Happy Wednesday everyone! I’m so excited to unveil the newest program at PowHer.fit – “Pump Your Bump” Pregnancy Program! Just like how our membership works, when you are an active paid member, you gain access to all our nutrition overview assistance, recipes, monthly meal plan guidance, as well as ALL our current training programs. (Our current programs besides Pump Your Pump are: Strength 1.0 Home and Gym, Bikini Body Conditioning Home and Gym, PowHer 1.0 Home and Gym, PowHer Pair: Booty & Abs Home and Gym and Postpartum HealHer Home and Gym.) The same goes for this new Pregnancy Program! If you’re already a member, all you have to do is enroll in the program (it’s linked with all the others on your welcome page) and you’ll be good to go. If you’re not currently a member, you can subscribe to our $49/month membership to walk this fitness journey on your own or you can subscribe to our $59/month membership with an empowerment coach and small group for daily check-ins, extra community support, daily encouragement and extra accountability so you don’t feel alone on your journey! Yearly membership options are available for both, and you actually end up getting over 2 months free this way (but you do have to pay the yearly fee up front). To choose from our current list of membership subscriptions, click HERE. You can cancel free of charge at anytime, too!
Ok, so let me tell you a little more about the background, how this program came to fruition, the scientific research, proven evidence, the professional trainer, FAQ’s and more below!
PowHer.fit’s Pump Your Bump Program is a Pregnancy Specific Program for ALL Trimesters!
This “Pump Your Bump” program is a pregnancy workout program written for healthy pregnant women who are having healthy, low risk pregnancies. Before beginning this program (or any other at this time), be sure to check with your doctor or health care provider to be cleared in doing so.
For MOST pregnant women, exercise comes with tons of benefits for both mama and baby. For high-risk pregnancies or those who are at risk for pre-term labor, exercise should be closely monitored by your doctor to make sure that you will not add any additional threats to you or baby.
This pregnancy program is a 12 week program with standard movements as well as further modified movements, so it can be tailored to any future mama’s skill set. If you finish, this 12 week program can be repeated multiple times before you enter the labor and delivery room. You can even upgrade from specific modified movements to the standard movements your 2nd or 3rd time around. Remember pregnancy is not the time to lift your absolute heaviest, nor to strive to put up any personal records.For this reason alone, we do not offer the advanced training movements in this program. If you have not previously strength trained before this program, we suggest body weight or very light weight only, as well as the modified movement options to best suit your beginner skill set. We suggest lifting at least a little lighter than your normal working weight sets pre-pregnancy. Always listen to your body to find a happy medium between feeling comfortable but still a little challenged. Don’t worry, there’s no barbell work in this program! All very feasible and lower weight amounts!
This program includes all you need in a pregnancy program to gain the benefits that research has shown us. It will support you in your pregnancy while keeping your body strong, toned and comfortable through your entire pregnancy.
These workouts will still feel like workouts. Be sure to listen to your body, scale it back, choose the modifications or take extra breaks if and when needed. If you’re feeling good and strong, keep on keeping on mama! It’s totally ok to break a sweat when working out and it’s ok to feel like your pushing your body and strengthening yourself, as long as it’s not extremely uncomfortable. When in doubt, scale it back to be safe, but know it’s ok to push yourself and challenge yourself on the days that you’re feeling good. Here’s to wishing you a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery! Time to get to work!
Pregnant DOES NOT Mean Disabled!
If your goal is to continue (or even start) your workout regiment during pregnancy, our best advice is to find a doctor or midwife who is supportive and encouraging of fitness for pregnant women, one who is up-to-date, and that gives evidence-based advice. No matter how much you know or don’t know about the science behind pregnancy fitness, you’ll want to choose the appropriate doctor to spend this season with. We encourage you to find someone who is trustworthy, easy to talk to, supportive, and one who you feel you can be honest with when it comes to your activity level.
Some doctors are simply out-of-date with science and research on pregnancy fitness. These types of physicians can scare you out of having an active pregnancy even when you are capable to. Be sure any information that a doctor gives you is updated. If you do not feel comfortable with your first meeting with your pregnancy doctor, we encourage getting a second opinion to find someone you’re more comfortable with. Remember, you’re going to spend 40 weeks and a very special stage of your life with your doctor, so be sure you’re confident in your decision. If you don’t know where to start on finding a doctor, ask a friend or family member their personal recommendation!
Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t be active, you can’t run, you can’t “pump your bump” or you can’t work your body. Pregnancy is not a disability, so be sure to find a doctor who has up-to-date view points on this matter!
Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
- Reduces backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling.
- Increases your energy!
- Improved your mood and your posture.
- Promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance.
- May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes.
- Helps you to sleep better.
- Regular activity also helps keep you fit during pregnancy and may improve your ability to cope with labor. This will make it easier for you to get back in shape after your baby is born!
Some More Scientific Benefits Proven by Research…
- Babies whose mothers exercise during pregnancy tend to be less-stressed during labor and delivery!
- Exercise helps control blood sugar and lowers the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Moms who exercise throughout pregnancy labor babies with a healthier weight and are less likely to develop childhood obesity or obesity later on!
- Exercise reduces stress to mother! Chronic stress shows to be harmful to baby’s development and increases risk of pre-term labor.
- Research shows that moms who exercise during pregnancy then labor babies with more active brains and overall better brain development.
- Babies of exercising pregnant women are leaner with lower body fat! This can continue into childhood and even adulthood.
- Babies from exercising moms have shown significant statistical increase in behavior, academic, sports performance and overall health.
- Babies whose moms exercised have a lower heart rate. This is a mirror of strong heart health!
- Research suggests that babies of exercising pregnant women are associated with higher IQ’s, better strenth, balance, speed and endurance, better coordination, have faster reaction times, as well as a more positive psycho-motor and language development when compared to offspring of non-exercising pregnant women.
Pelvic Floor Analysis
The pelvic floor muscles have a multitude of functions, one of the most important ones being to help maintain urinary and faecal continence. In women, weakened pelvic floor muscles can lead to pelvic organ prolapse and continence issues. Dumoulin et al (2018) concluded that pelvic floor rehabilitation can reduce – or even cure – symptoms of incontinence in women. However, despite this encouraging fact, women often lack knowledge on pelvic floor anatomy, dysfunction and rehabilitation (De Andrade et al, 2018).
Before “pumping your bump” as well as continuously throughout your pregnancy, assessing your pelvic floor is very important. This will help us determine if your pelvic floor is staying strong during pregnancy.
If you’re worried your pelvic floor is weakening based on symptoms listed above, please ask your doctor to assist you in an assessment.
If your pelvic floor is becoming weakened and/or damaged (you’ll notice urine leaks and/or gas and bowel movement unrestrained), please take out any high impact moves such as sprinting or jumping. Choose the more modified option on movements like these. While these movements are deemed safe for pregnancy, they become more of a risk of giving you pelvic floor issues in the future. PowHer.fit’s goal is to keep you active, but still ensuring that your strength training and cardio training are appropriate for your current pelvic floor status.
Next thing is to not skip your ab workouts! Please focus and continuously do the daily ab movements listed in this workout program. This is the best way to ensure your core and pelvic floor stay strong during and after pregnancy! Even if you skip a given workout for a specific day, please try to at least accomplish your daily ab work!
Don’t I Have to Keep My Heart Rate Below 140 bmp?
Women still believe that they need to keep their heart rate below 140 BPM in pregnancy. This common myth needs to be addressed!
This heart rate “rule” is absolutely, positively, 100% without a doubt, the most outdated advice in the pregnancy world. Ladies, we have to move on from it.
Originally this guideline came from a handful of doctors who did a guesstimate to calculate this number, and IT WAS NEVER SCIENTIFICALLY BACKED in the first place! Like, ever! They guessed at a certain number, soon realized it was not a reliable guideline, and then suggested the ACOG remove it, and the ACOG did. (ACOG is American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
This happened in 1985 – 35 years ago! Scientific evidence will show you with a little research that Dr. Raul Artal of Saint Louis University said that he and another doctor used intuition and calculation to determine the 140 beats per minute guideline. Months after this, the actual testing proved them wrong and the 140 beats guideline was removed from the ACOG Guidelines. “For some reason, people caught onto that and they never let it go,” he said.“Each time I get asked about it, I say forget about it. I think it should be ignored.” – Dr. Raul Artal.
How Does This Program Work? Do I Need to Already Be In Shape? Do I Need to Be Approved by my Doctor?
This is a 12 week fitness program that should be used by pregnant individuals who have been cleared by their doctor to exercise. There are both standard and modified movement options, so this program can be tailored to your specific skill set. The reason we launched this program was to further modify movements specific to pregnant women, and to modify those movements for women who were not previously strength training. The modified movements use only body weight or extremely light weight objects (think water bottles of 1-2 pounds at max).
While all our other PowHer.fit programs are pregnancy safe and have special 2nd and 3rd trimester ab movement substitutions if 1) the woman has been PREVIOUSLY strength training and 2) is cleared by her doctor as a low risk/healthy pregnancy that can in fact train while pregnant, we knew that more women wanted to gain the benefits of exercising while pregnant even though they had not been previously strength training. For that reason, as well as a stronger emphasis on safe core work to help prevent diastasis recti and to strengthen the pelvic floor, this program came to fruition!
This program can be started at ANY point during pregnancy and can be repeated again during pregnancy. If you’re past week 34, we suggest only repeating the the 3rd month (week 8-12) continuously.This is where the core work and movements become more seated movements (on a chair or stability ball) for further safety. Usually when a member repeats a PowHer.fit program, they are able to increase their skill set from modified to standard the 2nd time around. That probably won’t be the case in this instance because you’ll be further along in your pregnancy as you repeat, so you may have to slow it down, choose more modified movements, and even choose the walk option over the jog or run option more often on labor training cardio days. And guess what – THAT IS OK! Pregnancy is not the time to hit your personal records or lift your heaviest weight. As you continue through your pregnancy, you’ll be able to notice and listen to your body when you need to lower weight or slow down your pace. The goal is to not stop, not quit, and especially not pass up the core and pelvic floor work! When you start this program, each week will be unlocked accordingly to ensure that you don’t skip ahead.
If you have previously been strength training before pregnancy, you’re totally ok to do another program of ours during the 1st and even 2nd trimester of your pregnancy, then we would suggest rounding out with this program for the 3rd trimester. Speaking from my own experience here (and I had been previously strength training before pregnancy), I did Strength 1.0 during my first trimester, Bikini Body Conditioning for 10 weeks into my 2nd trimester, then started on this program for the end of my 2nd trimester as well as my 3rd trimester! If you did not previosly strength train, please stick to only this program on the modified movement options. You’ll have plenty time post baby to do any of our other programs after you feel strong and healed from completing our PostPartum HealHer Program. After you welcome your sweet bundle of joy to the world, we have a Postpartum HealHer program ready for you after your doctor has released you to get back to exercising!
How To Prevent Diastasis Recti
As listed on the NASM (National Association of Sports Medicine) website and blog:
Diastasis recti abdominis (DRA), commonly shortened to diastasis recti or diastasis, is the separation of the rectus abdominis down the linea alba. While it is a terrifying thought for most, DRA is a reality for up to 70% of pregnant and postpartum women (Hakan, 2018). Though it can also occur in men who carry excess abdominal fat, the condition is most commonly associated with women during and after pregnancy as a result of hormonal shifts and the continual stress placed on the core from carrying a baby to term.
The typical assessment for diastasis is performing a slight abdominal crunch while palpating with two fingers above and below the belly button to feel for a separation of the abdominal wall. A one finger width or smaller is normal, but anything larger than two fingertips is considered DRA. In recent years, crunches have been considered off limits for pregnant and postpartum women. They have been criticized by many bloggers and fitness professionals citing possible strain on the spine as well as increased abdominal pressure. Instead of the crunch, clients have been encouraged to “draw in” their navel to their lower back or “suck in” their belly during exercise. As with many recommendations, there is a bit of truth to these ideas. It is true that pulling on the neck can strain the spine (flexion itself does not), excessive intra-abdominal pressure should also be avoided, and it is best for the core muscles to stay engaged during physical activity.
While it would be nice to end there, the human body is incredibly complex which means that issues like diastasis recti are rarely black and white. Even though crunches have been proven to be effective to strengthen the core and close the gap, a study using ultrasound technology showed that they may also distort the linea alba in people with DRA. However, when performed after engaging the transversus abdominis (TrA), the distortion was reduced or eliminated (Lee & Hodges, 2016). This finding reinforces the idea that crunches are not inherently good or bad, but like most exercises, they must be taught and performed correctly to reap the benefits. While making subtle adjustments is necessary, many expectant and new mothers unnecessarily cease all core exercises in an effort to prevent DRA because of the confusion and controversy surrounding the topic. Preventing diastasis is far easier than attempting to fix the problem after it has occurred. Allowing core muscles to atrophy for nine months (and then followed by several months postpartum) increases the chances of muscles separating under the strain of pregnancy and delivery. The conflicting advice does women a disservice because maintaining a strong core and healthy weight with exercise before, during, and after pregnancy is undoubtedly the best method to avoid DRA.
However, recent studies have shown that the generalized advice that women frequently receive, without detailed guidance, can often do more harm than good — especially for those with DRA. Crunches, or curl-ups as they are called in the scientific literature, are safe and effective for strengthening the core when performed correctly (Schoenfeld & Kolber, 2016). In the PowHer.fit Pump Your Bump Program, while we do not have any traditional crunches or sit ups, you will see some side crunches and other disastatis prevention core movements such as the traditional plank.Planks are safe for most women throughout pregnancy. Static, endurance-based exercises like the plank are actually ideal for expecting women because they strengthen both your abs and your back while putting less pressue on the spine than dynamic exercises, like traditional crunches.
There are a few additional points to consider when helping women prevent or heal diastasis. Since it is not typically advised for women to exercise flat on a hard surface after the first trimester, gentle crunches on a stability ball or a slightly inclined bench are convenient alternatives to the mat. Core strength can also be accomplished by performing deep breathing exercises, pelvic tilts, planks, modified pushups and other bodyweight exercises that engage the abdominals. It is important to avoid deep twisting through the midsection and quick twisting movements like bicycle crunches that add additional stress to the already stretched abdominal wall during and soon after pregnancy. Proper breathing is a critical component for keeping the core strong and avoiding excess strain. The Valsalva maneuver, holding the breath and bearing down commonly associated with crunches, heavy lifting, and other strenuous exercise, creates excess intra-abdominal pressure which can cause serious problems with the core and pelvic floor. Exhaling on the exertion of any movement can alleviate pressure on the abdominals as well as the pelvic floor. Lastly, each exercise should begin with proper alignment to consistently reinforce good posture, promote hip stability, and correct muscle imbalances. Avoiding excessive anterior pelvic tilt or “sway back” will lessen the strain on the abdominal wall and lower back. Mothers returning to exercise after giving birth should ease back into training with a focus on restoring neutral alignment as well as rehabilitating the core and pelvic floor rather than weight loss or intensity. Recent studies have shown that exercise, including curl-ups with an activated TrA, can help close the gap and increase core strength. The research is now shifting more toward optimizing core function, alleviating pain, and improving quality of life. Successfully healing severe cases of diastasis continues to be a challenge which is why encouraging pregnant women and new moms to prevent DRA by maintaining a strong core and dispelling myths about pre- and postnatal exercise is essential.
Top Exercises to Prevent Diastasis Recti
As listed on the NASM (National Association of Sports Medicine) website and blog:
Modified/Side Crunches, Pelvic Tilt with Crunch on Ball or Cushioned Furniture Piece, Modified Pushups, Planks, Hip Circles, Cat Pose, Opposite Arm and Leg Extension, and Hip Bridges.
All of these movements (and more full body resistance training movements as well as labor training cardio endurance moves) are used in the PowHer.fit Pump Your Bump Program. Within our program you’ll find instructional and educational videos with voice over audio coaching commands. We want our members to feel comfortable yet challenged to reap the benefits that exercising mamas AND THEIR BABIES receive from working out during pregnancy. This course is an educational, tailorable program to your own skill set based on what will feel comfortable for your body, as well as it virtually will feel like you’re working out with a trainer or a pregnancy fitness buddy the entire time!
Nutrition Overview for the Pregnancy Program
Please refer to the PowHer.fit Nutrition Overview and choose the Pregnant Option on Step #1. The Nutrition Overview is accessible to all PowHer.fit members, as well is customizable and tailorable to their own personal goals. When you login at www.PowHer.fit, you’ll notice the Nutrition Overview Set Up is listed and linked as #1 on your welcome page!
Meet The Certified Professional Trainer
The professional and certified personal trainer who helped to create, develop and give his official stamp of approval on this program is Jeff McCoy.
Jeff has been with us at PowHer.fit since October 2019, and he comes with 16 years of professional training experience. On top of his professional training certifications, he also has his college degrees in Kinesiology.
Why did we choose Jeff? Well aside from the fact that he comes with a plethora of knowledge and experience, his wife is set to go into delivery with baby boy #4 at any day now as I type this up. His family will have 4 boys all ages 5 and under, so he also brings such a real-life perspective on pregnancy fitness by seeing first-hand all the changes that his own wife went 4x through on her own pregnancy journeys.
Jeff helped teach me many ways to take many resistance training movements to make them safe, secure, and stable for pregnant women. You’ll learn, see and hear about all of these movements in our 12 week full body program that has a strong emphasis on core and pelvic core work as well. The goal is to help as many women as possible gain strength, build labor training cardio endurance, as well as improve on their abdominal wall, pelvic floor, and breathing during this journey.
All of us here at PowHer.fit are extremely proud of this program and the benefits it will provide to many, many pregnant women!
Can I Do this Program at Home?
Absolutely. We have filmed it to where you can do it either at home or in the gym! You pick whichever works better for your lifestyle!
What Equipment Will I Need?
For the gym program: Dumbbells, Resistance Bands, Floor Mat, Bench, Swiss Ball and Access to a Treadmill.
For the home program: Dumbbell Substitution of household items such as water bottles (for modified movements), water jugs (for standard movements), detergent bottles (for standard movements), Resistance Band Substitution of old stretchy yoga pants for standard movements (modified movements do not require any type of resistance band or substitution), a Floor Mat Substitution like a towel or bath mat, a bench substitution like a chair, a step, stairs, a solid box shaped object or even a piece of furniture, a Swiss Ball substitute like a chair, the edge of a bed or a couch, and somewhere to run/walk like a neighborhood with paved roads or sidewalks, an open field or ranch, or even a walking trail.
Is There a FREE Trial?
For now, there is NO FREE TRIAL for this program. There is so much value in this 12 week program for the starting price of $49/month that we are not offering a FREE trial. You can see our full body strength training style of workouts for FREE by choosing the home or gym free trial to start. I also ended up typing the ENTIRE OVERVIEW of the paid program to share here, so there’s tons of FREE value right here for you!
Is This Recommended for Pregnant Women with Twins or Multiples?
That would be up to your doctor as to whether or not you are high risk and are cleared to exercise. I would definitely suggest the modified movements with bodyweight only or the 1-2 pound weighted objects if the doctor does give his/her blessing!
What If I’m Not Yet Pregnant, But Am Planning to Conceive Soon?
Then let’s get to work sister! The better shape you get in BEFORE pregnancy, the better off you are DURING pregnancy. We suggest Strength 1.0 followed by Bikini Body Conditioning at PowHer.fit for best results! If you strength train before, you will be able to do our other programs (that of course have pregnancy modifications where needed) as well as you’re more likely to be able to do the standard movements rather than just the modified movements once you move into the Pump Your Bump program! Getting in shape BEFORE pregnancy will not do anything but HELP your body get strong and healthy which can increase your chances of conceiving!
Can I take a break during the first trimester and pick back up once my energy is back in the 2nd trimester/when I feel better?
Absolutely. We know each pregnancy journey is different. Due to exhaustion or sickness, your body may force you to take a break. We advise you always listen to your body and not push it during this season. You can pick back up where you left off or even start over on day 1 of this program once you’re feeling better!
What if I have additional questions?
Please email us at email@example.com so we can better help answer your questions regarding your upcoming or current pregnancy fitness journey with us!
How do I Sign Up?
Simple – just head to www.PowHer.fit and be sure to choose the active membership that suits you best! Once you login with your member credentials you’ll see your welcome page that has all of our nutrition guidelines, training programs and member forums listed and linked accordingly. As an active member, you can enroll or unenroll from any program as you wish. You gain access to EVERYTHING starting at only $49/month!
Thank y’all so much for reading and encouraging this mission I’m on to help make women have stronger and healthier pregnancies, deliveries and bounce back periods for their bodies. It’s something I’m even more passionate about with my previous love of full body strength training while now being pregnant with our first child – Baby Boy Carrabba due August 9, 2020!
In case you missed our Fireworks Gender Reveal Show Blog Post – I’m linking it HERE! It was an absolutely beautiful, sentimental and memorable event at our home that we will never forget!