about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

    Contact Emily

    For general inquires, contact: EmilyBMalone@gmail.com.

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    Looking forward to chatting with you!

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    What’s Cooking?

    Personal Bests

    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.



Pregnant in the Weight Room.

Whenever I get emails from readers or friends wanting to know more about how I got into better shape, built muscle, got faster as a runner, etc. – I always point to one thing.  Strength training

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I can’t emphasize enough how important I think strength training is to having an overall toned build and healthy body.  Whether your goal is general fitness, increasing speed as a runner, or losing weight, strength training is the most effective way to build lean muscle and give your body shape. 

I’ve also talked a lot about how important I think it is to lift heavier weights.  Obviously weight lifting needs to be done safely and correctly in order to be effective, but too often I see and hear women who are afraid of “bulking up” if they lift heavier weights.  I assure you, the only bulk you will gain from upping your weights will be rock solid arms and a huge confidence boost.

Working out while pregnant has forced me to think about my strength training in new ways.  Pre-pregnancy I would choose the weights and exercises that really pushed me to my limits.  My goal was always to completely burn out by the last set, so that I knew my muscles had been worked to their max for the day.  In order to be effective, it is supposed to be difficult!

But working out while pregnant is totally different…

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I have to be careful to not push myself too far, and always make sure to stop when I can feel my body straining too hard or tiring too quickly.  The goal now is not to make it difficult, but rather just to keep my muscles engaged and body moving.  While I have significantly reduced the weight I lift for each exercise, I’m still lifting enough that it’s keeping my muscles toned and my body healthy.

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I’ve talked to my midwives about my workouts and have been assured that, as with all pregnancy exercise, because it’s something I was doing regularly before, my body is conditioned to continue to do it while pregnant (at a less intense level).

I have also had to pick and choose the exercises that I do now based on what my new body can handle.  Obviously anything that involves lying face down is out of the question, and I also make sure to avoid doing anything flat on my back.  I usually stick to upper body and leg exercises that feel the most comfortable. 

I do a mix of free weights and guided machines to work different muscle groups, and I try to make it to the gym three times each week.  To give you an idea of what my pregnancy strength training has looked like, here is the basic rundown of what I do now that I’m pregnant in the weight room…

Pull Downs

3 sets of 8 reps, pulling 70 pounds

lat pulldown

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Shoulder Press

3 sets of 10-12 reps, with 20lb dumbbells

Pre-pregnancy I did these with 25 or 30lbs each, but I found that lifting a lighter weight with more reps works better for me right now.

shoulder press

(source)

Bicep Curls

3 sets of 8 reps, with 15lb dumbbells

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Lunges

3 sets of 10 lunges on each side, alternating legs

Earlier in pregnancy I did these holding 10lb weights.  In the later weeks I’ve transitioned to just using my body weight, which is plenty!

lunges-forward

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Seated Squats

3 sets of 10 reps, pushing 120 pounds

I am hoping this is a good exercise to help prepare for labor!  I usually feel like I’m giving birth when I climb onto the machine.

legpress

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Hip Adductions

3 sets of 15 reps, lifting 115 pounds

I didn’t use to do these machines pre-pregnancy, but I am trying to really prepare my body for childbirth now as best as possible.  Strong core and kegel muscles are key!

hip adduction

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Hip Abductions

3 sets of 15 reps, lifting 115 pounds

Very similar to the machine pictured above, but this one works the outside of your legs and butt (while the adduction machine works inside muscles).  These two machines leave me very very sore!

hip abduction

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So that’s the basic rundown of what I do in the gym each week.  Usually I will also do some yoga stretching on the mats, along with a few sets of pushups.  But I have definitely found that with a new heavier body weight, pushups are MUCH more difficult these days!

One of the many reasons pregnant women struggle to find the motivation to exercise is because pregnancy can be really really exhausting.  And while I’ve definitely found myself glued to the couch some days, more often than not, I find that workout out and staying active has given me more energy and more motivation to keep moving.  

My hope is that by staying strong and keeping my muscles engaged, I’ll have a stronger core that will help me in childbirth.  Either way, continuing strength training while pregnant has been a fun opportunity to approach weight lifting with a new perspective. 

And for anyone who tells me that the weight room is too intimidating or scary, if I am in there with this big baby bump…

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…you can do it too!

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102 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Jo @ Jo In the Kitchen     at 4:22 pm

I did ballet and jazz the entire time I was pregnant! I was in college (majoring in dance), and everyone thought I was crazy, but it was truly the best thing for me. I stayed in shape, didn’t gain too much weight, and kept my sanity!
I hope that if I ever get pregnant again that I’ll feel as good as I did the first time (but hopefully not as much morning sickness!!!)
Great job on your fitness routine, and I’m glad that you’re feeling good about it. It will definitely help with labor :)

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Laura     at 6:57 pm

Thanks for this post! I am early in my pregnancy (9 weeks) and at first I was nervous about it because I didn’t want to do anything to harm my baby. I loved seeing what you do and that you still use weights and that it is possible to do more than just walk throughout pregnancy (depending on the pregnancy of course). I know everyone is different but a lot of the weight training I am doing is the same as yours, which makes me feel better. It’s just so nice to see a real-life post on this because a lot of what I was finding was really low-key and I knew I could do more than that, but just not as intense as before.

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

CONGRATS to you!!

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Bethany @ Accidental Intentions     at 7:36 pm

Dang, yo. A+ to you for being able to do those hip machines with so much weight. I can usually do the adductions all right with like 30 lbs. or so, but those abductions make my hip muscles cramp up in all sorts of extremely uncomfortable ways. It seriously hurts just thinking about it.

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Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker     at 8:55 am

Love this post, Emily. When we were on vacation, I headed to the gym with my husband and his brother/best friend. It was def a GUY gym . . . and I had already run, so my priority was weights. So weird working out with a baby bump in front of all those beefy guys. But you’re so right that strength training is a great way to stay in shape while pregnant. I’ll have to try some of these workouts.

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Britne @ Shabbott's Habits     at 10:48 am

Great post Emily! I too am one of those girls who believes in lifting heavier weights. My friends are always asking if I’m afraid that I’m going to look bulky and my answer is always – NO, I’m going to look TONED and DEFINED! Way to keep up the workouts with that cute beach ball belly of yours :)

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Laura     at 11:14 am

Hi! I ‘stumbledupon’ on of your posts awhile ago, and I’ve been reading your blog ever since. And although, at 22, I’m far away from even thinking about starting a family, I’m trying to start a healthy lifestyle (now that college is over haha) and your blog is definitely an inspiration to me! You look so healthy and happy!

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Lea @ Healthy Coconut     at 11:11 am

You are such an inspiration Emily. I am not pregnant and I am lifting less, but I know that I can do more….just need to push myself. I hope one day when I am pregnant, I can stay as active as you have been throughout your whole pregnancy.

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Christina Lee     at 9:24 pm

Wow very inspiring. I am 4 months and trying to keep the weight gain to a healthy 25ish lbs. you have inspired me to try a little heavier weights and gave me some ideas for new exercises. Thank you.

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