Archives for posts with tag: pre/post natal fitness

Happy April!

For the first time leaving my house this week, it actually felt like spring. There were birds chirping, sunlight poking it’s beautiful head, and I couldn’t see my breath.

Anyway, I get most of my blog topics when I’m training myself, or reading non-training related stuff. This week, I’ve been accumulating random thoughts that don’t necessarily warrant their own post, so I figured I’d put them together in a “random thoughts” post.

1. The word “toning”

I was reading something, somewhere, by someone about women and strength training. The word ‘toning’ or ‘muscle tone’ came up, and the author deemed it worse than saying Voldemort at Hogwarts. That seems to be a common theme these days. Like any woman who has a goal of ‘toning’ is as incompetent as Tracey Anderson.

Shutup Gwenyth.

What is the big deal? What’s wrong with women wanting to lose fat and gain some muscle? That’s what toning means, even if they don’t know it. What’s more important is the MEANS of women getting the look they want. Are they focusing on larger compound movements like squats, deadlifts, pushups and pullups? Are they focusing on sound nutrition with lots of protein and veggies? Or are they wasting their time doing tricep extensions with 3lb dumbbells followed by a well-rounded breakfast of bagels and cream cheese?

May I be so bold and suggest that the word ‘toning’ is not a swear word? Maybe we can just redefine it and educate our female clients on how to get there.

Let’s start with this: Close grip pushups will help that flab under your arms.

2. Underweight Babies

Most of you know I’m a pre/post natal exercise specialist, so anything I read concerning pregnancy peaks my interest. My latest t-ride read: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers has a whole chapter on stress and reproduction.  It had a very interesting section on underfed mothers and underweight babies:

“If you were a first trimester fetus during [a] famine, that programs you for a greater risk of heart disease, obesity, and an unhealthy cholesterol profile…But this phenomenon also applies to less dramatic situations. Within the normal range of birth weights, the lower the weight of a baby (when adjusted for body length), the greater the rise of those Metabolic syndrome problems in adulthood.”

To summarize, the metabolic system of an underfed baby becomes so efficient at storing energy (aka fat), that it’s more likely to have problems in their adult life, when food is likely to be abundant.

I know that under eating during pregnancy isn’t as common as overeating, but there is something to be said for it. If not, I just found it interesting. It is a fine balance for pregnant women. The general recommendation is to eat for 1.2 people.

ie, if you weigh 125lbs, you should eat about 1950- 2250 calories a day while pregnant.

(125lbs x 1.2 = approximately 150lbs)

(150lbs x 13-15calories/pound/day =1950- 2250 calories/day)

Yeah baby!

3. The Single Arm Dumbbell Fly

I’m not going to lie here… I saw a random member doing this and I was secretly stalking him. (A- if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I’m so creepy.)

After I tried it, what surprised me was the amount of core needed for this exercise. The more I thought about it the more it made sense; you’re lengthening a lever and moving the weight further and further from your center of gravity. Hell yeah your core’s gotta kick in! If you do this exercise with the right weight and range of motion, it’s hard as hell. I added it as a last exercise in my upper body day (after DB chest press, inverted row, DB row, and overhead press.)

I used a weight about half as heavy as my chest press (20lbs and 35lbs, respectively). It’s cool to add at the end because your chest fatigue wont be a limiting factor, and you should feel the entire side of your body tense to keep you from falling off the bench.

3. Single leg deadlift with a box

Speaking of limiting factors, many people have a hard time with single leg deadlifts because they require an enormous amount of balance. This is unfortunate because it’s such a beneficial exercise.

  • Trains the entire posterior line- mostly lats, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as the core
  • In turn, training the glutes prevents injury. Mostly for the knee and low back
  • Obviously, it trains balance and proprioception
  • Evens out leg strength discrepancies
  • Strengthens small muscles and stabilizers of the foot
  • Very knee friendly for those who can’t squat without pain
  • One of the best active hamstring stretches on this side of the Mississippi

When I program this exercise, I usually start people off using kettlebells. Reason being that when the person is in the ‘down’ portion of the movement, they can actually tap the bells to floor to borrow some stability.

However, sometimes people don’t have the flexibility or strength to start with kettlebells, so I searched for a solution to make it easier. And that is simply just add a box.

From t-nation

PS. This picture is from a great glute training article on t-nation. Read it here.

In Closing

Told you it was going to be random. To recap:

-Redefine the word ‘toning.’ It aint so bad

-If you’re preggo, it’s critically important to get the right amount of calories. Even more so important to get your calories from whole and unprocessed foods. Remember the formula:

(Your pre-pregnancy bodyweight x 1.2) = Ylbs

(Ylbs x15/calories per pound per day) =  Calories/day

-If you’re not doing single arm dumbbell flies and single leg deadlifts, you should be.




As you may or may not know, as of this past August I am a pre/post natal exercise specialist! I’m up one more level of awesome!
All jokes aside, it’s a very very cool certification and I’m ecstatic to be able to help this very special population. Although the process of getting certified was long, it was enriching and definitely worth it.  Some of my requirements were:

1. Read “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy” by Dr. James F. Clapp

Dr. Clapp is a leading researcher in this very specific arena, and his book offers ground breaking information. He talks about how pregnancy was once viewed as a sickness, whereas in reality perinatal women can do just about anything that their non-pregnant counterparts can. He covers the physiological changes that occur when you become pregnant, the benefits of exercising during pregnancy (there’s a lot– more on that later), and how to program and monitor.

2. Read a ~200 page manual written by my certification creators, Kim Nelli + James Goodlatte 

This manual is something I refer to frequently. It sort of fleshes out details from Clapp’s book and goes into more detail about structural considerations, corrective exercise, movement assessment, primal movement patterns (breathing, squat, lunge, twist, bend, push, pull, single leg balance), and actual program design. There is also a separate manual for post-natal fitness that digs into the emotions of child birth, hormones and nutrition. What I like so much about this certification is that Kim and James really explore a holistically healthy pregnancy, as opposed to just focusing on exercise.

3. Complete about 10 written quizzes to submit for feedback

4. Review and Learn the latest ACOG guidelines for absolute and relative indications to exercise during pregnancy

These are very pregnancy-specific issues to be mindful of as a trainer, or if you’re pregnant yourself. Some absolute contraindications include persistent 2nd or 3rd trimester bleeding or pregnancy induced hypertension. Some relative contraindications include severe anemia or poorly controlled thyroid disease.

5. Video record 2 movement assessments, 1 for prenatal and 1 for post

6. Video record a 60-minute session

A big thanks to my stellar client Christina for allowing me to film our session!

7. Have 2-5 skype meetings with James to discuss videos

James gave great feedback and really encourages his FitForBirth trainers to think critically.

I’ve learned way too much to ever summarize in one blog post, but to give you an example… here are some benefits to exercising during pregnancy:

For Moms:

1.  Less weight gain

2. Less labor pain

3. Less pregnancy discomfort

4. Decrease in need to artificially rupture membranes

5. Decrease in need for episiotomy (2-4″ incision along the vaginal wall)

6. Decrease need for operative intervention

7. Decreased time in labor

For Babies:

1. Increased physical health scores

2. Increased intelligence scores

3. Fewer fetal interventions

4. Fewer pregnancy complications

5. Increase nutrient delivery to fetus

These are obviously not exhaustive lists, and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of staying active during pregnancy. Many people view pregnancy as a time to be lazy and excuse a poor diet because they’re hormones are telling them to eat a double mac. Quite the contrary. Pregnancy is a time to pay even MORE attention to your health– you’re creating another human for pete’s sake! I’ve had a few pregnant clients at this point, and it’s honestly pretty cool to empower them to continue to lift and engage in interval training.

Lastly, I want to give you some insight as to how a session with me actually goes down. 

The session is broken up into 4 components. We spend the first 10-15 minutes doing some breathing drills to turn on the diaphragm, TVA and deep core muscles. Kim and James refer to this is awakening from ‘core amnesia.’ The next 25-35 minutes are dedicated to functional training. During this time I will go through specific corrective exercises, and my usual strength training programs. After that, we spend 10 minutes in what’s called Labor Training. Labor training is basically HIIT with a recovery period using imagery. I let my ladies choose their form of conditioning (ball slams, mountain climbers, sled push etc), and I walk them through the imagery. The work/rest intervals are supposed to simulate how actual contractions occur, starting with shorter work periods/longer rests, and gradually moving to longer work/shorter rest. Then whatever time is remaining is used for gentle stretching and relaxation. The ladies leave the session with a sense of achievement, confidence and calmness.

So far, I’ve been meeting with my pre/post natal clients in 1-on-1 sessions, but I’d also like to start a small group training program so that ladies can get the camaraderie and encouragement from fellow preggo’s.  🙂

If you or anyone you know is interested in pre/post natal training, please contact me at