News and Tribune

January 17, 2013

BELCHER: Training for two

Local columnist

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Over the last few months we’ve had a handful of athletes announce that a little bundle of joy was on the way! Not knowing if they would be able to continue their training while pregnant they came to us with a number of questions. 

To put things in perspective, the athletes at our facility train in a style akin to Olympic or college level competitors, thus an even better reason for them to question if they should continue a training program involving weightlifting, bodyweight/gymnastic movements, and metabolic conditioning (i.e. cardio). 

Realizing that this was something that was not just specific to our gym, we felt it would be good to offer some of the questions, answers, as well as pieces of advice that athletes at our gym and across the country have learned from training while pregnant:


“First and foremost, consult your doctor.”

Each person has different physical challenges and will encounter different challenges during their pregnancy.  Consult your doctor before continuing or making changes to your training routine. 

“You don’t have to stop what you’re doing." 

Understand where you’re starting and move forward sensibly. First check with your doctor, but more often than not, you won’t have to resort to nothing but walking and/or riding a recumbent bike. We’ve had several athletes continue their cross training into their third trimester. The key is to keep the conversation open with your physician and understand what movements should be avoided and/or scaled. 

“Your goal should be to facilitate a healthy pregnancy” 

Exercising during your pregnancy is obviously encouraged, but your main goal should be to keep a certain level of fitness to facilitate a healthy pregnancy - not to start a wild new exercise program or to start setting PRs (personal records) with your current training.   

“If there’s ever a time to eat healthy... Now is it!”

This is your time to directly affect the health of your little one, and literally influence what he or she is made of. Nausea can be a big issue during the first trimester and beyond. For many of our athletes, just the site of food they once found appetizing made them sick. That said, they didn’t use it as an excuse to eat a whole bag of Doritos and a half a pizza. If you try hard enough, you can often find healthy options that you can still stomach. 

“Don’t feel guilty if your workout frequency drop off.” 

Tarah Chieffi was exhausted and nauseous throughout her first trimester and found it difficult to get up for her usual early morning workouts. She didn’t always have time to workout in the evenings, so her workouts dropped from 6 or 7 per week to 3 or 4. She felt guilty at first, but she and her baby are still getting tons of health benefits from a few workouts per week, and most women get a burst of energy and relief from nausea in the second trimester.

“Use a weight you are comfortable with”

Before she got pregnant, Tarah was loving that she could lift heavier and heavier weights, but during her pregnancy she plans to stick with the weights with which she was comfortable pre-pregnancy instead of trying to add weight. This way, she still gets in a great workout without risking injury.

“The more consistent you stay the easier it will be to bounce back.”

Heather Bergeron recently competed in the CrossFit Games (a competition to crown the fittest person on earth) only a month after giving birth. She scaled her training and substituted certain movements so that she was able to train well into her third trimester. Her story is more extreme than most, but find out what works for you and stay with it.