Variety is the spice of (prenatal fitness) life

Should you stick with what you’re a “pro” at or add a little variety? Ovia guest expert Kira examines why overtraining in one area may be counterproductive during pregnancy. She also has a few tips on how to craft your best prenatal fitness routine.

I love conquering a certain type of exercise. Through phases of my life, I’ve been a basketball fanatic (played on three teams year-round!), a running junkie, a spinning addict (when I was an instructor), a yoga devotee and more. I have friends who feel like they have to do penance if they miss a CrossFit class, and friends who love two-a-days (Barre and spinning in the same day, anyone?).

Having more recently come to a place of balance in my fitness routine, I started to seriously assess what type of programming would work best for me during pregnancy. Because of past exercise choices or genetics, I have terribly tight hamstrings, but flexible hips. However, these two go hand-in-hand. If I overdo it on exercise that doesn’t promote any lateral movement (e.g., exclusively running and biking), I’ll continue to over-tighten areas that I should be loosening as I prep for labor.

Additionally, I needed to add in considerations of how my body was changing during pregnancy. Although I’ve been lucky to avoid back pain, I’ve dealt with three months of chronic rib pain on my right side. Since I didn’t anticipate this, I had to make some fitness sacrifices to avoid aggravating that area. I’ve also added in routines that help open the rib cage and promote circulation (more yoga!).

Here’s how to assess what might work for you:

  • Have you had any sports injuries in the past?
  • Torn ACL from soccer? Rotator cuff surgery from swimming? With the many physical changes happening in the body during pregnancy, some old injuries may flare up. Be aware of what they are, and if they start to give you warning signals.
  • What keeps you motivated?
  • Being with Peers Vs. Self Motivation:
  • Are you self-motivated, or do you want to be in a group class with other moms-to-be? Identify what motivates you to be active and accountable.
  • The Type of Exercise:
  • Does the thought of walking for an hour bore you to tears? Try adding in small jogging intervals (60 seconds), or stop to do a quick lower body workout every 5 minutes. The most important thing here is picking an exercise that leaves you stimulated.
  • Do a personal energy assessment.
  • Once you have your list of preferred exercises in front of you, try each out and take note of how you feel before and after. Walking and jogging might leave you feeling refreshed, while weight training may leave you drained. Be mindful of how you feel when scheduling certain types of workouts.
  • What are your fitness goals?
  • Do you want to maintain a certain level of fitness? Reduce stress? Actively prep for a natural labor? Simply reap the benefits of exercise during pregnancy (e.g., better digestion, better sleep, etc.)? Match up your goals with the other considerations, and start narrowing down (or increasing) your options.

Not only do I have multiple goals, but I have different goals for each trimester. My current schedule incorporates walking/running, interval training, bodyweight training, resistance training, yoga, and meditation. Each of these fulfills my needs, while rejuvenating me at the same time. And although I am generally content working out on my own, I can’t stop thinking about my new, soon-to-be training buddy.