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What should I do as far as working out so that I avoid losing muscle mass during pregnancy?

Tonja Davis (Lynnwood, WA) on Sep 25, 2012
It is completely dependent on what you are currently doing, the risk level of your pregnancy, what stage of your pregnancy you are in and what your doctor says. In a generally healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy where you are physically active prior to your pregnancy, you can keep your routine up for at least the first trimester. As your pregnancy goes on, there are some exercises that will be ruled out (called "contraindicated") to protect you and the baby. These tend to be any prone (lying down) exercises as well as exercises that cause you to "bear down". If you are not physically active, the best thing you can do is to walk. Walk regularly for as long as you can tolerate it and slowly try to build duration - not intensity. The best thing you can do is talk with your doctor. Let them know what you are currently doing, explain your concerns and ask what you can do to address them.
Jessica Riley (Coeur D Alene, ID) on Sep 25, 2012
Lifting light weights is a good idea. Check with your doctor on restrictions.
Christian Cruz (Miami, FL) on Sep 25, 2012
As long as you have medical clearance, I am a big fan of weight training while you are pregnant. The key to weight training while you are pregnant is to work out at an intensity that you are experienced at and feel comfortable. Also, perform exercises that you are familiar with. Focus on your pelvic floor, core, hip, legs and back muscles. I find that staying in the 5-12 rep range is good for maintaining strength and muscle without overheating or increasing your heart rate too much. Squats, dead lifts, lunges and bent over rows are some of my favorite pregnancy exercises. You can do these with weight or no weight at all depending on your level of fitness. Finally make sure you are performing these exercises correctly or have a prenatal certified trainer monitoring your sessions. For info, contact me at
Michael Bistany (Salem, NH) on Sep 25, 2012
First of all, get approval from your doctor. Second, lift weights with high reps and low weight.
Josh Morrison (Mt Zion, IL) on Sep 25, 2012
Perform resistance training.
Austra Bloms (Portland, OR) on Sep 25, 2012
Walking is a safe exercise to do while pregnant. While being pregnant, be aware that the joints become very mobile and could give out, so walking on uneven terrain could be tricky. Do not make any sharp turns. You may lift lightweight dumbbells, as long as you are not holding your breath during reps and are able to breathe smoothly while lifting weights. If you do more reps, you will maintain your muscle throughout your pregnancy. Eat lots of protein to "feed" the muscles.
Wayne Smith (Lebanon, PA) on Sep 25, 2012
You can work out as usual up to the end of the first trimester, after which the hormone relaxin is released. Relaxin will soften the ligaments, cartilage and cervix. At this point, lower your weight load and increase reps. This will help prevent atrophy, though you'll lose some strength. When doing exercises such as squats and lunges, keep close to a bar or wall in case you lose your balance. Avoid lying on your back during exercises, as this will cut off the blood supply to the heart and may cause you to feel dizzy. Use the treadmill and other cardio machines. To help prevent incontinence, exercise your pelvic floor on a regular basis.
Andrew Lee (Richmond, VA) on Sep 25, 2012
There are many things you can do during pregnancy to avoid losing muscle mass. The main thing I would recommend to anyone in your situation is to stay active and keep lifting weights. There are specific exercises and ways to move to prevent injury to yourself or your child. For the most part, being on a methodical and well rounded total body conditioning program should be a top priority.
Matthew Hanson (Las Vegas, NV) on Sep 25, 2012
You would first need to talk to your doctor. Most doctors don'twant you to start a new exercise routine after you are already pregnant. If you were already doing any type of resistance training before your pregnancy, you can continue it. Walking is usually safe for most pregnant women. Good luck!
Jon McQueen (Vista, CA) on Sep 25, 2012
Light resistance exercises never hurt anybody. I recommend using light to moderate resistance bands/tubing and dumbbells for your weight training. Any amount of resistance training is better than nothing. Since high-intensity exercises are out of the question, especially during your second and third trimester, I recommend working out at a higher volume,which means more reps, lighter weight, and a moderate amount of sets. Again, stimulating the muscles is key, so don't just focus on cardio. You need resistance training.
Kaal Nath (Hoover, AL) on Sep 25, 2012
Swimming and other in-the-pool activity can provide non-jarring resistance exercise as well as adequate aerobic and anaerobic challenges.
Deuce Witherspoon (Los Angeles, CA) on Sep 25, 2012
Continue working out as long as there is no danger involved. Low impact workouts are best.
Anthony McElroy (Washington, DC) on Sep 25, 2012
You can monitor your diet and nutritional intake to support muscle maintenance. Consult your physician for guidance first. Consider supervised moderate resistance training using dumbbells, machines and rubber tubing. And consider doing isometric focus training, which involves placing a muscle or group of muscles in a contracted state and holding that contraction for a given length of time. Moderate resistance training and isometric training, along with a supportive diet and nutrition plan, could help you avoid significant reduction of muscle mass during this wonderful time. CONGRATULATIONS. Peace and blessings.
Lynda Lippin (New York, NY) on Sep 25, 2012
You can do whatever you like as long as you are feeling OK! It is only in your late second and third trimesters that there are some restrictions, but there are plenty of good prenatal teachers and classes around. Lynda
Carmen Rojas (Jacksonville, FL) on Sep 25, 2012
I have had two children, and I can report that it is possible to maintain muscle mass during pregnancy. But keep in mind that the changes to your body,including hormonal changes and restricted physical movement, will make maintaining all your muscle mass difficult. During pregnancy, you should be more focused on staying healthy, and having a healthy baby. The great news is that after the baby comes, you gain the muscle mass back!
Ann Prokenpek (Roswell, GA) on Sep 25, 2012
As long as there are no extenuating circumstances, you should be able to continue exercising just like you did before your pregnancy, with a few changes. After the first trimester, do not lift anything heavier than 20 pounds above the waist, skip exercises that put weight on the spine, and make sure you do not overheat when you do cardio.
Tony Torres (Los Angeles, CA) on Sep 25, 2012
You can do most exercises at a light intensity level. The key to keeping muscle mass is to continue to overload (that is, add resistance to) the muscle. Nutrition is very important during pregnancy. Make sure your diet is at least 20 percent protein.
Sarah Ann Corkum (New York, NY) on Sep 25, 2012
Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you're clear for resistance training. One thing that hasn't been mentioned so far is breathing technique. For example, during a bicep curl, remember to inhale as you lower your arms to the starting position and exhale as you curl up. Think of this cue as "exhaling on the exertion". During the "hard part", breathe out! This will help your muscles work and ensure that you are getting enough oxygen to your body and baby. One thing to avoid is the "valsalva maneuver", the "grunt" often heard alongside heavy weight training and power training. It cuts off oxygen and can cause strain on your internal organs. Any kind of exercise that causes difficulty in breathing should be avoided while you are pregnant. Specifically, plyometrics, power-training, kettlebelling, or any ballistic kind of movement should all be avoided. However, light to moderate resistance training with dumbbells, cables, body- bars and medicine balls are great ways to build muscle. Remember to safeguard your safety while exercising on the gym floor, class, or outdoor exercise. Crowded group fitness studios and areas where heavy objects are being thrown are not the best places for a pregnant person. Make sure you have enough space to move and are able to balance well (which may be challenging in later trimesters) during any kind of exercise! Congratulations and have fun!
Jason Kozma (Santa Monica, CA) on Sep 25, 2012
Let comfort be your guide. If you do not strain the back or abdomen and keep your heart rate under 140, you can do most of your regular stuff. You should train at least once a week.
Greg Rainbolt (League City, TX) on Sep 25, 2012
While you are pregnant it is very important to stay active. I would encourage you to participate in a water resistance class at a moderate intensity two or three days a week. Water resistance exercises help increase lean muscle tissue and condition the cardiovascular system. They are also low-impact.
Dan Kritsonis (Bellevue, WA) on Sep 25, 2012
Lift weights equal to or less than the weight you were lifting before your pregnancy. Lift to maintain muscle mass, not to gain more muscle mass. During the third trimester (week 28 to birth), you can use hand-held weights if you are careful. Always consult with your physician, since not everyone is the same.
Hubert Maloy (Greenville, SC) on Sep 25, 2012
For adding or maintaining muscle mass during pregnancy, resistance training is both necessary and safe. Here are a few guidelines. Check with your doctor. Avoid exercises that require lying on your back (exercising on your back can compromise blood flow to the placenta and uterus). Avoid extreme environments (hot, cold etc.) Stay hydrated. Avoid high-intensity resistance workouts. Maintain balance and a firm core. Incorporate extended warm-up/cool-down periods.
William Turner (New York, NY) on Sep 25, 2012
If you have been cleared by doctor to conduct physical activity, most women can train well into the later part of third trimester. As far as your muscle mass is concerned, you will most certainly lose some until after the delivery of the baby. However, there is no cause for alarm. As long as you continue your strength training regime for the duration of your pregnancy, the degree of loss in muscle mass is minimal. You'll recover in no time. Stick to a strength-based regimen and follow medical directives. The most important thing is a healthy baby and mother.
Jennifer Stauffer (Grand Rapids, MI) on Sep 25, 2012
Do not try anything new. Keep doing whatever you're doing now, just lighten the weights.
Jessica Moon (Seabeck, WA) on Sep 25, 2012
It is fine to continue to lift weight while you are pregnant. Even lifting lighter weights with more repetitions will be enough to help you maintain muscle, as long as you lift at least 2 to 3 times a week. Congratulations!
Franklin Antoian (Delray Beach, FL) on Sep 25, 2012
You can continue your weight training routine while you're pregnant. If you are new to weight training, you can begin a program. In both cases, see a doctor and qualified personal trainer before you begin any exercises.
Corey Gill (Glendale, AZ) on Sep 25, 2012
Most pregnant women are able to continue an exercise program that includes weight lifting, push-ups, pull-ups, etc. Whatever you were doing prior to pregnancy can be continued, but make sure you listen to your body and your doctor. Follow a good nutrition program.
Mercedes Dunn (Worcester, MA) on Sep 25, 2012
Always check with your doctor before embarking on an exercise program. That being said, exercise during pregnancy has many benefits, such as protecting your joints and easing labor and delivery. If you already work out, you can continue with your regular routine with a few modifications. If you are just starting out, use the same precautions as you would if you were not pregnant. Use caution with any exercise that can cause bouncing or jarring, such as plyometric exercises, exercises that involve twisting of the torso, contact sports and exercises that can cause you to fall. The most important thing is to listen to your body. If you feel any pain, have trouble breathing or feel hot, stop!
Ryan Jankowitz (Arlington, VA) on Sep 25, 2012
The most important things to consider when exercising while pregnant are to listen to your doctor and your body. There will probably be several exercises that you will not be allowed to do, like lying on your back and performing a bench press. Otherwise, stick with your normal routine as long as it's comfortable for you. I've worked with several women before, during, and after pregnancy and they were able to perform most of their normal routine. The variables that we changed were positioning and intensity. We slowed things down quite a bit and took more rest between sets and substituted a few exercises. However, the amount of weight lifted did not change. Again, just listen to your body. Hope this helps.