Strength training or lifting weights is one of the best exercises for women, even during pregnancy. Loss of muscle tone gradually declines with age. In fact, studies show that around age 30, you begin to lose muscle mass and function. If you are physically inactive, you will lose muscle mass at a greater speed, some estimates say as much as 3-5% every decade after age 30.
The CDC is a big supporter of muscle training, “Muscle-strengthening activities can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength. Slowly increasing the amount of weight and number of repetitions you do will give you even more benefits, no matter your age.” There is no reason to stop strength training during pregnancy as long as you modify your workout and take a few extra precautions. Any muscle loss results in diminished mobility and strength — and these are two things you will need a lot of as a new parent.
Like with most other exercises, you should talk to your doctor before doing them. For example, some patients at high risk for preterm labor and birth or other complications should be more careful about certain exercises.
While lifting heavy weights is not recommended, you can certainly continue your workout using weights that feel comfortable for you at your level of training. After your first trimester, you should try not to do any floor exercises that will keep you on your back for long periods of time as your large belly can compromise blood flow.
Benefits of lifting weights during pregnancy
Aches and pains
Strength training is great for alleviating and preventing aches and pains. With regular workouts, you can help prevent the dreaded backaches that come with pregnancy.
Lifting weights works out your muscles so when you need them (think carrying around an extra 25 pounds of baby weight), your legs, hips, and back will be able to handle it.
Staying toned or getting toned during pregnancy will help you get back into shape quicker after the baby is born. Remember muscle burns fat so the more muscle, the better.
Lifting weights do increase your heart rate and can provide a certain amount of a cardio workout. Exercising your heart is always important, especially during pregnancy when your blood volume is increased.
Regular strength training workouts will leave you feeling strong and resilient. It will also get you ready to pick up and carry that growing baby around for the next two years, not to mention the car seat, stroller, playpen, and all the various baby items that will soon become part of your daily routine.