What exercise intensities should I be working at during pregnancy?
12/07/2010

What exercise intensities should I be working at during pregnancy?

 

Pre and postnatal exercise has come a long way over recent decades with its benefits now widely established within the fitness industry, the one thing it still lacks however are clear guidelines on the intensity to which you should be exercising at prenatally.

 

RPE Scale

 

Initially heart rate was advised as a measurement for exercise intensity but due the massive individual differences a scale of 1-10 was then introduced. The rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scale is a scale of 1 -10 used to describe how hard you think you are working, with 1 being very, very light and 10 being maximal. When pregnant you should be working between 5-7, however this does depend on your fitness level prior to getting pregnant, those women who stayed farily fit prior to pregnancy can work more towards a 7 and those that have only just started to exercise more towards a 5. Regardless of what intensity you work at it's also important to do make sure you breathe properly, stay adequately hydrated and wear light breathable clothing.

 

Intensity for CV (cardiovascular) work

 

During pregnancy it's important to not work at a constant high intensity, rather it's better for you to do intervals training. Again your pre-pregnancy fitness level is important, if you stayed fit prior to pregnancy then again you can stay closer to a 7, less fit closer to 5. Just make sure you don't run at 7 for 25 minutes! Those who are fitter can perform cardio for between 20-25 minutes, whilst those who are less fit should build it up starting at 15 minutes.

 

Intensity for Resistance Exercise

 

Here are the guidelines for resistance exercise:

 

  • 1st Trimester – 2 sets of 15-20 reps, 60s rest beween sets

  • 2nd Trimester – 2 sets of 10-15 reps, 60s rest between sets

  • 3rd Trimester – 2 sets of 8-10 reps, 60s rest between sets

 

By all means adhere to these guidelines if you wish but form our experience this is very restrictive, therefore we perform more setes and have less rest but place more of an emphasis on the RPE scale, for some women performing 2 sets may be difficult for them, but for someone who is used to training they may prefer 3 sets of 15 with 30s rest. Rather than stipulating reps and sets you should listen to your body, stay within the ranges of 5-7, stay properly hydrated, breath properly during any exercise you perform and take rest when you feel you need to.

 

 

 

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