My Prenatal Fitness "Programme"
Now that I'm postpartum I want to share with you a retrospective view of my training through pregnancy.
I write "programme" in inverted commas, because it wasn't as structured as you might think – I did set out with a plan, and I adjusted the plan each month, but I never really stuck to it. I adapted it to how I was feeling (sometimes I didn't, I pushed myself against my better judgement, and those are the workouts I regret).
There were 3 major elements to the exercise that I did those past 9 months (well, it was more like 10 tbh)
Mobility and movement
I'm going to talk about the distribution of these in the context of the three different trimesters. It’s important to remember a couple of things here:
Pregnancy is dynamic – body shape, size, weight, the effect of hormones change throughout pregnancy. You're not in the same body, nor do you have the same limitations over those 9 months. This has implications for how you will train.
You also FEEL different emotionally from month to month, trimester to trimester, which will also have an impact on how you train. For me, there were lot of ups and downs, and the changes to my body, mind and exercise regimes don't fit neatly into trimesters or months. But for the sake of simplicity, I am going to divide it up into the 3 trimesters, as it does broadly fit into that schema I have not been quiet about the fact that I have found pregnancy mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. This affected how much exercise I could do.
Prior to pregnancy
To give some context, here’s what I was doing prior to getting pregnant:
I was training BJJ 2-3 times a week and strength training about twice a week (with a bit of conditioning probably once a week).
In terms of strength levels, here are some of my numbers:
Squat 45kg 5-10 reps
Deadlift 65kg 10 reps
Chinups x 10 unbroken, full range of motion
Bench press 40kg x 10 (yes, almost the same as my squat, which has always been my weakest lift)
Overhead press 30 kg x 5
My cardiovascular exercise was mainly coming from BJJ and rolling, and a bit of conditioning, or CrossFit style metcons when I couldn't get to the mat and running about 3-5K once in a while – whenever I couldn't get to the gym.
I was also playing around with some movement-based stuff, like Ido Portal, whenever I could (this would replace a strength session).
I was doing quite a lot – I wasn't at the height of my strength (lifetime PRs include:
12 strict pullups
24kg weighted chinup
100kg deadlift at 65kg bodyweight
65kg (bodyweight) squat for 5 reps
I had backed off on the maximal strength training as I wanted to focus more on BJJ and gymnastics-style stuff. It's important to know this baseline as it gives context. If you weren't doing this much activity, or working out this intensely, my prenatal programme might seem quite extreme to you, but if you were doing a lot more than me, you might be able to manage more during your pregnancy. It's all relative and so important to account for individual differences.