Involving a combination of various exercises performed with short rest periods in between, circuit training is one of the most effective and efficient workout regimen to help keep you in shape. The amount of flexibility available to you during circuit training is limitless, with the majority being focused on improving one’s cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength endurance.
The benefits are far-reaching and include both physical and mental with regular exercise and circuit training leading to lower risks of cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, stroke and heart attack as well as decreased risk of injuries and osteoporosis later in life. At the same time, regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise (i.e. cardio) is great for regulating appetite, weight control, and having better quality sleep at nights.
For many women however, physical exercises, self-care can become a challenge during pregnancy. Suddenly everything that you do revolves around the baby to be and reassessing everything you once did becomes the norm. However, it is important to note that fitness is always beneficial. Here are some important tips to keep in mind while circuit training during pregnancy:
Keep it Steady
When it comes to most things, a stable routine is one that’s most effective instead of an irregular one with short bursts. Aerobic exercise (i.e. running, swimming, cycling, yoga, and more) shouldn’t be an issue unless you currently find yourself with a medical condition such as any type of heart disease, type 1 uncontrolled diabetes, bleeding and/or a weak cervix during pregnancy.
Don’t let your heart rate exceed 140 beats per minute by maintaining an upbeat but not overly intense workout regime. Drag out your cardio sessions by doing medium intensity intervals followed by regular short breaks. If you have never exercised before, consult with a health care provider before developing an exercise plan. Don’t try any new and/or strenuous activities.
Wear Supportive Clothing
Workout leggings, tops, supportive sport bras and belly bands can be a big help during exercise to help keep the big belly out of the way by ensuring that you can gets align with your exercise while ensuring that the baby remains secure, thereby reducing the risk of you falling ro injuring yourself, and god forbid, the baby.
Drink Plenty of Water
While drinking water before, during and after a workout may seem a given, it is even more crucial during pregnancy. Drinking water keeps you hydrated, refreshed and ready for more. Waiting until after your workout to drink can leave you dehydrated and exhausted which in pregnant individuals is more likely to lead to dizziness, nausea and more.
The Health Benefits/Drawbacks
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG), exercising during pregnancy can lead to lower rates of preterm births, caesarean birth, lower birth weights and more. It has also been shown to be correlated with reduced levels of abc pain, better managing of pregnancy symptoms such as anxiety and depression as well as an excellent way to improve postpartum recovery.
Once again, if done right and in the right conditions, exercise can only help. However, if you are dealing with some form of heart and/or lung disease preeclampsia or high blood pressure for the first-time during pregnancy, cervical problems, vaginal bleeding or placenta problems, you should probably avoid any taxing physical activities.
Otherwise, make sure to take it slow and steady, stay hydrated and stay safe. We're rooting for you. Here are some circuit training exercises recommended for different stages of pregnancy:
First Trimester Exercises:
It is recommended to follow a regime of 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity each week as well as 2 to 3 days of strength training targeting the major muscle groups. Some of these exercises include:
I) Pelvic Curl and Pelvic Brace
Both of these exercises strengthen the pelvis and prepare you for labour. It may seem a world away, but it'll happen before you know it.
II) Kneeling Push Ups
Used to target your core and upper body, this involves lying flat on your stomach before pushing up onto your hands and knees. Remember that these are NOT regular pushups which might prove too much for you during pregnancy, always do something you feel comfortable with.
One of these easiest exercises to do wherever you want or by using a leg press machine at the gym or purchasing one from a fitness store for your very own home gym, squats are a great full-body exercise to strengthen the entire lower body including quads, glutes and hamstrings.
Second Trimester Exercises:
Since this is the point in which your uterus expands the most in size, you need to become more selective in the exercises you partake in. This means no more high impact exercises involving jumping, running, balance or exhaustion. It is also advised to avoid any exercise that has you lying on your back for an extended period of time. Training the core should now become a top priority.
I) Side-lying Leg Lifts
An adaptation to ensure that you don’t lie on your back for too long, this exercise helps with balance and assist in pelvic stabilisation, crucial for labour and your final trimester.
II) Mermaid Stretch
To ease any chest pain that you may be experiencing due to the pressure put on your diaphragm and ribs by your growing baby, mermaid stretches are a very useful tool to help you manage.
Simply sit on the ground on knees bent and feet facing to the right, then raise your left arm straight up while sidebending your torso to the right. You can repeat this vice versa for the other side.
Third Trimester Exercises:
As your body prepares for childbirth, this is the perfect time to focus on cardiovascular activities while keeping up your mobility and abdominal strength.
The perfect low-impact exercise muscle conditioning exercise for the whole body, pilates are great for improving flexibility and core strength while keeping you and the baby safe.
II) Prenatal Yoga
A multifaceted approach including gentle stretching, proper posture, breathing exercises and of course, meditation, prepare yourself for the stresses of childbirth and rearing with a mindful approach.
Working Out at Home
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