pregnancy fitness

Fitness expert Andrea Orbeck answers a few common questions about what to do (and what not to do) during pregnancy.

Is it OK to work my abs?
Yes! Abs are really important! After all, we use them to push the baby. We modify the abs after the 2nd trimester to avoid unnecessary pressure on the organs. Propping up on your elbow is a safer position.

Moving the legs instead of regular crunches, holding a plank or doing a standing version of abs by lifting the knee and lowering the elbow are also great ways to strengthen your core. If you have a condition called Diastasis Recti, (the splitting of the abs) it's best to talk to your health care provider.

Should I stop running?
The rule of thumb is that if you have no medical conditions which prevent activity and you have been running up until pregnancy, go ahead and run! As the anterior weight of belly and boobs increase, you may want to do intervals so your frame can handle the weight. Alternatively, you can also get the similar running buzz with incline, fast paced walks. Ensure you have a great supportive bra and even consider a belly sling for added support. As for the myth that your baby is bouncing around when you run, total myth.

Should I keep my heart rate low?
Because your body is working overtime to grow your baby, the heart rate is going to be higher than usual. Your heart and lungs and placenta are more than efficient enough to handle exercise as well. When you are pregnant, a heart rate monitor is not the most efficient source to knowing your range, but opt for the perceived exertion scale of intensity of 1-10. Keep your range around 6 to 7 intensity level.

What about push-ups? Are they safe?
Yes! It's also a great time to practice your core because your body is prone (facing down). Just keep in mind that your have a heavier load of belly and boobs for your pecs to push. As you get bigger, the belly may not allow you to do push ups, even from the knees. An alternative is standing on a slant against a bench or wall. Same muscle, different body position.

Are squats ok?
Yes, yes and yes!! Squats keep your legs strong and that will come in handy to bear the weight on them as you get heavier. It will also help protect your back, as it will get you in the habit to use your legs to lower your body and eventually your growing toddler! Keep your form slow and strict and modify your stance to accommodate your girth by widening your stance.

What about High-Intensity Interval Training?
If you have been doing intervals going in to pregnancy, stick to a reasonable routine that you are used to. Modify the intensity and duration of interval training by opting for step ups or incline walks vs. sprints. If you are doing cardio in between a weight circuit, monitor your heart rate, take longer rest periods, keep cool and very hydrated.

I was using heavy weights before pregnancy? Should I continue to use them during?
Your baby and boobs should take care of that for the most part, however there is nothing dangerous about lifting to your strengths ability. Use caution when lifting weights overhead, as it can raise your heart rate tremendously and effect your blood pressure, making you feel light headed. Increase your weight 5 - 8 lbs on most movements and you will maintain your strength gains and muscle tone.