Saturday, January 16, 2010

Benefits of Exercise During Late Pregnancy

30 weeks and still going strong!!

It's hard to believe that I only have about 10 weeks left of this pregnancy to go! Each day my belly seems to get bigger and bigger, but (thankfully) my total body weight hasn't moved a pinch! So far, my total gain is about ~14 lbs and it's been over the last 8 weeks that it's stayed totally stable.

I know that may seem weird to some people, but as long as my baby is growing, the body fat I accumulated in the first trimester will not be missed at all!

You can see from the two pictures here that I look relatively normal for a fit pregnant woman, and I feel really fantastic! Yes, I have my off days, but for the most part, I've been able to train really hard at least once a day if not twice or three times (depends on how many times a day I am required to teach boot camps).

Yesterday and today were just single workout sessions, but they were pretty intense. Both were boot camp classes that involved 20:10 Tabata rounds for 20 mins followed by 50:10 intervals for another 22 minutes. Proceeding and following those rounds were active dynamic warmup followed by an active cool down and stretching.

Here is an example of what I did for one of the days of Tabata rounds:
Round 1 - eight 20 second repeats with 10 second rests of TRX jackknife pushups (4 mins)
Round 2 - as above, Med Ball Slam Downs with a 12 lb Dynamax Ball (4 mins)
Round 3 - ", Four point rows with 12 lbs DBs (4 mins)
Round 4 - ", Reverse Lunges (same leg 4x) with DB bicep curls (4 mins)
One minute rest between each round for about 20 mins.

Then, for the 50:10s:
1) Burpees
2) Speed Skaters
3) Slow Mtn Climbers
4) Body Weight Front Squats
5) High Knee Runs (for me, these were modified to High Knee to Elbow Touches because the pressure on my bladder from baby and the pressure on my lower belly was a bit intense)
This was repeated 4 times for about 22 mins.

Previously, before pregnancy, I still trained hard, but this type of interval training is amazing and so gratifying. I'm looking forward to continuing this after I deliver (probably following a bit of a break, if you know what I mean) and am excited to watch the fat melt off my body. Hey, if it can curtail fat gain during pregnancy when my fat storage hormones are surging and my sweet tooth is somewhat aggressive, I can just imagine what it'll do when I reach a normal baseline.

To all you pregnant ladies out there: we're learning each and every day how and why training during your pregnancy is so good for you AND your baby (NOTE: this information comes from one of the most prominent pregnancy and exercise researchers, Dr James Clapp III, who has studied many pregnant competitive Olympic athletes):
  • you accumulate less body fat
  • you have a positive sense of well-being and vigor when you might tend to be pessimistic, depressed or lethargic
  • you have a reduced incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (colds, sinusitis, etc)
  • you'll tend to have an easier, shorter and less complicated labour
  • you can actually IMPROVE your fitness level and physical performance (I can attest to that!)
  • your baby has developed an improved tolerance to stress and as such, can handle the stress of labour much better than a baby of a sedentary woman (i.e., fewer drops in heart rate with each contraction)
  • your baby has less body fat, but is still able to maintain it's body temperature
  • your baby will most likely be more mature at birth, meaning, they respond readily to environmental cues and will self-quiet themselves if disturbed when napping
  • your baby will also be a better sleeper (less likely to wake easily)
  • your baby will probably perform better on standardized intelligence tests as they advance in age
  • your baby will grow to be a less-fat adult (which is great news in our society of excess overweightness)
Remember: there's a balance between enough exercise for you and baby and too much. If you start feeling unwell during exercise, back off. For me, I've found a few exercises that make me sick: Swiss ball jackknife crunches make me a bit nauseous, so I've stopped doing them; too many jumping jacks or jump rope seem to put a lot of stress on my belly, so I've curtailed how much I do (same with high knee runs); prone positions are getting a lot harder to do (like prone T-raises), so I'm starting to take them out of my program.

Bottom Line: Exercise if you can, exercise if you're healthy. Not every woman is in this situation, but if you're well and have no complications, there should be no reason for you to give up something you love doing.

Stay strong!


Shar said...

Hi Cassandra
I found your blog through abother pregnanat ladies blog.

I'm 35 weeks pregnanat and still going strong with exercise (I teach group Fitness)Dr Clapps book was my essential purchase and I still read and refer to it now.

Will be following your last 10 weeks. Good luck.


Cassandra Forsythe said...

That's great Shar! What type of classes do you teach?

Dr Clapps book is great!

Nicole said...

Whoohoo - what a yummy looking mummy to be you are!! Wow I am impressed with your workouts - that's just awesome!10 weeks left is defintely going to go very fast!!

Apparently there is nothing I can do to naturally increase my fluid levels but I do make sure I drink between 5-6 litres a day to stay well hydrated but I will ask my ob the question again at my appt on Tuesday to see if there is anything else I can do!!

Enjoy! Nicole xx

Angie said...

Is that Clapp´s ¨Exercising through your pregnancy¨? Btw, Cassandra - I really enjoy your writing. I discovered you via your book - New Rules of Lifting for Women. Congratulations on your pregnancy - you really do look great! And super fit!!

Unknown said...

Hi, Cassandra. I have 2 uestions and a comment, so I will start with the comment:

You husband is blessed to have a pregnant wife who looks better than most women out there who aren't pregnant, so I am rather jealous of his good fortune, not to mention inspired by your effort and hard work :)

I realize there may be no definitive answer and that each case will likely vary to some degree, but is there an approximate range of increase in calorie intake that tracks best with normal fetal development (outside of considerations about specific nutrient intake)? Some women let themselves go hog wild while I have heard unfortunate stories about some who have gone to the opposite extreme. Just curious if you know of a "sweet spot", so to speak.

On a completely unrelated note, what is a 4-point row? I'm familiar with 3-point rows where the head is supported or you use a free arm for support, and also 2-point DB rows (basically free-standing DB rows with either 1 or 2 DB's). But for some reason the 4-point row is eluding me.............perhaps I need to put on my dunce's cap, hah, hah.

Best of luck to you and your husband as you head down the pregnancy home stretch!!

Cassandra Forsythe said...

Hi Angie, Yes, that is the book. Could you see the link I attached to his name? :)
Thank you for visiting my blog!

The general +300 calorie guideline does seem to be what I'm following and appears to be giving me good results. My baby is growing but I'm not enlarging if you know what I mean.
So many women have said to me that pregnancy is a time to totally let go. I don't agree. Yes, I'm very relaxed with my eating, but I'm not gorging myself (anymore that is... the first trimester was rough). I eat well, but still let myself have a treat here and there (I think it's hard to stop that totally anyhow).

4-pt row/DB renegade row:

Thanks for the compliments! You're great! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great blog and the informative posts. I would like to read all your posts in the archive on pregnancy and fitness during pregnancy. Is there a tag I can click on to get them? Thanks.


Bree said...

You look great! I have been enjoying every post about pregnancy. Thanks again for all the information and sharing your journey.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Great article! i just started to exercise again after finishing off the first trimester, yikes! that was a tough one. i am 16 weeks pregnant. the one activity that i have been enjoying lately is aqua size. it seems that this is the only thing that i can do at the moment. the other day i really noticed during a class one night that my lower abs are not so strong as they used to be. what can you suggest to tighten them up? and that will be safe?


Sue said...

When you give birth it will be interesting if you did some posts on what to feed baby whe weaning.
At Richard's site:
From the American Academy of Pediatrics -
"There is no good reason not to introduce meats, vegetables, and fruits as the first complementary foods, according to Dr. Frank R. Greer, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics's Committee on Nutrition.

Introducing these foods early and often promotes healthy eating habits and preferences for these naturally nutrient-rich foods, said Dr. Greer, who is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Rice cereal has traditionally been the first complementary food given to American infants, but “Complementary foods introduced to infants should be based on their nutrient requirements and the nutrient density of foods, not on traditional practices that have no scientific basis,” Dr. Greer said in an interview."

Anonymous said...

My sister sent me this link as she sat in with my appointment with the midwife who was appauled that I had ran to my 16 week check up which is only 1 mile away from the house! Thankfully I didnt tell her I was running home and then teaching pump and step a few hours later! Have you any comments re:HR's. I have read you should not exceed 150bpm but I am struggling to keep to this. Any advice gretaly appreciated.

Cassandra Forsythe said...

Hi Zara

The heart rate recommendations have been discontinued by ACOG and disproved by Dr James Clapp.

You can see here that ACOG doesn't even put a # on heart rate anymore. Just tells women to be conscious of how hard they're pushing themselves:

Laurie Cags said...

You look georgeous - Keep up the good work!

Unknown said...

Most of the women are health conscious by nature. Exercises during pregnancy will make the delivery easy and also enriches the fetus health. Doing fitness exercises are must for females.

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