Mother and Baby

The Pregnant Girl's Guide To The Gym

A bump’s no excuse to skip exercise – but it is a reason to give your gym routine a pregnancy makeover

If you’re more of a sofa than a squats sort of girl, best to look away now. But if the gym’s your thing and you want to carry on with a bump, it’s totally do-able. It’s just a case of making tweaks, building up gradually and getting advice. Starting here…

Find your comfort zone

You may have always been a gym bunny, but a couple of adjustments to your general workout habits won’t go amiss. ‘You may feel more tired than before, so allow yourself extra and longer breaks,’ says personal trainer Phil Curtis.

And as well as the obvious water and light clothing, let your gym instructor or manager know you’re pregnant in case you need help.

Talk to the professionals

If you’re not sure how to adapt your routine, ask a prenatal instructor for ideas or join an antenatal class – even if you only go once, you can still get some tips.

‘Most gyms also offer a review of how you’re doing every six weeks or so,’ says Phil. ‘Many members don’t actually take this up, but it’s a great way to see how you’re getting on, especially as your pregnancy progresses.’

Be workout smart

Experts agree that if you’ve already been doing a type of workout, there’s no harm in carrying it on (albeit with the odd tweak) in pregnancy. But if you want to take up something new, get advice and approach it gently – it’s just another thing for your body to handle.

Experts agree that if you’ve already been doing a type of workout, there’s no harm in carrying it on in pregnancy

‘Certain moves aren’t always best for mums-to-be, including sit-ups and crunches,’ says Phil. ‘They put pressure on your spine and don’t really doing anything for your core or back strength, which are areas you want to protect right now.’

Interval train for labour

You know that whole giving-birth thing you have coming up? An interval-based workout can help your body get ready for it.

‘This is basically short bursts of any type of exercise – so cross trainer, bike, treadmill and co – followed by recovery periods,’ says Phil. ‘It’s similar to how labour works, which is why training in that way can help you prepare.’

And don’t forget to bring in some of those pelvic floor moves. And squeeze…

Understand weights

Weights are fine but, as with anything, what you do may need taking back a notch – especially as you get bigger and your balance may be affected. Also don’t head straight for the benches if you’ve never done a weight in your life or aren’t sure what you’re doing.

‘The moves you do with weights could also need more support, so if you’re struggling with squats, perhaps take it back a stage and use the leg press,’ says Phil.

And those pesky hormones get involved, too. ‘Relaxin softens your joints to help prepare your body for labour but, in doing this, it makes them less stable,’ explains Phil. ‘So, be wary of moves like lunges which put pressure on your hip joints because they’re going in different directions.’

Extend your cool down

This goes for your warm up, too – so about 10 minutes for each. ‘Because of everything else your body is coping with, it just takes that bit longer to get ready for exercise and then cool you down afterwards,’ says Phil.

Also, give the steam room a miss. ‘Your pregnant body is actually amazing at dispersing and getting rid of heat that it creates, so when you’re working out for example,’ says Phil. ‘But, in a hot atmosphere, it has nowhere to get rid of this heat, so you may feel unwell or faint.’

What are your pregnancy gym tips? Let us know on the comments board below.


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