Training Through Pregnancy and Beyond
The Lift Like A Mother Team is comprised of some amazing coaches, each bringing their own experience and style to the table. When I first met Robin, she told me her story of why she wanted to become a pre and postnatal coach and the short of it is that she wants to impact as many women as possible during one of the most vulnerable journeys they will experience.
Who better than Coach Robin to share some valuable knowledge about training through pregnancy and beyond!
LLAM: What exercises should you be doing while pregnant, and what exercises are off-limits?
Coach Robin: My favorite movements to coach pregnant clients through are the ones they will need most for motherhood. Exercises such as squats, hinges, pushing movements, pulling movements, and teaching how to do safe level changes, such as changing diapers on the ground and then getting back up to do the next activity. Regarding movements to avoid, as the baby grows and develops into the later stages of pregnancy, such as the second trimester, it is best to start avoiding your typical core exercise. One of my goals as a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist is to decrease Intra Abdominal pressure leading to an increased risk of Diastasis Recti, aka separation of the abdominal wall. Movements such as crunches, sit-ups, any rotations with dissociation with the hips are to be avoided. Planks can still be an option in the early stages of pregnancy but regressed once again when a belly starts to develop. You can regress your planks by adding inclines and doing side planks on your knees. A significant sign to realize if an exercise is not appropriate for you is to notice any coning or any protrusion out of the center of your abdomen.
LLAM: Is heart rate an accurate sign of exertion in pregnancy?
Coach Robin: During the second trimester, one of the many changes in a newly pregnant body is increased cardiac output. An Increased Cardiac Output means that birthing people's hearts pump more blood with each step and beats more per min. A recommended method to use when determining signs of exertion during pregnancy is called Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). RPE is a simple scale from one to ten. One being minimal effort, and ten being maximum effort. We want to be working within a seven to eight range when training unless we are a highly conditioned athlete, then a seven-point to an eight-point five range works too!
LLAM: How much weight should you be lifting during pregnancy?
Coach Robin: When I train a prenatal client, I like to start the program lifting anywhere between 65 - 75 % of their one-rep max. One rep max is simply saying the heaviest weight you can lift without compensation for one rep. We start lower due to a focus on proper functional and foundational movements. Once movements are adequately learned and performed, we focus on building strength for the new activities of motherhood. Anywhere between 75 - 80% of a one-rep max. In the last stage of training, typically within the third trimester, we drop a little bit of weight to compensate for the increased load being carried within the body. Ideally, the weight selection would not go any lower than the foundational stage because we will be stronger than when we started. Once again, these numbers can shift some if we have been lifting heavy before baby.
LLAM: Are six weeks really long enough to recover from giving birth?
Coach Robin: Everybody's body is different, and you have to take into consideration how you feel. I like to think that if it takes your body nine months to grow a human being, why not give your body at least the same amount of time to heal from the experience of childbirth. Your 6-week check-up is usually quick, and most women don't even get checked for Diastasis Recti. So if you have been cleared for fitness at the six-week mark, but you are experiencing symptoms such as incontinence, abdominal separation, or low back pain. Those are signs from your body that there is still significant healing to be done. I always recommend clients to work with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist or, outside of the United States, known as a Pelvic Floor physiotherapist. I recommend the extra support because our healing starts from the inside out with our deep core stabilizing muscle. Once we begin to strengthen our deep core and pelvic floor without any unwanted symptoms, we can start moving on to more physically demanding activities.
LLAM: Anything else you wish to highlight about remote prenatal and postnatal coaching?
Coach Robin: I would love to take a moment to highlight how easy training remotely is vs. in person. All you have to do is wake up, get dressed, turn your camera on, and you are at your session. Many clients of mine prefer to do a virtual session, and the best part of it all is that it doesn't matter where you are in the world, but you can have access to some of the best trainers in the industry. I love that our clients have access to us even if they are traveling for work or vacation and can still get their workouts for their health and their new little bundle of joy too!