Tuesday, February 2, 2010

6 Months In: Pregnancy and Training

by Cate Kelly

Cate Kelly was one of my very first clients as a professional trainer. She has been a valuable member of Greyskull for over two years. She housed Greyskull for a time out of her garage, and is responsible for inspiring many who have come through our doors. Most recently (last year) she recruited her Dad, Brian, into the mix, one of Greyskull's most colorful characters, and another terrific asset to our organization. This article was written by Cate at the six month mark of this, her third pregnancy. Cate trains with me twice per week, and is one of the most goal oriented trainees I have had the pleasure of working with.

When I first found out I was pregnant for the third time, I hoped that at least I could make it through the first trimester without compromising my training. I had been feeling strong and good about my body and I wasn't really looking forward to letting go of that. I talked to John and we agreed that there was no reason to make any changes right away. Right off the bat, the first week I was pregnant, I added ten pounds to my dead lift PR. It was a good start. Everyone will tell you the goal during pregnancy is to maintain your strength not to make gains. That is fine for most people, but I think most of the people at greyskull would agree, maintaining for nine months would be a bit tedious. Especially, because I know at the end it is quite possible that I may be so big and lazy that all I want to do is stay home and eat hoagies.

The weeks started to pass quickly. Each week I would press/bench-press, squat, and dead lift and each week I made progress in the lifts. The 12 week mark came and went and I still felt good so john and I decided to continue on with business as usual. The only difference being that we agreed to focus on sets of five and triples, rather than a single max effort. (although I admit I forgot about that conversation for a while). There were adjustments along the way. My stance gets wider and wider. You can't imagine how sore you can get from changing your stance! At one point, we had to take 30 pounds off my squat and start again. When that happened, I feared it was the beginning of the end of my pregnant strength training. But we just rebuilt my squat, five pounds a week. And my squat for 3 sets of five is now 20 pounds higher than it was before I got pregnant. At six months pregnant, I've added fifty pounds to my dead lift. My results are beyond what I had ever hoped.

The physical benefits are obvious. My body is better equipped to carry another person with me. The aches and pains of my former pregnancies are non existent in this pregnancy. And it's not like Im small!! In my first two pregnancies, my lower back was especially miserable from the stress of carrying a big belly, and this time I am totally comfortable. I look better, too. My weight gain is consistent with my prior two pregnancies — believe me I am not a skinny pregnant girl. And no one has ever said to me you don't look pregnant from behind with a straight face. But I am a lot firmer than I was in my first two pregnancies. Im not exhausted in the same way I was with my first two babies. I remember always wanting to sit down when I was pregnant before. I don't feel that way this time, which makes chasing a three year old, a five year old and a puppy a lot more feasible. I remember during my second pregnancy bemoaning that I had to carry a one year old around. Now I carry my five year old, no problem.

It's the mental benefits that I hadn't anticipated. I feel like myself. In my prior two pregnancies I felt like my life was on hold for nine months. This time I feel like I am still making progress, and not just sitting around waiting for it to be over. I don't feel like my body is going to be a train wreck when I come home with a new born. I think part of my improved mental state comes from the physical benefits. My body is not being taxed as it was before so I can sometimes forget that I am pregnant or at least not focus on it. But part of it comes from being able to feel like I am pulling the boat forward a little bit, each week when I train. I am not just waiting for the baby to be born, I am trying to add as many plates to the bar as I can before the day I feel like I can't. My fear in planning this baby was that I was going to lose a full year's worth of strength — in missed training and then in months making up for lost ground. Now I know that it won't happen. People keep asking me when I am going to stop lifting, or stop making progress. I don't know. But I do know that if I had to stop tomorrow for the rest of my pregnancy, at least i'd only be losing out on ten weeks instead of forty. I hope that wont happen, but it seems like making up ten weeks would be relatively easy. I am excited about what's to come. It gives me a different level of confidence about how I might recover from childbirth. It just makes me happy to think about.

Cate Pressing 105 x 5

Photo courtesy of Carlita "I just want to be a nurse NOW!" Rivas.