Can you lift weights while pregnant? Good news—for most women, the answer is yes!
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) confirms that resistance exercises, including lifting weights and using resistance bands, are safe for pregnant women.
Other types of exercise that are also safe (and recommended) during pregnancy include: dancing, stretching, aerobics and water aerobics, walking, and stationary cycling.
Just make sure that you check with your healthcare provider that it’s safe for you to include weights in your workout.
And be ready to adapt your exercise regime as your body changes over the course of your pregnancy.
Let’s find out more.
In this article: 📝
- Health benefits of weight lifting while pregnant
- How much weight can you lift when pregnant?
- Lifting weights while pregnant: Safety tips
- Pregnancy weight lifting: FAQs
Health benefits of weight lifting while pregnant
Provided you proceed with caution, lifting weights while pregnant isn’t just safe—it can be great for your health, too.
According to ACOG, exercise during pregnancy can improve both moods and your fitness levels, help you manage pregnancy weight gain, and might increase your chances of having a vaginal delivery.
It could also reduce your risk of:
- Gestational diabetes
- Preterm birth
- Having a baby with lower birth weight
- Postpartum depression
Plus, weight lifting in particular can strengthen your back muscles and increase your core strength.
Are there any reasons why you shouldn’t lift weights while pregnant?
Certain health conditions may mean that weight lifting while pregnant isn’t safe for you.
It’s particularly important that you check in with your doctor if you have one of these conditions:
- Heart or lung disease
- Severe anemia
- A cervical cerclage
- Placenta previa
Or if you’re pregnant with twins or other multiples.
They might recommend leaving the weights on the rack and trying a different kind of exercise for the time being.
How much weight can you lift when pregnant?
There’s no hard and fast rule here. It all depends on:
- Your fitness level before pregnancy
- How much weight you’re used to lifting
- What trimester you’re in
- Your health and how you’re feeling
A good general principle? Use lighter weights and do more repetitions.
That way you’ll still work up a sweat, but your risk of injury is lower.
Remember that your joints and ligaments are looser during pregnancy (thanks hormones!), which means you’ve got a higher chance of sustaining strains and sprains through exercise.
Best to take it a little easier than you’re used to.
Lifting weights while pregnant: Safety tips
So, what can you do to stay safe when lifting weights while pregnant?
First, moderate rather than vigorous exercise is best.
During pregnancy, a good rule of thumb is to aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
One way to measure the intensity of your exercise is the talk test.
Basically, if you can still hold a conversation while you’re exercising, that’s moderate rather than vigorous exercise.
Also, some resistance exercises are best left out of your pregnancy workout.
After your first trimester, try to avoid:
- Any exercises where you lie on your back
- Lifting weights above your head
- Exercises where you need to bend over at the waist
At all points of your pregnancy, steer clear of:
- Exercises where there’s a risk of you hitting your bump
- Any exercises that could squish your bump (a non-modified push-up, for example)
- Vigorous exercise
And here are a few more tips for safe pregnancy weight lifting:
- Start small if you’re not used to exercising. Try just a few repetitions with some very light weights and gradually increase the intensity.
- Focus on a whole body workout rather than working certain muscle groups (to reduce pain and swelling in those areas).
- Make sure your footing is secure before you start lifting.
- Focus on your breathing—breathe out as you lift and in as you lower.
- Try wearing a belly band to support your growing bump.
Finally, stop exercising and see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Decrease in your baby’s movements
- Leaking amniotic fluid
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
- Calf pain or swelling
Pregnancy weight lifting: FAQs
How long can you lift weights while pregnant?
As with the amount of weight you can lift, there’s no hard and fast rule here.
It depends on your personal fitness levels and your health during pregnancy.
Be prepared to do less than you would when you’re not pregnant.
Can I do heavy lifting in early pregnancy?
If your job involves regularly lifting heavy loads, talk to your doctor about how you can ensure your safety in the workplace during your pregnancy.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offers these guidelines so that both employers and employees can make safe decisions.
They take into account the kind of lifting you might be performing, how far along you are in your pregnancy, and how these factors may affect your spine.
Can I do squats while pregnant?
Yep, feel free to include squats as well as weights in your pregnancy workout.
Find out more in this article: Can You Do Squats While Pregnant?
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