Strength Modifications During Pregnancy

January 24, 2014

It’s probably news to no one the importance of modifying exercises during pregnancy. Your body is growing and everything is different – balance, hip width, weight, etc. Doing exercises the way you have always done just doesn’t work when you get to a certain point – this point being different for just about everyone. Listen to your body (and your doctor!) so you know when to start modifying or changing up your workout all together.

The gym I work for and use to workout at has TRX straps. If you haven’t ever used them, I strongly suggest you do. If you don’t have access to them, you can still use other equipment to support yourself. TRX straps are all about body weight – supporting it when you need it, and giving you the free range when you don’t. Here are a few great modifications for every day strength training exercises.


Squats can get a bit trickier the bigger your belly gets. Your center of gravity is off and you weigh more, so there is more to lift up. Squats are extremely important for labor, and should be in every pregnant woman’s workout routine. Start off with your feet a little bit wider than hip width a part, and a slight lean back with the TRX straps supporting you.

Pregnancy TRX Squats

Squat down, keeping a conscious effort to focus on form. Keep your back straight, not curved, and make sure your knees are not coming over your toes. Pregnant TRX SquatPush straight back up, without curving your lower back, and return to the starting position.

Without the TRX strap: Don’t worry, you can still have a nice supported squat without the TRX. Stand next to bench press or squat rack and grab a hold of the bar with both hands. Use the bar to guide you down, and then back up again. You can distribute your weight with the barbell instead of the strap. You will get the same benefits, with just a different piece of equipment.


It wasn’t too long after my belly started to grow that I couldn’t get in normal pushups. When you are in the first 20 weeks or so, just drop to your knees if necessary. That should give you the support you need. Once your belly grows and starts to pull on your low back, consider a modification.

With the straps, the more parallel your body becomes with the floor, the more difficult the exercise gets, so if you feel the pushups are still too easy, get more horizontal. You will definitely feel the burn!

Start out with a slight lean and your arms straight, using your body weight to balance yourself.

Pregnant TRX Pushups

Slightly bend your elbows, leaning down into a pushup position. Focus on your low back and hips, making sure they do not start to sag. Also be aware of your shoulders, and keep them relaxed – no need to wear them like earrings!

Pregnant TRX PushupsPush yourself back up to the starting position, keeping yourself aware of your low back not gaining a huge curve. If the exercise is too difficult, stand up more perpendicular to the floor. Form is always the most important.

Without the TRX strap: Stand at a barbell, preferably on a bench press. Straddle the bench with both legs, grabbing the bar. Use the bar to assist your incline pushup. Make the pushup easier or more difficult  by bringing your feet closer or further away from the bar.


Lunges are also a great exercise to prep for labor, so doing them regularly will really benefit you. Grab your straps and put one on either side of you, with your legs comfortably spread so you do not lose your balance.

Pregnant TRX lunge

Lower yourself down using the straps to help you balance. Keep in mind the placement of your knee, so it doesn’t fall in front of your foot.

Pregnant TRX lunges

Push yourself back up to the starting position, using the straps as much or as little as your may need to not fall to either side.

Without the TRX: Lunges are one of the easier exercises to do through modification. Anything you find to hold on to works pretty well – a table, chair, or barbell works just fine. Just make sure it is nice and sturdy.

Other Tips:

  • Keep the tempo down a bit so your heart rate doesn’t shoot up too high. You are training for something a lot different now – the birth of your child!
  • Instead of focusing on the amount of weight you are lifting, be happy with making it to the gym and getting in the strength training. This isn’t the time to go 5-10 lbs heavier. Stay at a comfortable weight without compromising form.
  • Always warm up before you start lifting weights – the last thing you need to do is pull or strain a muscle. Nothing like making pregnancy a little more uncomfortable 😉
  • Listen to your body! If you need to cut your workout short, then do it. There is no shame to simply doing what your body is telling you to do.

Any other tips? What other modifications are you interested in seeing? I would be happy to do another post on other exercises.

Baby Baum: 35 Weeks

January 22, 2014

Happy Wednesday to you all! It’s that time again – let’s check in on Baby Baum :) Here I am on Sunday, right at the 35 week mark. I still feel like my belly resembles a torpedo a bit, but I think it might be starting to round out a bit. The baby is getting pretty cozy in there, and I am pretty sure there isn’t a whole lot of room left. I feel every. little. movement!

35 Weeks Baby Baum

Baby Details:

  • Baby Baum is now the size of a coconut, measuring over 18 inches long and weighing in at around 5 1/4 pounds.
  • The kidneys are fully developed now, and the liver can process some waste products.
  • Most of his basic physical development is now complete — he’ll spend the next few weeks putting on weight.

My details:

Weight gained: Last week I measured in around the 23 pound mark, so I am guessing I am a pound or so heavier than that right now. I only weigh myself at the appointments, so its really just a guess as this point.

Workouts: A few runs and a couple of strength sessions happened last week. I also got into prenatal yoga at my favorite studio for the second week in a row! Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to make it a third!


  • Low back pain towards the end of the day.
  • Braxton Hicks is back!
  • Frequent bathroom. stops
  • Unable to take deep breaths as someone is crowding my diaphragm 😉
  • Feeling of fullness, even though I am really still hungry

Movement: The baby is still moving like a wild one! Most of all, since the baby is head down, I am constantly being kicked in the ribs. Yesterday for the first time, I actually gasped a little bit when he or she kicked me in the ribs – its was a killer!

Food Aversions/Cravings: Nothing at all. I have been so boring in this department for the whole pregnancy :)

Sleep: I am still getting in great sleep! I have been finding that when I wake up, I’ll be awake a tad longer than I was before, as I am just thinking about all kinds of random things – what the baby will look like, things to put on my birth plan, etc.

Stretch marks: Nada!

Fun Things from the week: I had my baby shower!!! It was so so so much fun! I’ll be getting the photos back from my friend who was nice enough to take photos (hopefully this weekend) and plan to do an all encompassing post first thing next week. It was truly fantastic! I grabbed a couple of quick photos on my phone, so I can share those. Otherwise, we just have to wait a few more days.

baby baum shower

Baby Baum shower diaper cake

Baby Shower XP Girls 2

Belly Button In or Out? Out and staying that way!

Wedding Rings on or off? On

Happy or Moody most of the time? Happy, per the usual

New Baby Items: Pretty much everything! We pretty much had just the bare bones before the shower (no diapers, wipes, or anything!) and now we are set! I am so thankful for the generosity of all of our friends and family.

Looking forward to: Organizing everything we received and settling down for this next month. Its hard to believe the baby could show up just about any time in the next few weeks. How on Earth did that happen so fast!? We also met with a potential doula last night, and I plan to email her asap to have her committed for our birth. I am excited we found someone we really click with!

How did you organize everything from your baby shower, especially the items you aren’t really going to need for another few months?

Baby Baum: 34 Weeks

January 15, 2014

Up and onward with another bumpdate! This week marks 34 weeks, just 6 weeks out from the due date. I know I say it all the time, but wow, this pregnancy is zooming by! We are getting to the point where the baby could come any week – not that I want him or her to. Let’s stay in there and bake as long as possible, mmmkay?

34 Weeks baby baum

Baby Update:

  • The baby is now the size of a butternut squash, weighing close to 5lbs and measuring 17.2 to 18.7 inches.
  • Some say that baby will recognize songs mom sings while he or she in the womb, and may even be more easily soothed by them if he or she used to them once they are on the “outside”.
  • The baby is now urinating up to a pint a day <– whoa!

My details:

Weight gained: Per my 34 week doctor appointment this morning, I am 23 pounds up from my pre-pregnancy weight. No big deal there!

Workouts: Still getting in my walk/runs and lots of plain old walking as well. Some days running just isn’t comfy, so walking it is. I get in strength training when I can, just about 30 minutes of some pretty easy movements to get me labor ready! I also headed back to prenatal yoga last week, and plan to go up until my due date.


  • Little baby feet in my ribs all the time – hands down, my least favorite part of pregnancy.
  • Heading for pit stops all the time.
  • Achy low back at night.
  • Constantly feeling full, which means I am hungry pretty shortly after I eat.

Movement: Lots and lots – that whole feet in ribs is very applicable here!

Food Aversions/Cravings: Nothing. Just the normal food.

Sleep: Still sleeping really well. I woke up once in the past week and had a hard time falling back asleep, but nothing more than that.

Stretch marks: None!

Fun Things from the week: We got our stroller and car seat, so now we can actually take the baby home from the hospital :) We went with the Chicco stroller set, and I am super happy with it (not that I have anything to compare it to). My family in Kentucky all went in on it together, and I am so thankful they did! It is a much-needed item!

Chicco Stroller

Belly Button In or Out? Out and staying that way

Wedding Rings on or off? On

Happy or Moody most of the time? Happy :)

New Baby Items: The stroller/car seat combo, as well as a couple of items to finish up the nursery. The rug came in today, and it looks cute. The color is a little bit different than I expected, but it’s still a great way to bring the room together.

Looking forward to: This weekend’s baby shower!! My sister and sister in law are coming in town, as well as multiple other friends. I am so excited to see everyone and celebrate Baby Baum! We also have a meeting with a possible doula for the labor this coming Tuesday, so I am very excited to get that process going. I definitely plan to write more on that later – whether I do it before or after the baby comes, I’m not quite sure yet.

Did anyone else use a doula for labor? Any questions you recommend I ask her when we meet?

The Winter Warmup Workout

January 13, 2014


Happy Monday everyone! Here is a quick workout to warm you up and start off your week!!

Winter WarmUp Workout


How was your weekend? Do anything exciting?

What I Wish I Knew Running My First Marathon

January 10, 2014

This weekend is the 6th anniversary of my very first marathon! Back in 2008, I lined up with thousands of other runners and tackled the Disney Marathon course. It was both amazing and awful, all at the same time. I swore off marathons around mile 21, and then couldn’t stop thinking about which one I wanted to sign up for next as soon as I finished. Here are a few things I wish I would have known going into my very first marathon.

Your Time Doesn’t Matter

Finishing your very first marathon is an accomplishment in itself. Setting a time goal and hoping you will reach it, without really knowing what to expect, isn’t the best idea. There are so many unknowns in this long of a race, and putting the pressure on yourself to achieve such a specific time just isn’t a good idea. Go after the goal you set to finish the race, and experience everything that comes along with it throughout the race.

Disney Finish

Long Runs DO Matter

Boy oh boy – this seems like a dumb one, especially coming from me. I put such a big emphasis on long runs to each and every client I coach. What my clients don’t know is that I harp on the long run solely from experience of disrespecting it for my first marathon. I followed Hal Higdon’s plan for Disney 2008, and ended up doing my longest (and last) long run the weekend before Thanksgiving. I need to mention, the plan does not recommend this – I just skipped all of the long runs following that. Needless to say, that is crazy far out from the race, and nowhere near a long enough distance to run before a marathon.

On Course Support is Huge

I had no idea how mental the marathon would be. One of the parts I look forward to most when I run a race is knowing when I will see the people who came to support me. Even if it’s just here and there, I am always uplifted when I see Marcus telling me I look strong or my sister holding up an inspiring sign. Getting family and friends to see you a few times on course is so important!

Chicago Marathon 1

You Are Going to Get Tired Towards the End

Yea, your legs feels so great in the first half of the race. That doesn’t mean you should pick it up early. I remember passing the halfway point and thinking, “Wow! This is way easier than most people say it is!”. Wow – I wrong. The last 6 or so miles hurt so bad. I didn’t want to run another step. I’m sure it also didn’t help that I was severely undertrained. Too many things added up to a very rough race!

It Is Worth Every Step

Regardless of how tough the race is when you are running it, once you cross the finish line, it all becomes worth it. The high you get from the accomplishment is unlike any other, and lasts for days post race. Reflect on the training you completed and the race you just finished – it truly is amazing!

What do you wish you knew going into your first marathon or road race?