5 Tips for Exercise Post Pregnancy




Now that baby is here, some women feel they are ready to continue their exercise routine or start a new one. Exercising can help restore muscle strength, firm your body, help you lose weight and provide more energy.  Even if you feel ready within the first few weeks of giving birth, any exercises done should primarily be to help with relaxation and emotional well-being.  Barring any complications such as bleeding or discomfort, most women get the go ahead to participate in exercise at their six week post partum check up, typically longer for a c-section delivery.


As you ease back into exercise (note the easing part), you will want to determine whether the separation of the abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) that occurs during pregnancy is healing normally. Throughout pregnancy your abdominal muscles have been stretched and weakened. After delivery, these weakened muscles may cause lower back pain or you may have trouble lifting. You may notice a bulge in your stomach or feel the separation when you tense the muscles. Diastasis recti usually heals on its own after several months and exercise may help the condition.  Your healthcare provider will be able to determine if you are healing normally and are able to begin more intense exercises.


You’re Given the Green Light to Exercise, Now What?


  1. Your first and most important goal should consist of building and strengthening your core and pelvic floor not unlike your pregnancy exercises. Bridges, planks and kegels are some examples of those first exercises that should be introduced to your postpartum workout.

  3. Give yourself credit. You might be tired and stressed, but fitting in some exercise can help boost your mood, reduce your stress and give you some time to unwind. The energy that comes from your workout can help care for your newborn.

  5. Stay hydrated. Be mindful to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. This is especially crucial for breast feeding women because you lose fluids during nursing sessions.

  7. Wear a properly supported bra.

  9. Get rest. It’s hard to find the time, but even building a few minutes of rest into your post workout can help rejuvenate you.


Once you have followed your recovery recommendations and feel sufficiently ready to exercise, you might need some ideas on what to do. Contact us to get started!


Weight Loss 1


  1. “Postpartum Fitness… and Beyond”. Accessed 12, March 2015. La Leche League International. http://www.llli.org/nb/nbiss1-10p4.html
  2. “Getting in Shape After your Baby is Born”. Accessed 12, March 2015. American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq131.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20121001T1136080662
  3. “Diastasis Recti”. Accessed 12, March 2015. U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001602.html
  4. Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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B3 Personal Training is going to the Baby Expo


We have been invited to participate in the Babies R Us Baby Expo!


The Baby Expo is an in- store event filled with lots of vendors including pediatricians, baby products and financial advisors. This is a hands on experience that allows new parents to start their registries, talk with professionals and get advice. I will be there representing B3 Personal Training as the prenatal fitness expert and we are proud to be able to share our expert advice on prenatal and postnatal exercise, much of which has been shared in our recent blog posts series over the past few weeks. There will be lots of giveaways and demonstrations.


We would love to see some familiar faces and hope you can make it to the store. The event is Saturday May 30th, from 1-3 at the Montgomeryville Babies R Us on Bethlehem Pike. Spread the word!


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Gestational Diabetes: What you need to know


Diabetes that develops during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes and affects over 9% all pregnant women. While there are uncertainties as to the cause, scientists believe that the hormones that help a baby develop also restrict insulin’s activity in the mother’s body. This insulin resistance is the body’s inability to respond to and use the insulin it produces and results in elevated levels of blood sugar, also known as blood glucose.


Gestational diabetes starts when the body is not able to make and use the insulin it needs for pregnancy. The good news is that gestational diabetes typically goes away after the baby is born. It is important to know if you are at risk so that you can treat gestational diabetes and avoid health complications for your baby. Below we take a look at the risk factors and how gestational diabetes can be treated.


What are the risk factors?


  • You have had gestational diabetes before
  •  You are older than 25
  •  You are overweight or obese
  •  You have a family history of diabetes
  •  Non-caucasian race


How does gestational diabetes affect the baby?

If you have gestational diabetes, your baby may be at an increased risk of higher birth weight. The insulin in your bloodstream crosses the placenta and triggers the baby’s pancreas to make more insulin therefore making your baby grow larger. A larger baby can result in a c-section delivery. Another complication can include preterm delivery resulting in respiratory distress syndrome which makes breathing difficult.


How can I be treated?

The screening process includes drinking a syrupy glucose drink with a blood test to follow one hour later. Should your blood sugar be higher than normal, you will take a glucose tolerance test to see if you have diabetes. Once you have been screened by your doctor (immediately if you are high risk or between weeks 24-28 if you are not at high risk) and it has been confirmed that you have gestational diabetes, your doctor will have you check your blood sugar levels several times per day. You will also take urine tests to determine if your diabetes is under control. You may need insulin injections and you will be taught how to perform the procedure. Your doctor will also track your weight very closely.


How do I help lower my risk of gestational diabetes? 

One of the best ways to lower your risk of gestational diabetes is to exercise and make healthy food choices.


Exercise allows your body to lower your blood sugar by moving glucose into your cells, where it’s used for energy. Exercise also increases your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, which means your body will need to produce less insulin to transport sugar. With your doctor’s ok, aim for moderate intensity exercise most days of the week.


Eating the right kinds of food in healthy portions is one of the best ways to control your blood sugar. A healthy diet focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains- food high in nutrition and low in fat and calories. While it is not recommended to lose weight during pregnancy, making healthy choices during pregnancy can help lead to better choices post pregnancy.

The more healthy habits you can adopt before pregnancy will help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and lead to a healthier pregnancy. If you have additional questions about exercise and diabetes prevention, contact us.
1. “Gestational Diabetes”. Accessed 24, April 2015. Mayo Clinic.http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gestational-diabetes/basics/definition/con-20014854

2. “What is Gestational Diabetes?”. Accessed 24, April 2015. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/what-is-gestational-diabetes.html

3. “Gestational Diabetes”. Accessed 24, April 2015. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Diabetes_Basics/hic_Gestational_Diabetes

4) Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Exercise Induced Asthma: Know the Signs



May starts the peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers. In the US, approximately 25 million people have asthma of which almost 7 million are children.


Asthma vs. Allergies


Asthma is a disease of the lungs in which the airways become blocked or narrowed causing difficulty breathing. Since asthma is an disease you are typically born with there is no cause to the disease, but more likely a cause to what makes symptoms appear. These are called triggers and would lead to the signs and symptoms of asthma.


Triggers include:


1) Substances that cause allergies such as dust mites, pollen and pet dander

2) Irritants in the air such as cigarette smoke and fumes like gasoline and house paint

3) Colds and sinus infections (this is the #1 trigger for children)

4) Exercise induced asthma (EIA) triggered by physical activity that increases ventilation, the rate in which you breathe.  We’ll get to this more later.


Allergies are diseases of the immune system that cause an overreaction to substances called “allergens.” Allergies are grouped by the kind of trigger, time of year or where symptoms appear on the body.


What are the symptoms of allergies?


Symptoms of allergies can vary in severity from mild to moderate.

Mild allergy symptoms include:


  • Congestion
  • Skin rash
  • Itchy water eyes


Moderate allergy symptoms include:


  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Itchiness


What are the effects of asthma?

The effects of asthma are typically temporary and symptoms include:


  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest


Severe asthma symptoms can pose a much bigger problem.  They often begin with itching of the eyes and face, but soon progress to swelling, causing breathing difficulties, cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Confusion and dizziness are further symptoms of asthma.


A little more about Exercise Induced Asthma


EIA affects 80-90% of those that participate in vigorous activity.  When you exercise you breathe faster due to the increased oxygen demands of your body. Usually during exercise you inhale through your mouth, causing the air to be dryer and cooler than when you breathe through your nasal passages. This decrease in warmth and humidity both cause the restriction of the passageway. Symptoms usually start to appear a few minutes into the workout and can get worse a few minutes after stopping the exercise. The symptoms typically dissipate 30 minutes after stopping although sometimes there is a delay known as late phase in which symptom do not go away for up to 24 hours. EIA tends to be worse when exposed to cold air, high pollen counts, pollution and fumes.


If you feel that you are in great shape, yet have asthma symptoms it is important to be tested by a doctor. Sometimes people who exercise can get shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing and just be out of shape! Once you are diagnosed you can be treated with different medications.


How does EIA effect exercise?


Being diagnosed with exercise induced asthma should not stop a person from being active and working out, they will just need to be aware of a few things before embarking on an exercise program.  It is important to monitor respiratory function throughout the exercise session.  Warming up before working out is extremely helpful. Taking any prescribed medication before exercise is important as well.


The type of exercise should be noted as well. Short bursts of exercise with adequate rest is a good choice. Walking, swimming and biking are good cardiovascular options. Activities where you can breathe warm air instead of cold air is more tolerable and the best option.


It’s important to stay active to be healthy so don’t let exercise induced asthma stop you. Following a plan from your doctor to keep it under control, listening to your body and working out safely can keep EIA in check. For more information on an exercise plan, contact us.



1.”Exercise- Induced Asthma”. Accessed May 1, 2015. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of  America. http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=8&sub=17&cont=168

2. “Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month 2015”. Accessed May 1, 2015. What Health.  http://www.whathealth.com/awareness/event/asthmaallegerymonth.html

3. Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Learn How Massage Can Help Pregnancy


Pregnancy and Massage: A great way to relax



As exciting as pregnancy is, normal physical aches and pains along with emotional stressors can be present for the entire nine months.  The aches and pains are a result of physiological changes the body goes through when a woman becomes pregnant.  Carrying a baby changes your center of gravity and puts a lot of stress on your back, neck, abdominal muscles, and shoulders. The ligaments begin to relax, so that your pelvic joints are less stable.  The extra weight you are carrying changes your posture and pulls your pelvis forward.  One method of prenatal care to help with physical, emotional health and well being is massage therapy.  Below we will examine some of the benefits of massage therapy.


Benefits of Massage


There are many benefits of massage therapy, but we’ll take the time to highlight only a few here.


  • Hormone Regulation – Massage therapy performed during pregnancy may help regulate hormones primarily by decreasing levels of cortisol, a stress indicator that can reduce anxiety. Secondly, massage has the potential of increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine which are the “feel good” hormones that may decrease symptoms of depression. The relaxation of nervous tension can also benefit sleep.


  • Pain Relief – Massage therapy may aid in the relief of muscular aches and joint pain.


  • Control Swelling – Massage therapy may also help control edema, or swelling, caused by an increase in blood volume and pressure from the growing womb. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints. Stimulating the soft tissue works to pump blood containing energy-giving oxygen and nutrients into your cells and increases blood flow to the placenta.  Increased blood flow also improves the removal of tissue waste, carried by the body’s lymph system.


  • Sciatic Nerve Pain – Later in pregnancy as the baby gets heavier and the uterus presses on muscles of the pelvic floor and the lower back, women experience nerve pain. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell. Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles.


There’s so many massage techniques, which one is best for me?

There are varying techniques of massage including Swedish massage which is the recommended prenatal method. This method addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by the hormonal shifts in the body. The goal is to relax muscle tension and improve blood circulation through mild pressure applied to the muscle groups of the body.


As with any therapeutic practice, pregnant women will want to get medical clearance before beginning massage therapy. It is important to find a massage therapist that is certified in prenatal massage. Trained prenatal massage therapists are aware of pressure points on the ankles and wrists that can gently stimulate pelvic muscles, including the uterus. Certified prenatal massage therapists are trained to avoid very specific and intentional pressure to these areas during pregnancy. Any woman who has experienced pre-term contractions or consistent Braxton-Hicks contractions should alert her therapist to that fact so that pressure points can be avoided completely.


Radiance Spa at the Bucks Club in Jamison is an ideal place for a massage therapy treatment. They have licensed therapists who are trained in prenatal massage and their goal is to provide a retreat from chaotic routine and to help restore inner balance. With their signature maternity massage, pregnant women can relax and can feel the stress leaving just thinking about it!


  1. “Pregnancy Massage”. Accessed 8, April 2015. Massagetherapy.com http://www.massagetherapy.com/articles/index.php/article_id/44/Pregnancy-Massage
  2. “Massage and Pregnancy-Prenatal Massage”. Accessed 8, April 2015. American Pregnancy Association. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/prenatal-massage/


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Questions Answered About Pregnancy Nutrition



A key part of having a healthy pregnancy is what goes into your body or nutrition. Nutrition plays a complementary role throughout the trimesters and will help give you the energy to exercise safely. Jennifer Lynn-Pullman, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, of Nourished Simply shares the basics for pregnancy nutrition. We’d love to hear your questions!


Pregnancy Nutrition


Pregnancy is a time during a woman’s life when what she eats has a profound effect on her body and especially her unborn child.  A growing fetus gets all of its nutrients from the mother, so mom needs have adequate nutrients to share.  Of course it is best to make sure that your nutrition status is the best that it can be before you even become pregnant, but let’s face it not all pregnancies are planned.  Feeding your body the best sources of nutrients as soon as you know you are pregnant will help you have a healthy baby.


One of the misconceptions is that pregnancy requires a lot of additional calories.  You often hear people say “I am eating for two”.  This is far from true.  Extra calories are needed to support the growth of the baby and a woman’s’ growth, however this growth does not require a significant increase in calorie intake.  The first trimester is not a time of significant growth, so no additional calories are needed.  The second and third trimesters are a time of growth and an additional 300 calories per day is needed to support this growth.  Three hundred calories is basically an extra snack.


Weight Gain During Pregnancy


Exact weight gain varies and is dependent on a number of factors: a woman’s weight when she becomes pregnant, frame size, fluid retention as the pregnancy goes on to name a few. Here’s a breakdown of an average pregnancy for a medium build woman.


  • Fetus: 7.5-8.5 lbs.
  • Stores of fat and protein: 7.5 lbs.
  • Blood: 4.0 lbs
  • Tissue fluids: 2.7 lbs
  • Uterus: 2.0 lbs
  • Amniotic fluid: 1.8 lbs
  • Placenta and umbilical cord: 1.5 lbs
  • Breasts: 1.0 lbs
  • Total: 28-29 lbs

These are the numbers for an average pregnancy, NOT all pregnancies.  Your doctor is still the best resource to ask your weight related questions.

Other Important Nutrients


Many nutrient intake recommendations go up slightly during pregnancy.  Below are the most significant and the most important nutrients to be mindful of.


Protein: additional protein is needed to support the growth of the body.  Official recommendations are an additional 25 grams of protein per day above the RDA of 0.8g/kg of body weight.


For example, to find how many kilograms (kg) a person weighs:


Weight (kg) = Weight (lb) / 2.2

A 140 lb pregnant woman would weigh 63.6 kg.

Do some simple math:

63.6 kg * 0.8 g/kg = 50.9 g

50.9 g + 25 g (extra protein needed) = ~75 g/day protein

This is the recommended daily allowance or minimum to maintain health.

Calcium: 1000 mg/day
Folate: 600 mcg/day
Vitamin A: 770 mcg RE/day
Iron: 27 mg
These are guidelines to follow for a healthy pregnancy.  As always consult your physician or health provider before any changes in your diet or beginning any supplementation.  Also, proper nutrition is complemented by prenatal appropriate exercise.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact Jennifer of Nourished Simply!
Mahan, L.K and Escott-Stump, S. (2008). Nutrition During Pregnancy and Lactation. Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy, 12 Edition, 164-170

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Pregnancy and Climate: Beating the Elements While Working Out



As discussed in our last post, safely exercising while pregnant is beneficial for both mother and baby. That safety includes the climate in which we exercise. Environmental factors play a big role in keeping mom and baby safe and feeling good.  Here are three tips for future moms to exercise safely in hot and cold weather.


Hot and Cold Environments


In extreme high or low temperatures, skip the outdoor workout.  Trying to keep warm in the winter or in the already too hot summer will make regulating your core temperature a challenge. When you exercise, your body temperature can increase up to 20 degrees above the temperature outside. When you get too hot you can raise the temperature of the baby which can cause risks to their development.


Tip#1: Timing


In the summer, if you plan to do anything outside get out there early in the morning when temperatures are coolest. If you can’t work out in the morning plan to stay indoors in a cool environment.


If you exercise outside in the winter, try to do so before it gets too dark and avoid exercise that can lead to serious falls like snowboarding and sledding.  Your center of gravity has changed making it easier to stumble and fall and much harder to navigate snow and ice.  If you want to learn to ski, wait until next winter!


Whether you are pregnant in the winter or summer, you will want to follow the same general guidelines for working out safely.


Tip#2: Hydration


Stay hydrated. When it’s cold out you may not sweat as much as you would in the summer. It’s easy to forget that you need to drink plenty of water. Since you should be taking plenty of rest during your workout, drinking water during these rest periods is a good way to get your water intake. Make sure to hydrate before and after the workout as well.


Tip#3: Clothing


Wear breathable fabrics. Keep your core body temperature regulated by picking clothes that will dry quickly and wick away moisture. In the winter you might try dressing in layers. In the summer you can pay more attention to wearing lighter colors.


As always, listen to your body. Following these tips can help you during the harsh weather conditions. If you would like to have a fitness professional help you figure out a plan to stay safe and cool while working out during your pregnancy, get in touch with us!


Pregnant CTA2



  1. “Exercise During Pregnancy.” Accessed on 9, March 2015. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/exerciseduringpregnancy.pdf
  2. “Staying Active During Pregnancy- Winter Edition.”. Accessed 9, March 2015. March of Dimes. http://newsmomsneed.marchofdimes.org/?tag=pregnancy-during-the-winter
  3. “Pregnant This Summer? Beat the Heat.” Accessed on 9, March 2015. Webmd. http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/summer-pregnancy


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Balancing Your Pregnancy: Keeping Your Workouts Safe


Balancing your Pregnancy: Keeping your workouts safe while your body is changing



While exercising during pregnancy is recommended, it is important to make sure you are staying safe while doing so. Bear in mind all of the changes your body will be going through as you exercise. The same things you were doing before may become increasingly challenging or harmful due to these changes.  You will want to stick with a program you have been following pre-pregnancy or start a program that encourages a light to moderate intensity.


Concern #1: Balance


Balance may be affected by changes in posture, making pregnant women lose balance and increase their risk of falling. As weight is gained and gets redistributed, their whole center of gravity shifts.  And since the body may have no prior experience of its evolving center point, it is less coordinated at righting itself as necessary.


Concern #2: Joint Laxity


Another change during pregnancy is the laxity of ligaments caused by increased of levels of estrogen and relaxin. The loosening of the joints could make pregnant women be predisposed to sprains and strains specifically in the ankles, knees and wrists.


What can you do about it? 


The following tips can help keep you safe while you workout:


  • Incorporate balance exercises into your routine. One example is a balancing table. In the crawl position on hands and knees, extend one leg out while both hands remain on the mat. Switch sides. If you are feeling strong, attempt to extend one leg out as well as the opposite arm. Hold for 3 seconds and switch. Repeat 20 times total.


  • Try working out on a flat surface, like walking around a track or on a treadmill. If you were running before pregnancy, you can continue with your doctor’s go ahead. Just remember that running can be hard on the knees even when not pregnant and flat pavement might be a little more forgiving on the joints.


  • Wear shoes that give plenty of support, especially around the ankles.


  • If you exercise outside, try to do so before it gets too dark. Because your center of gravity has changed, it is easier to stumble and fall and much harder to navigate the elements such as snow and ice. If you do fall, try to fall on your side or on your hands and knees.


  • Activities that can increase risk of falling should be avoided such as horseback riding and mountain climbing.


Having a trained instructor to make sure you are performing an exercise correctly can help reduce your chance of injury.  If you would like to have a fitness professional help you during your pregnancy, get in touch with us!


Ask the Experts CTA




  1. “Exercise During Pregnancy”. Accessed on 5 March 2015. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy
  2. “Balance During Pregnancy”. Accessed on 11 March 2015. Be-Fit Mom. http://www.befitmom.com/balance.html


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Working out while pregnant: A guide through the trimesters


With the unveiling of the new B3 Personal Training Pre and Postnatal Fitness program we’ll be focusing the next 5 blog posts on pregnancy topics.  Each week a new topic will be covered.  We welcome your questions and comments, enjoy!


Working out while pregnant: A guide through the trimesters



Exercise and pregnancy are a great combination. Not only do you reap the benefits but your baby does too! With your doctor’s go ahead, you can follow a great exercise routine that can increase your energy, reduce the aches and pains that accompany pregnancy and be more physically and mentally prepared for the big finish- the labor and delivery!


According to ACOG, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, becoming active and exercising at least 30 minutes on most, if not all days of the week can benefit your health during pregnancy. At least two days per week of resistance training can be included in this regimen. If you have never exercised before, you will want to start out slowly and add to your routine as appropriate. A great way to determine if you are working out hard enough to benefit from the exercise is by your perceived exertion.


The First Trimester


In the first trimester, you might be battling nausea and fatigue. Although you may not be feeling great, exercising may just help you feel better. If you worked out before getting pregnant, you can continue to do what you were doing before and modify based on how you are physically feeling at the time of your workout.  Your body will also go through a lot of hormonal changes.  Important to exercise is the production of the hormone relaxin, which is responsible for loosening your joints.  Be aware of this when lifting weights, walking on unsteady surfaces and while stretching post workout.


The first trimester is also a great time to build your foundation with posture and deep breathing techniques. While a full body workout is ideal, focusing on the core and pelvic floor will help your body get ready to carry your baby and prepare for delivery. Kegels are an excellent pelvic floor exercise to be added to your routine.


And as always remember it is important to stay hydrated and eat small meals (well trying to anyway!) throughout the day.


The Second Trimester


The second trimester tends to be the favorite of the three. Energy returns, morning sickness leaves and this is a great time to be exercising. As long as you are feeling well, all exercises you were doing pre-pregnancy and in the first trimester can still be done.  You may want to change your intensity or the amount of weight you use. There are three very important tips to remember during this trimester.


  • Core exercises are still extremely important but no exercise should be done on your back.
  • It is important not to get overheated or hold your breath while you perform your exercises.
  • As your baby becomes bigger, you may start to feel like you are pitching forward just a little. Those postural exercises you started in the first trimester are really coming in handy now!


The Third Trimester


Things might start to slow down in the third trimester.  Here are three changes you may begin to feel:


  • You may feel a decrease in energy.
  • You may become very aware of the extra weight you are carrying around and may experience lower back pain hurt and feel a rounding in your shoulders.
  • Breathing will become increasingly difficult. That baby is taking up a lot of space and you just don’t have the lung capacity for deep breaths.
  • Swelling of the hands and feet might be common.


Although you may be feeling uncomfortable for different reasons than the first trimester, exercising is still a great way to help you feel better. You still may be able to do all the exercises you were doing throughout your pregnancy, just decrease the intensity. Focus on those core, breathing and posture exercises. Take frequent rest breaks that include water.


Keeping to your exercise routine throughout these 9 months will not only get you ready for baby’ s entrance, but will also help you get back to your pre-pregnancy health faster.


You are extremely busy with a very important job to do, why not ask for some help from the professionals? If you would like help making a pregnancy workout plan, get in touch with us.

 Pregnant CTA2



  1. “Exercise During Pregnancy”. Accessed on 5 March 2015. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-During-Pregnancy
  2. “Resistance Training During Pregnancy”. Accessed on March 5 2015. American College of Sports Medicine. http://certification.acsm.org/files/file/CNews22%201%20FINALweb.pdf


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Rest and Recovery Between Workouts: The Missing Piece to your Program



Recovery after a workout is an extremely important and often overlooked part of a complete exercise program. The workout session is when the physical work happens, but it is the rest and recovery period after the workout that determines how the body will adapt to the work. Training too hard and too often without the proper recovery can actually give your body the reverse effect of your goal such as weight gain, immune deficiencies and sleeplessness. Let’s examine the science, several important factors and guidelines for optimal recovery.


The Science

Performing any kind of exercise requires energy. The body maintains a continuous supply of energy by converting chemical energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. There are three energy systems which are responsible for the production energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP, the ultimate source of energy for muscle contraction).


  • Phosphagen or short term energy system
  • Glycolytic or anaerobic energy system
  • Mitochondrial respiration, aerobic, or long term energy system


Depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise will depend on which combination of these systems are used. Optimal recovery entails restoring the capacity for each energy system to function once again at maximal levels.


How does your body recover?


In order for the body to recover, it must normalize and restore its physiological functions. Once a workout is over your body’s metabolism can continue to burn more calories. This physiological effect is called excess post- exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function called homeostasis.  A few things happen at the end of your workout for rest and recovery to begin.


  1. Immediately following the end of the workout, the body returns to a normal breathing and heart rate.
  2. Circulatory hormones come back to normal and core body temperature decreases.
  3. Energy stores need to be replenished.


What factors influences recovery?


The goal of the program has a large influence with how you should handle recovery.  The opportunity for muscle growth starts the moment you finish your workout and that growth can’t happen without the proper recovery protocol. A few key factors are:


  1. Stress of the workout – based on the workload of your program (sets x reps x weight)
  2. Overall muscle recruitment – based on the desired adaptation (strength, power, hypertropy (muscle building) or endurance)
  3. Potential for muscle damage and soreness – potential is a result of the previous two factors as well as exercise selection


What do these factors means actually?  Well for example, during resistance training, small microscopic tears occur in the muscle tissue (totally normal). During recovery, your muscles are repairing and increasing the size of these fibers allowing to build muscle over the course of time. The micro-tears are the cause of soreness post workout and the larger the tear, the longer you may feel sore . Your focus shouldn’t be on how fast the recovery is but instead how productive it is. The goal is to push yourself so that you feel challenged during each workout. You may try to do a little more each time, work a little bit longer or increase the heaviness in weights. However you don’t want to do too much that you are damaging the muscle rather than building it.


What can you do to positively effect your recovery?

  1. Dynamic Warmup – Also called movement prep, these exercises will help with strength, mobility, stability and balance.
  2. Cool down and Stretch – After your workout, it is important to . This allows the body to bring it back to its normal state.
  3. Foam rolling –  Can help increase circulation to the muscles and work through any small knots in the tissue.
  4. Post –workout Nutrition – After exercise the body needs to replenish energy with carbohydrates and repair tissue with protein. Having a post-workout snack or drink with both carbohydrates and protein can help meet both needs. The carbohydrates will refuel energy needs as well as increase insulin levels, which helps to promote the post-exercise utilization of protein for muscle repair.
  5. Hydrate – Guidelines include drinking 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before the start of exercise, drinking 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up and drinking 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Additionally it is important to drink 8 ounces of fluid 30 minutes after exercising.
  6. Rest – Rest days give your muscles a break. Doing some light cardio such as a bike ride or a walk in the park on these rest days is known as active recovery. This can promote blood flow and improved circulation to the muscles.
  7. Sleep – It’s a necessary down time for your body to repair itself. During sleep, the body produces the hormones responsible for stimulating muscle protein synthesis, which is critical for repairing muscle tissue. Try to get at least 7 hours of rest per night.
  8. Periodize your exercise plan – This long term exercise program offers the variety needed to ensure that the body is continuously challenged permitting both progress and adequate recovery.


Understanding and following the appropriate recovery post workout will get you back to it feeling stronger, rested and ready to be challenged. If you need help with a rest and recovery plan, contact us.

Ask the Experts CTA



1. “Know your Recovery Strategies”. Accessed 17, March 2015. The American Counsel on Exercise. https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/3628/know-your-recovery-strategies/

2. “Training Recovery” The Most important Component to your Clients’ Exercise Program. Accessed 17, March 2015. The American Counsel on Exercise. http://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/2757/training-recovery-the-most-important-component-of/

3. “ Recovery in Training: The Essential Ingredient”. Accessed 17, March 2015. The University of New Mexico. https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/recoveryUNM.html

4. “ Healthy Hydration”. Accessed 18, March 2015. The American Counsel on Exercise. https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/recoveryUNM.html

5. “Resistance Training and EPOC”. Accessed 18, March 2015. The University of New Mexico. http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/epoc.html


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