Functional Training for Pregnancy

Functional Training pic


Are you pregnant? Or are you thinking about getting pregnant?  Did you know that a woman’s body will change more in 9 months of pregnancy than a man’s will in his lifetime—and that you need an exercise program to match the transformation? So says maternal exercise experts in the Personal Training St. Louis area.  A mom-to-be will need to master strength, agility, balance, speed, acceleration, deceleration, directional change and rotation . . . all with a load that increases every day.


Discover a few important exercise areas for the different trimesters of your pregnancy and how you can strengthen your body safely.


First Trimester (Weeks 1–12)

The key point during the first trimester is to help you ease into the tremendous shifts occurring in your body.


Diaphramatic breathing. The diaphragm is the foundational component behind nearly all muscle imbalances.  Proper diaphragmatic breathing is the single most important exercise that will ever be instructed for the modern pregnant woman.  Proper diaphragmatic breathing looks like this: Fill the belly, ribs and lower back first.  Kegels. Start incorporating pelvic-floor (Kegel) exercises in your first trimester. (Find your pelvic-floor muscles by stopping your urine midstream while going to the bathroom; these are the muscles that Kegel exercises strengthen.) Gaining and maintaining pelvic-floor strength will help prevent back and pelvic pain, incontinence during pregnancy and, most importantly, long-term incontinence and possible [organ] prolapse.


Second Trimester (Weeks 13–28)

The second trimester is when your energy level is returning and your “baby bump” is starting to show. You should begin building your strength and endurance in preparation for baby weight gain.


Core stability.  Concentrate on core strength in various planes of motion. For example, the standing wood chop is a highly functional movement for moms. Avoid lying flat on your back at this point in your pregnancy. St. Louis personal trainers recommend doing modified supine (semi-sitting) or, possibly, standing abdominal exercises instead.


Upper back and arms. The second trimester is the perfect time to focus on the upper body.  Start thinking through the load imbalance of motherhood.  A new mom will hardly ever be equally loaded on both sides of her body, since she will often be carrying a baby in one arm for months to come. To compensate, use exercises that throw the body off just a little, such as low rows with one arm instead of two.


Third Trimester (Weeks 29–40)


The third trimester is about keeping you exercising comfortably while maintaining fitness.   Avoid quick changes of direction, especially laterally (e.g., side lunges, wood chops), because the risk of ligamentous sprain increases.


Training for labor and delivery. To promote the muscular endurance needed during birth, Clayton, MO personal trainers want to encourage you to practice holding a pelvic-floor contraction, a squat or an upright abdominal compression (pulling the bellybutton into the spine) for up to 90 seconds at a time.


You should also learn to consciously relax the pelvic floor after every Kegel contraction as this will develop mind-body awareness and an ability to relax the pelvic floor during the pain of a labor contraction.

Note: For assistance in designing an exercise program appropriate for you and your pregnancy, please contact a certified personal trainer.


A Safe Pregnancy

Some medical conditions preclude physical activity during pregnancy. Ask your doctor if you are concerned. However, for women without medical complications, physical activity during pregnancy can be very beneficial. Remember to listen to your body’s signals and slow down when needed.


For more information on exerting when pregnant, contact Maurie Cofman, CMES, CES, TBMM-CES, Personal Trainer, Certified Medical Exercise Specialist, Health Coach and Corrective Exercise Specialist in the St. Louis, Brentwood, and Clayton, MO area.