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Pregnancy is a time full of changes, especially physically. Whether you’ve already had a solid strength training routine in place or you’d like to get started, it’s perfectly safe to do so. Although you should always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise routine, as long as you take some precautions and make a few modifications, strength training is an excellent form of activity to do while pregnant.

Research shows that the outcomes for mothers and babies are better with prenatal exercise participation. Moms in better physical condition have shorter labors with fewer chances of giving birth preterm, fewer complications during pregnancy and delivery, and less lengthy stays in the hospital.

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Furthermore, your risks of some pregnancy-related health issues such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia are reduced if you exercise during pregnancy.1

Your baby will also reap the benefits of your exercise routine. Moms who keep fit have healthier babies who have less chance of cardiovascular issues in the future.2 Additionally, the brain development of babies born to women who exercise during their pregnancy seems to be faster, and these babies have higher APGAR scores, meaning that they can deal with the stresses of delivery better than those whose moms didn’t exercise during pregnancy.3

Be sure to speak with your health care provider before starting a strength training routine during pregnancy. Your doctor will make sure you don’t have any medical reasons to avoid exercise—including strength training—during pregnancy.

The Best Strength Training Exercises During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body changes drastically. Your weight increases, putting more pressure on your pelvis and spine while certain hormones cause your joints and muscles to become more flexible, leading to stability issues. To better support your body while performing daily activities, increasing—and maintaining—your strength is essential.

Strengthening the muscles in your body can help reduce your chances of pain while preparing your body for delivery. Posture issues can arise during pregnancy. Strength training can decrease postural issues by improving your alignment, providing more space for your baby to develop and remain in an ideal position for labor and delivery.

Just because you are pregnant does not mean you have to give up lifting heavy weights. You may choose to use lighter weights for exercises with higher reps, but you can also continue with heavier options. When considering how much to lift, you should choose a weight that is difficult for you during the last three to four reps, but you are still able to maintain proper form. The weight that you choose will depend on your current strength level and fitness experience. If you’re newer to strength training and adding it to your routine at home, you may want to stick with lighter weights.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated and take breaks when you need to. Listen to your body and stop any movements that feel uncomfortable or painful.

The Best Lower Body Strength Training Exercises During Pregnancy

A strong lower body starts with the gluts, which help support your back and core muscles. Strong gluts and hip flexors provide stability for your pelvis as it changes position. These muscles can become weaker during the third trimester as hormones prepare your body to give birth.

Here are a few excellent strength training exercises to boost lower body strength:

Split Squats

This exercise can be done with body-weight or holding dumbbells in each hand.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and brace your core.
  • Step forward with your left foot, leaving your right foot in place. Lower your right knee toward the floor.
  • The majority of your weight should be on your front leg while using your back leg for balance.
  • Push up with your front left leg to stand. Keep your legs in place and repeat the movement.
  • Try 10 repetitions on each side.
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