Weight Training Postpartum
This is the awesome Roni Levin - banging out 15 reps of 25kg squats 3.5 months postpartum!
That's pretty heavy right? Well, that depends... she managed 15 reps with beautiful form AND she maintained correct breathing throughout (and this is important) ALL THE REPS - she can exhale through all 15 reps and doesn't have to hold her breath.
When I give general guidelines, I only tell people to introduce barbell back squats after 4 months - and that's only if your DR is healing, you have PERFECT form in a bodyweight squat and you have NO pelvic floor issues - no peeing and NO PAIN.
But every once in a while someone like Roni comes along that is the exception and not the rule - with no pain of any kind and no PF problems, she has been able to advance much quicker than most
My job as a trainer - and in particular as a postpartum exercise specialist - is to know when to give someone a bit more, push them a bit further (because the principles of training of OVERLOAD and PROGRESSION are so, so important and usually totally overlooked), and when to hold them back and get them to fix whatever issues they are having.
Heavy is a relative term - some people I know would literally be crushed by this weight!! Some women have to hold their breath to get out of a chair - but others like Roni, can bang it out for reps.
Is this the first time she did squats? Nooooo... Did I just randomly pick this weight for her to start with? Hell no!! She started with bodyweight squats, and we added 2.5 kilos every time she got to 15 reps. If she ever felt like she would need to hold her breath to do another one, I asked her to stop.
My general guidelines for any strength exercise postpartum:
- BLOW BEFORE YOU GO! (Thanks Julie Wiebe, PT), make sure you're breathing through the hardest part of the movement - Don't hold your breath, EVER - Work in a 10-15 rep range. If you can't do 10, it's too heavy - if you can do 15, you can add weight - Learn perfect form before you add any weight - If anything hurts or even feels slightly uncomfortable - STOP!
I'm not sharing this to make you feel bad about your own postpartum fitness journey! This is just to show that there is no black and white in the postpartum fitness game - you have to know the guidelines and understand the risks and rewards of both postpartum issues AND fitness (two VERY large areas) and then you can decide what is right for you right now.
Well done Roni, and sorry about the horrible video - I was trying not to drop Rachel's beautiful baby boy at the time!!