Prenatal Fitness Series
Pre- and post-natal fitness is not usually as black and white as people make out. Most exercises have good and bad aspects, and will be appropriate for different people.
In this series we're going to look at specific exercises and the pros and cons of doing them during pregnancy, so that you can decide for yourself if it's worth it
# 5 - Overhead/Shoulder Dumbbell Press
PROS - Strengthens the shoulders, triceps, forearms and core (especially if done unilaterally) - Improves shoulder stability - Is easy to modify - seated, standing, unilateral (one arm), bilateral, kneeling, half-kneeling - A pretty functional movement pattern (think putting a heavy box on a shelf) - "Mummy Tummy" friendly - won't worsen diastasis recti and as long as you are breathing correctly, won't damage the pelvic floor - It helps teach proper alignment
- Helps create "sculpted" arms, and a nice shoulder-boulder
- Builds muscle on the triceps (backs of the arms), an area that many women are keen to work on
CONS - If you have any shoulder injuries, this will irritate it - If you do not have full range of motion overhead, this will be challenging, or even impossible, for you to do well - You could drop the weight on your head, toe or growing belly (!) - Requires equipment
- Not the most 'functional' of movements for pregnant women - doesn't mimic the movements they do most often.
CONCLUSION This is a great exercise, and can be easily modified, as mentioned above, to take pressure off the pelvic floor, or suit your stage of pregnancy.
Since this is the smallest muscle group in the body, it requires little weight, which also reduces overall load on the pelvic floor.
Most women will neglect their shoulders, and they get very weak as a result. You wouldn't think of it as a "core" exercise, but the muscles of the core have to work extremely hard to steady the weight overhead, especially when it is heavy and even more so when it is done unilaterally.
My favourite variation for beginners is a half-kneeling dumbell press. It seems to challenge core stability and make correct alignment easier to achieve.
If you have limited mobility, it is important to work on you posture and mobility first, or this will be very difficult, if not impossible
ALTERNATIVES - Landmine press - Barbell press
- Incline Bench Press
WHAT ABOUT AFTER BIRTH?
This is exercise usually features in my post-partum programmes. It's safe for women with DR to do, and variations like the half-kneeling dumbell press above kill many birds with one stone in the sense that they require core stability (anti side-flexion), strengthen the shoulders (which is the first thing people will notice) and promote healthy shoulder range of motion.
birth? This should be one of the exercises that you prioritize after giving birth.
Final comments You may want to try using a barbell - it makes it more steady overhead (and more fun).