How To Stay Fit In The Third Trimester
Saying fit and active while pregnant can be immensely rewarding and beneficial (check out how to rock trimesters one and two). But that doesn’t make it easy! And heading into the third trimester can prove even more challenging.
I was active prior to both of my pregnancies. I love lifting weights, dancing, running on occasion and generally am a fitness junkie. But pregnancy changes everything (read my struggles of being pregnant and a fitness junkie here).
I’m extremely thankful that throughout my pregnancies I’ve been able to maintain my fitness and stay active. But the third trimester is probably the hardest.
Between the weight gain (I’ve always gained the most weight in third trimester), swelling, tiredness and general cramping and ugh feeling (yes, that’s a feeling), working out seems to be pretty irrelevant.
But now is when you need activity the most.
Your body is quite literally preparing for labor. This means that it is getting ready to rock one of the most challenging scenarios it could ever encompass. Would you run a marathon without having trained for it? Probably not.
And on top of the actual labor is recovery. The more prepped your body is, the stronger your body is, the better your recovery will be.
This isn’t to say that you need to work out like you’re giving birth everyday (please don’t, that doesn’t sound remotely safe). But it does mean you should stay active.
Depending on your previous fitness level and of course your pregnancy, this could be as simple as making sure you go for a walk every day. For me, this means I still rock my workouts but they’re a bit shorter, a bit lighter on the weights and have a few more rest times.
I’ll be posting a blog post soon about my favorite labor prepping exercises but here’s a few guidelines to maintain your fitness level through your third trimester.
Workout In The Morning
If at all possible, workout earlier in the morning before your day wears you down. If you’re anything like me, I have a good amount of energy until about 11am and then everything seems to taper off. If you can find 20-30 minutes to be active in the am it’ll be well worth it.
Also, if you’re rocking a summer pregnancy, you tend to be less swollen in the morning making activity more comfortable and practical.
Like I mentioned above- your workouts don’t need to be overly intense. You’re growing a baby so take it easy! Instead, rest when need it throughout reps and sets and be careful pushing yourself. Make sure you’re able to hold a conversation (read: breathe normally) throughout most of your workout.
Take breaks, drink water and basically have common sense. Your goal is to do something beneficial for your body not to cause you and the babe more stress.
Focus on Small Muscle Groups
While I love lifting and compound movements, the third trimester is a great time to focus on all those fun little muscles that make a world of difference. Your hips and stabilizers in general should be targeted.
Not only is working the smaller muscle groups helpful in terms of labor prep but it also helps because they’re less intense for you to perform. Take it slow, ensure you’re contracting the actual muscle and reap the rewards of isolation training.
Work The Back Of The Body
This is something you should do always. ALWAYS. But even more so in pregnancy and third trimester. Obviously by now your center of gravity has changed due to your expanding belly and it only gets more difficult constantly holding a newborn!
Pay specific attention to the hamstrings, glutes and upper back muscles to help relieve any postural pain and prepare you for post birth.
Don’t Push Yourself
Now, I’m all about pushing yourself in the gym. But the truth is, toward the end of your third trimester it’s not necessary. Take it slow, aim for smaller movements and while your muscles should fee worked it should be in a good way.
If you’re excessively sore, breathless or fatigued you’re pushing too hard. Scale back- you need that energy for labor!
Avoid Most Front Loaded Exercises
As your baby grows so does your belly (what?! Really??). this means there’s excessive strain placed upon the tissues connecting your abs. Instead of training and straining those tissues more, opt to give them a lending hand.
In a prone position (like a plank) you belly is hanging down and gravity is pulling it. This creates a lot of pressure on muscles and tissues that are already working hard! While some women don’t have issues with this strain, most do. So if you notice a lack of control through the midsection with exercises like push ups, planks, anything suspended you should avoid them.
Instead, take lower level options like wall or bench push ups, bird dog for your core etc.
Strengthen Your Body
If you’re having a normal pregnancy and feel up to it, strength training during pregnancy and third trimester is amazing. It’ll prepare you for labor and recovery immensely as well as help alleviate pregnancy pain symptoms.
This doesn’t mean you need to lift uber heavy. Adding external resistance with bands, trx straps or lighter weights is amazing.
Training in the third trimester is a bit different for every woman. Below is an idea of what my workouts looked like at 33 weeks pregnant.
A1. Banded Goblet Squat
A2. Trx Low Row
B1. Banded Sumo Walks
B2. 1 Arm DB Row
B3. Standing Band Hip Thrust
C1. Reverse Lunges
C2. Parlof Presses
My focus for my workouts is to train the back of my body with a big emphasis on hips and glutes as well as to keep my workouts quick (about 30 minutes). My sets are higher repetitions than normal for me because my weights are lower.
This may not be the case for you, but every little bit helps.
Don’t forget to pin these pregnancy tips!
Staying strong and active throughout your third trimester is challenging but rewarding. You’re battling fatigue and every day feels different. Help your body prepare for labor by remaining active but remember not to push yourself. Movement should feel good and the goal should be to reduce pregnancy related symptoms and prepare for recovery- not to be in the best shape of your life 😉