Pregnancy & Lifting: The Strong Mom Series S14E2

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Anna Marie & Rebekah tackle pregnancy and lifting.

There’s lots of bad information and poor choices people can make in this arena. Recommendations generally used to be against any exercise during pregnancy. Luckily, it’s much more common and acceptable to exercise while pregnant. Modifications and listening to your body will help.

Anna Marie became pregnant after 4 years of consistent training. Anna Marie’s personality is one where she’ll push things too far and not back off when she should sometimes, whereas others may back off too much.

She deadlifted and squatted up until the middle of her last week, and used RPE to modify intensity when needed. One important note for her is that she had trained for 4 years consistently and is a coach, so she was well conditioned and in shape and knew how to make intelligent modifications when needed.

Some recommend against starting lifting when pregnant. While it depends on health, previous exercise and activity, and the stage of pregnancy, women can in fact begin training when pregnant, but things will need to be progressed more conservatively. The biggest thing for novices--and pregnant women in general--is managing stress.

When it comes to managing stress, consider that every pregnancy is different, so you don’t want to judge yourself against a previous pregnancy. You also don’t want to judge yourself against other women and their pregnancy: it’s ultimately about your body now. What are you capable of doing today?

Different lifts may prevent pain and discomfort for different people. Some common modifications that you may use include the following: high bar squats, bodyweight squats, rack pulls, feet up on bench press, seated press, tempo squat.

Modifying intensity will almost certainly be required. Some ideas for this are using RPE to modify the intensity if the lifts feel much harder than they should. Another is to prescribe tonnage. This keeps the total work and work capacity up, but allows the lifter to do more volume at lighter weights if needed as opposed to higher weights with less volume.

Expect ups and downs. It’s okay if you have to modify a lift or modify intensity or even skip or postpone a workout. This is definitely a place where having a coach helps, as people tend to either be too aggressive or too conservative with themselves.

Consistency matters more than anything else. If you train consistently, even at light weights, you will be physically better prepared for the birth and get stronger.

Following birth, don’t rush into training too quickly. Though you may see others return to training or exercise almost immediately after birth, beginning before you are ready can cause injuries and complications and ultimately prevent you from serious training and returning to your previous strength levels as fast as you would have it you had had a bit more patience following the birth. Listen to your body.

Getting back to training helps give many women a feeling of autonomy. Some women have feelings that--because they are supporting the fetus with their body--they lack bodily autonomy. Returning to training can help create a return to normality and bring this feeling of autonomy. Again, though, return conservatively, modify as necessary, and don’t progress too quickly. There is a good hormonal environment to train post-pregnancy but, again, beginning too quickly and too aggressively can ultimately create problems that prevent progress.

#strongmoms

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