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How exercise is looking for me at 35 weeks pregnant

As I find myself firmly in the third trimester I wanted to share a pregnancy training update, to see how I've adapted things as this pregnancy draws (scarily quickly) to its end and I get closer to having my second baby (!!!) There haven't been loads of changes to my overall exercise routine compared to the one I shared back in January at 20 weeks pregnant, but certainly a few more adaptations have been needed as baby, and subsequently bump, continue to grow.

Just as was the case back in January, this post isn't shared with the intent of acting as a prescription for any and every other pregnant woman who wants to exercise in pregnancy. Rather I want it to act as insight into just a few forms of exercise that are still perfectly safe (advisable, even) through pregnancy and, where necessary, how they can be adapted to suit the needs of the ever changing pregnant body.

Monday: Traditional strength training - upper body

Purely because I've been enjoying splitting up my strength training days, I've started doing 2 strength sessions a week where 1 focusses on upper body and the other focusses on lower body. This 'body building' style of training isn't something I did much of pre-pregnancy, but I've been enjoying having a different focus and actually think it's something I'll include more of even when I'm no longer pregnant.

I've been particularly focussed on working on back strength recently, to stand me in good stead for when baby is born and all the breast or bottle feeding, baby carrying, and sitting more than usual can contribute to back pain.

Tuesday: CrossFit class

As was the case back in January, the Tuesday CrossFit class at my gym remains predominantly strength focussed. The class usually includes 15 minutes of olympic lifting and 15-20 minutes back squat. The final 15 minutes of the class has been variable recently, but still pretty strength focussed.

Adjustments: I've carried on with olympic lifting much longer than I expected to. I always said I would eliminate these movements when my bump starts to impede my bar path for lifts like snatch or cleans, but so far (I think?!) I've been able to keep good form. That being said, I definitely felt more aware of it in the session this morning, and feel the time has come to substitute. I'll likely switch these movements out for something like deadlifts where there's less concern over "bumping the bump". Much in the same way as I did through second trimester, I'm still performing strength movements like squats and deadlifts but working at lower percentages where I can move smoothly without having to brace or bear down.

Wednesday: Rest/Active recovery day

With work remaining busy and lots of clients on a Wednesday, often I struggle to get out of the gym even for a walk! I find I get a bit of cabin fever not moving and actually feel more stiff for it. I've started squeezing in 30-45 minutes of zone 2 cardio instead, where I maintain around 60% of my maximum heart rate. Usually this is sitting on a bike, or I mix it up between the bike and the ski erg when I get bored of the bike.

Thursday: CrossFit class

Thursday classes, unlike Tuesday, are pretty mixed in terms of programming. Often it involves an element of 'metabolic conditioning' and an element of lifting. The former tend to be high intensity, cardio focussed workouts and can include a huge range of movements. You might see erg based exercises like rowing, biking, skiing, gymnastic movements like pull ups and toes to bar, weightlifting movements like squats, cleans, presses, thrusters, and/or high impact movements like burpees and box jumps.

Adjustments: I stick to the static bike or assault bike for erg based exercises now. I can still use the ski erg but I find I need to concentrate more on controlling tension through my core so it's not an ideal choice for this fast paced format. Rowing just feels uncomfortable now my bump gets in the way so I avoid that. Gymnastic movements have been pretty much eliminated. Any form of pull up is now substituted for ring rows, whilst I substitute Toes to Bar for things like lunges, glute bridges or side bends. As was the case back at 20 weeks, handstands are out. I switch for movements like seated overhead press or push press. For the high impact movements: I've switched burpees to "no press" burpees where my arms stay straight as I jump (or step, depending how I feel that day) out to high plank position and back in. Going to the floor isn't any good for me as, not only is bump very much in the way, I can't control core tension at all when I jump back in. In the next few weeks I might need to scale these back further with 'burpees to box' where I place my hands on a bench or box rather than all the way to the floor, but I just plan to see how they go. I continued with skipping right up until last week when it just didn't feel good anymore. I could feel the weight of baby much more than I had done previously so I switched out (and will now continue to switch out) for the bike where impact is lower. Box jumps haven't actually come up for a while so I haven't done them, but given how skipping feels now I'll be switching out the jumps or box step overs instead. Friday: Swimming I've really got into my swimming this pregnancy and have really enjoyed doing something new and different. I've been sticking to one swim a week and have seen loads of progress since I started in January - I managed to complete 100 lengths in less than an hour! It's a nice zone 2 form of cardio, my heart rate stays around 60-70% and I can get 45 minutes of consistent movement in without having to worry about managing impact on my core and pelvic floor. I've also noticed an improvement in my overall upper body strength which, given that I've not been pushing weights in the gym, I can only attribute to the addition of swimming in my exercise routine.

Saturday: Traditional strength training - lower body

As I mentioned in my 'Monday' summary - I've been splitting my strength sessions into upper and lower days. I've been trying to include lots of glute strength work this pregnancy to help support my back both during and after pregnancy. I lost a lot of this during my pregnancy with Thea and suffered with a fair bit of lower back pain after she was born so seeing if I can be proactive in preventing that this time around. These sessions include movements are typically light-moderate weight with high reps, including movements such as Romanian deadlifts, step ups, Bulgarian split squats, lunges, glute bridges, etc.

Sunday: Rest

A little note on running in case anyone was wondering. Back at 20 weeks I was still running between 5-8km a week, but I've now pressed pause on my runs. I continued up until 32 weeks gestation, at which point it felt the right time for me to stop. I was still enjoying running and felt ok (albeit it slow) whilst I was doing it, but it was certainly feeling harder and then I experienced some aching/soreness in my pelvis the day after my run. I took this as an indication that the consistent impact of running was at this stage putting too much strain on my (already somewhat strained) body. I'm pleased to have continued up to that point, but proud of myself for being able to put ego aside and recognise when my body said it was time to stop for now.

Feeling very grateful for my body at this point and appreciating my position of privilege to have been able to continue with what feels like a relatively "normal" exercise routine for me thus far. I hope I can keep moving right until the end as it does so much for my mental (as well as my physical) health, continuing to adjust and adapt as needed.

If you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy and want to know more about training safely throughout I am always very happy to offer advice and guidance. I'm not taking on new clients right now as I'm at capacity and due to be on maternity leave for a couple months from the end of May, but if you'd like to be added to a wait list for personal training in Bristol or personal training in Weston-super-Mare for when I return in September then get in touch.

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