs. I felt so unfit! Don’t worry, you aren’t, it’s just your body adjusting.

Lastly increased insulin resistance (when your body’s cells cannot take in glucose so it ends up circulating round the blood stream and causes fat storage) can result in excess fat storage but as pregnant women we know and expect this. During the whole pregnancy you’re going to put on around 24 – 33 pounds, so there’s no hiding from weight gain!

So there you have it. These are all the things you need to look out for and be aware of when exercising during the First Trimester.

One other thing that is absolutely vital is that you make sure you don’t overheat when exercising. It can damage the baby and cause abnormalities.

I was so lucky that  I only had the odd day of extreme tiredness and sickness so didn’t miss too many sessions. Most importantIy I DID listen to my body and sleep in when I needed to or just stay at home and have a big nutritious breakfast. That is the secret when pregnant. You need to listen to what your body and baby is telling you and go with it.

Pregnancy most certainly isn’t the time to reach peak fitness or break records, it’s literally for maintaining what you already have and making your pregnancy and birth that little but easier.

Please contact me if you have any questions or need some advice – I’ve been through this trimester and come through the other side so will happily help others who need some support or advice.

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* Thank you to Premier Training International for allowing me to learn all about Pre & Post-natal exercise through their Award in Designing Pre & Post natal exercise programs course