10 machines you should and shouldn't use at the gym when expecting.
Need a workout that will keep you active and fit throughout pregnancy? You may find that pregnancy and all the (not so) fun side effects that come with it slow you down. But lucky for you, that is no reason to put your gym membership on ice. You just have to approach your workouts, new or old, with caution.
The gym may feel intimidating at first, but fear not, we’ve got the goods on the machines that are safe (and those that aren’t), plus the best classes, cardio and weight training for pregnant women. Here’s your pregnant woman guide to the gym.
Treat with caution or don’t use.
1. Abdominal Bench. As the name suggests, this bench, which is usually on an angle and works your abs, is target for your core. While you are pregnant, don't push yourself too much. There are gentler ways to maintain some core strength.
2. Bench press. Whenever you see guys lying on their backs and grunting trying to push out that barbell with several hundreds of pounds on it, keep walking. After the first trimester, lying on your back is strongly discouraged and you certainly don’t need to be pressing a weight off of your (expanding) chest.
3. Kettlebells. While they would be safe to use with a personal trainer, you shouldn’t attempt to swing them by yourself. The risk of injuring your lower back or pulling other muscles in your neck and back by lifting heavy kettlebells is too high.
4. Leg Extension Machine. This seated exercise where you extend your legs from a bent knee seems fine in theory, but the strain it poses on your lower abdominals and lower back is too much during pregnancy. Even low weights could potentially strain your belly too much and cause problems, such as diastasis recti.
5. Hyper extension bench. This machine normally works your back by placing your legs and lower abs on the machine and then lifting yourself up to a straight position, using your back muscles. When you are pregnant, you will most likely not be able to work around your bump, and the risk of falling is too high.
Use these machines for cardio and strength.
6. Treadmill. The treadmill is great to avoid falling or tripping outside and to be able to use year-round. Try and power walk or even run on it for great cardio. For added benefits, try walking slowly but at an incline of two percent to break a sweat.
7. Cables and pulleys. Sitting on a bench, you can do lat pulls both in front of your chest and behind your back to help your posture during pregnancy. If you are standing, you can challenge your stability in a lunge by pulling the cable towards you. Don’t use heavy weights, but focus on more repetitions.
8. Rowing machine. This is a great machine to work your cardio in a seated position. Make sure to really push into the legs to move the seat, and then pull the arms in to get a full body workout.
9. The Elliptical. You have probably made out a theme here. For low impact but a running-like motion, the elliptical is your machine. You can get a good cardio workout that is easier on your joints as you get bigger. For added variety, try pedaling both forward and then backward for a few minutes to target different muscle groups.
10. Exercise balls and Free weights. There are many upper body and arm exercises that you can do safely with smaller weights such as biceps curls and triceps extensions. Focus on doing one arm at a time, and place your feet hip width for a good foundation. The exercise ball is great for bridges lying on your back and lifting your hips with your legs on the ball, or you can just sit on it and bounce, which is a technique used during labor to help women relieve the pain.
Hopefully you will feel good enough throughout your pregnancy to make use of some the machines and exercises mentioned above. Let us know in the comments if you need additional suggestions and how you stayed fit while pregnant.