Staying Fit through Pregnancy | Carissa Johnson

May 3, 2016

Pregnancy is beautiful. It's a miraculous experience in every way. Words can't describe how excited I am to meet our little one in just a matter of months. I'm writing this at nearly 30 weeks and the pregnancy has really flown by. 

From the best shape of my life to your classic prego physique, pregnancy is quite the journey. Keeping up a fit pregnancy has been a fun challenge. I've learned a lot, and continue to learn the further along I get. Transitioning from a great deal of HIIT training to a more balanced, calm approach to training has been interesting to say the least. In addition, diastasis recti became apparent pretty early on in my pregnancy, causing me to be incredibly cautious with any exercise or movement involving abs in order to prevent any further damage (since crunches and oblique work can be detrimental with this condition). There are a select number of exercises that are okay to do with this condition, but they all vary significantly from my pre-pregnancy workouts and exercises. 

I've found there are countless so-called "experts" and opinions on pregnancy fitness, but I've been extremely careful about what information I pay attention to. As a CSCS, I've found it extremely important to pay attention to scientifically based information. With this in mind, I've briefly recapped my fitness journey during this pregnancy thus far below.

The first trimester consisted of proceeding with a good amount of caution in my training. Protecting my baby and myself caused me to slow down and back off quite a bit. I still managed to push through cardio and lightweights in spite of mild nausea and exhaustion.

The second trimester was a nice change; with less nausea, less concerns, and a little more energy I was able to pick up my training a bit more. I was able to increase intensity during cardio a notch and finally had the energy to start focusing on different body groups again on different days rather than just doing a few full body exercises to keep me in shape. Getting back to more of my old school way of training has definitely been beneficial to my psyche. Although I still mostly train with lighter weights and higher reps, I've managed to regain some of the muscle I lost during my first trimester due to nausea, etc. 

I've had fun experimenting and testing my limits (with caution of course) in my pregnancy. From pullups to pistol squats, it's been interesting to see how much I can still do. The relaxin hormone has been a significant limit in my training however, effecting stability and putting additional stress on my joints - especially my ankles and wrists. For example, while I can successfully complete 100 pistol reps I pay for it not with muscle soreness, but as I get further along in pregnancy it takes a toll on my ankles with the additional challenge relaxin creates for balance. Also, with the instability in my wrists, lifting heavy is simply a bad idea. 

As the second trimester went on I felt myself wearing down easily after a good 45 min stairmaster and weight training session. While I attributed it simply to pregnancy, I later found out I am highly anemic. Thankfully, once I discovered that information I was able to supplement with iron, which has helped make a difference in my training energy levels. 

As I'm now in the final stretch, the 3rd trimester, I'm continuing cardio and weights as I can although the additional weight is definitely taxing. That, and shortness of breath makes training a bit more challenging. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to safely continue training, but for right now I'm thankful to have the ability and opportunity... but I'm taking it day by day. 

Having to "take it easy" has definitely ignited my training fire. I'm already dreaming of my post-partum workouts, and looking forward to supplementing with my fav products: HMB, BetaTOR and PEAK ATP to whip this prego body back into the best shape of my life (and asap)!!

- Carissa Johnson, WBFF Pro

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