Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weightlifting During Pregnancy- Is it Safe

More Controversy yet again surrounding women exercising during pregnancy!

There is huge debate over this women weightlifting. Compare this to what there was with Zara Phillips horseback riding and still competing just a few months ago!

I have wrote many guides on exercising during pregnancy and what you should do to train safely during your pregnancy:-
Horse Riding
Trimesters Guide: First Second Third

Should we be concerned for the health of this woman and her baby?

I think not, this women is an experienced weightlifter and it is her third pregnancy, I would assume she knows her body and her limits. I know as a mum of 3 myself that she will hopefully not push herself beyond her individual limits as her baby is much too important to do that.

Lea-Ann Ellison has been lifting weights for a number of years and I am sure she has modified her weights to suit during her pregnancy. Every women is different what looks hard and extreme for some is actually easy and moderate intensity for others.

The majority of the photographs that I have attached here she has excellent form and technique. There is no excessive hyperextension of the lumbar spine and she is not swaying her back putting pressure on weakened abdominal muscles.*

Some of the articles that have been wrote about Lea-Ann will make many women fear lifting weights and this is very misleading  Here is one example:

Yes women can lift weights, the average toddler is 12kg+! This is what really annoys me when doctors advise not to lift weights. As mums we have to lift weights not only our kids but the average basket of wet washing would be 10kg!

Holding breath to lift a could be deprived of oxygen I'm sorry but one of the safest exercises recommended to pregnant women is swimming where you hold your breath for longer than any lift would take you!

Your waters will break due to pressure? Exercise has not been proven to induce labour- Dr James F Clap III MD

 This weight looks like an 8kg Kettlebell a lot lighter than your average toddler! My clients swing weights like this 3 times a week during their pregnancies

 This is one of the exercises that I feel she is using too heavy a weight to maintain correct form and it is stressing her lower back muscles and obliques, she would be better off using a lesser weight for this one

 Perfect technique- no excessive lumbar extension of her lower back and Lea-Ann definitely doesn't look like she is straining herself. Without training I can easily press 30kg above my head with training I could lift heavier, remember what looks hard for one person is actually easy for another.

 Now I do not recommend Pull Ups during pregnancy. I did try during my third and they never felt comfortable I always found that they did put far too much pressure on the uterus. After 15+ weeks this exercise will increase diastasis recti-abdominal muscle separation and Lea-Ann has got separation of the abdominal muscles as I can assess this from the photographs. 
This separation may well have been caused by too much heavy lifting during her third trimester. I don't know how often she lifts and how much heavy lifting she does in each session. 

Personally I would never recommend this type of exercise in late pregnancy as it will increase diastasis recti. *Even with perfect technique this exercise stresses weakened abdominal muscles. There are many safe alternative exercises.

So is Weightlifting safe?
Yes it is but again listen to your own body and modify your training throughout your pregnancy. Lea-Ann is a very fit healthy mum, I do not recommend starting any new fitness regime during your pregnancy.
If you are weightlifting/CrossFitting I would suggest you change your lifts and weights as you progress into your third trimester. Read my guide to CrossFit during pregnancy if you are unsure: CrossFit

Please comment with your thoughts.


  1. Wow, I didn't know that weight lifting was safe for women who are pregnant. My husband and I are thinking about having our first child so I have been looking up all kinds of research from the best obgyn in my area to exercising while pregnant. I have the body type that gains weight fast and I don't want to get huge while im pregnant. Is it safe to run while pregnant? I run about 10 miles a day.

  2. Hi Lauren, congrats on your pregnancy yes its safe to run during pregnancy have a look at my guide on this blog: