Fit for Two: Maintaining Muscle Mass While Pregnant

By: StacyAtZeel

Exercise may be great for you and your baby, says a new study published in the March edition of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. The study, which evaluated 45 healthy pregnant women-15 who rarely exercised, 15 who regularly exercised and 15 who were highly active before their pregnancies-looked at the fetal response to physical activity, concluding that women can in fact exercise throughout their pregnancy (of course, at the discretion of their physician) without causing harm to their baby.
Remember that a pregnant woman does weighted squats each time she gets up and downRemember that a pregnant woman does weighted squats each time she gets up and down
While the good news is that you don't have to cancel your membership at Equinox, you may still be wondering how you can work out in a way that retains the muscle you worked so hard to build pre-bump.

What can you do at the gym to avoid losing muscle mass during pregnancy? Zeel fitness experts from around the country weigh in.

Light weights, more reps.
Elite Conditioning owner Jon McQueen suggests light to moderate resistance bands and dumbbells. "Since high-intensity exercises are out of the question, especially during your second and third trimester," says Jon, "I recommend working out at a higher volume." That means more reps, lighter weights, and a moderate number of sets.

Find a pool. Swimming and other activities performed in a pool can be great for low-impact resistance training-not to mention adequate aerobic and anaerobic exercise, says Kaal Nath, a certified personal trainer based in Hoover, Ala. Don't love the lap lane? Try aquatic Zumba.

Isometric exercises. D.C. trainer Anthony McElroy proposes moderate resistance training using dumbbells, machines, rubber tubing and even your own body weight. How to do it? "Isometric exercises involve placing a group of muscles in a contracted state and holding that contraction for a given length of time," he says.

Pilates. As a form of exercise, Pilates has an inimitable ability to strengthen the pelvic floor, says Pilates expert Halle Clarke. This includes the transverse abdominis and the lumbar multifidus. This "inner unit" of core muscles (and other muscles too) are placed under an incredible amount of strain for many months, so the more awareness a woman can have of her inner core, the more pain-free the pregnancy can be.