A Complete Guide To Working Out While Pregnant

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
September 09, 2014

I remember surfing the net taking a leisure break when I came across this picture. My jaw dropped! It was the first time I had ever seen a pregnant woman working out more intensely than just your casual walk or jog outside.

It was none other than Heidi Powell. You can check out more of her pregnancy journey here.

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Something rose deep within me… I wanted to be Heidi. Fit and pregnant. I remember telling Todd all about the picture and article, and I told him I couldn’t wait to be pregnant again just so I could workout while pregnant.

He laughed. He’d remembered the 19 weeks of me throwing up everything… I hadn’t.

Although I’d been active before I got pregnant, my exercise routines quickly got thrown out during my first pregnancy. I was busy and had an active job that required standing, bending, lifting and moving, so I justified not working out.

I did the occasional yoga routine when guilt set in, but I didn’t do anything with any consistency.

Wake Up Call

I remember a week after Emma was born I was so happy and excited that I’d gotten back down to my pre-baby weight already. Wow, that was easy. I’d only gained 25 pounds, and I certainly didn’t deliver a 25 pound baby… But the scale doesn’t lie, right?

A few weeks later, I began exercising. And that’s when reality set in. I tried a simple 20-minute yoga routine and I could barely get through it. In fact I had to take several breaks. What happened?!

I was EMBARRASSED and I felt DEFEATED! I was the wife of Todd, fitness trainer and entrepreneur, and I couldn’t even do YOGA?!

I had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl naturally. No meds, no epidural, no C-section, no nothing. I felt so strong. I felt like I could achieve anything after giving birth to our daughter, but here I was weeks later barely able to sustain Warrior 2 pose.

Knee Health Score 1

All of my muscles felt like jello and I lost any motivation to workout.

Help to the Rescue

Thankfully, I’m married to Todd. Who is absolutely amazing in so many ways. Specifically, about getting back on track. He suggested that I make very CLEAR and SPECIFIC goals for working out, to give myself an INCENTIVE.

I made a chart and hung it up in our workout room. I committed to working out for 20 minutes, three times a week, for the next two months.

I kept a tally, and every week that I achieved that goal, I would get money to put towards whatever I wanted. It could go towards anything, but I had to workout three times in order to get the cash for that week.

My workouts weren’t great. But that wasn’t my goal. My goal was to train my body and my mind to do something that I hadn’t been doing for the last nine months.

I then made a promise to myself that NEVER AGAIN would I not workout during a pregnancy. I had gotten myself into a deficit that I never want to experience again. And I haven’t. 🙂

Here I am 15 weeks pregnant.

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What are the Benefits of Working Out?

Studies show that women who work out are more likely to experience the following benefits:

  • Increased stamina and muscle strength
  • Decreased back pain and body aches
  • Less chance of excessive weight gain by an average of 7lbs
  • More energy and better mood
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced stress
  • Quicker rebound time to your pre-pregnancy body
  • Shorter and easier labor

How To Get Moving

So here are some general rules to adhere to when working out. First though, be sure to get the OK from your doctor if you have a higher risk pregnancy.

The 75% Rule – If you were working out before getting pregnant, then you can continue. However, as you progress in your pregnancy, go at 75% of your previous intensity. If you were a runner that ran 10 miles on average, than start running only 7 miles.

Why? Because your body is still working at 100% due to the energy and support it’s giving to your unborn child. There’s a reason why you’re so tired in the first trimester; your body is hard at work. I used to work out 6 days a week. Now, I do 4 days and try to walk and stretch 2-3 days a week. For me, this feels plenty.

What If I Haven’t Worked Out In Months? – That’s okay. It’s never too late to start, even if you’re already pregnant. You’ll just need to start at a much slower pace and build your way up. The best place to start is with walking. Start with 1 mile and add another mile every 2 weeks. It’s a great way to decrease lower back pain, prevent leg cramping, and strengthen your pelvic floor. A recent seminar I attended suggested pregnant women should walk 6 miles a day! Wow!

Listen to Your Body – Every person’s body is different. What’s important is that you exercise to feel better and to have a healthier pregnancy. If you need to take a rest, stop and take a breather. Challenge yourself, but know that as you get farther along in your pregnancy, you’ll need to modify your exercises so that you can stay healthy, comfortable and safe.

Take Care of Your Body – 30 minutes before working out, eat something substantial. A protein bar, an apple with peanut butter, etc. Drinking water is a must before, during, and after a workout. Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and even contractions. Be sure to refuel after your workout. It’s best to eat something a little bit higher in complex carbs to replenish spent energy. My go-to post-workout snack is a banana.

The 5/15 Workout

Well, enough talk. Let’s get moving. This workout is less than 10 minutes long, but it’s a great intensity level for me at 20 weeks pregnant. Before I was pregnant, my rep range was 25-30 but with so much weight pulling me forward I get the same intensity doing a 15 rep range.

Feel free to cycle through the workout twice or add more reps.

Also, Todd and I will be finding out tomorrow who’s been baking in the oven for the last 20 weeks.

Any guesses on if we’re having a boy or a girl?

– Allison

Show/Hide Comments (5 comments)
  1. Aubrey Hubbard

    Hi Allison! So I had a question for you! I have been looking all over the internet for answers and haven’t come across anything until your blog. I worked out very consistently before I got pregnant. Mostly plyometrics-1 hour of full body workouts that are high intensity. My first trimester I was sick and stopped working out completely. I am now 17 weeks and am starting to feel better but have lost ALL of my muscle and I’ve had a couple of people comment on my weight. I miss working out but I’m not sure where to start? any suggestions would be super helpful!

    Thank you!

  2. Anne Schmidt

    Allison congratulations to you and Todd on the expected new addition to your family. I wish you all the best with this pregnancy. You look wonderful.

    • Allison

      Thank you so much, Anne. We are super excited to be having a boy! Thank you for your encouraging words. 🙂

  3. Jenn

    More power to you momma! Keep up the great work.

    I would love if you stopped by my (other) blog… 🙂

    I kept a blog through my pregnancy detailing workouts and fitness and of course being pregnant. 🙂 Its still updated (much less often) now that babe is 20 months – man it goes by fast…

    Anyway – URL: glutenfreebunintheoven.wordpress.com

    Keep up the hard work! Its so worth it.

    • Allison

      Thanks Jenn! Just checked out the blog. Love the name. 🙂

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