Deadlifting is a popular exercise the world-over because it enables you to engage several different muscle groups all at once, giving you serious results with just one overall motion.
So if you are a fan of this compound exercise and have recently become pregnant, you’re probably wondering if it’s safe to continue deadlifting during your pregnancy.
The short answer is yes, deadlifting is safe for pregnant women, provided you make some simply modifications and don’t overdo things.
But what if you’ve never done the exercise before and want to start during your pregnancy?
And what sort of modifications should you make to keep you and your baby safe?
Let’s find out.
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Can You Lift Weights While Pregnant?
It might be helpful to first look at whether pregnant women can or should lift weights in the first place.
Unfortunately there is no definite answer to this question, because all pregnancies are different so it depends on your individual background, circumstances and lifting experience.
However, experts including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) state that resistance exercise, which includes lifting weights, is typically safe during pregnancy.
The general advice is also that if you regularly lifted weights before becoming pregnant, it should be fine to continue doing so provided you make some modifications (more on this later).
But if lifting weights is new to you, it’s wise to speak with your midwife first.
It It Safe To Deadlift While Pregnant?
Yes, for most expecting moms, deadlifting is something you can safely do during your pregnancy.
As we alluded to above, if you did the exercise before your pregnancy then it’s most likely safe to continue doing so while pregnant.
If on the other hand you are new to deadlifting, it might be wise to either wait until after your baby is born, or to speak with a medical professional before starting a program for the first time.
If you do decide to proceed, it’s a good idea to make some modifications to your technique, which we will cover below.
How To Deadlift Safely During Pregnancy
Just as with squatting, deadlifting is typically safe during pregnancy, especially if it’s an exercise you’ve been doing for a while before you started your pregnancy.
But that does not mean you should do exactly the same as normal, because there are some recommended modifications that pregnant women should make to their technique.
In addition to the modifications below, you should stop if you feel any pain, strain or shortness of breath, and it’s best to always use common sense and never push yourself too hard.
During your first trimester your pregnancy bump will be small enough to enable you to continue with your normal routine without changing too much.
But it’s a good idea to reduce the weight you lift as you progress towards the second trimester, and to only lift around 65% to 70% of your one rep maximum (1RM).
Once you’re into the second trimester, your growing belly will begin to be more of a factor, making it more difficult to maintain your normal stance and technique.
It is therefore advisable to modify your form by doing either of these two versions:
- Sumo Deadlift: where you widen your stance, which in turn decreases the motion you need to make and allows more room for your pregnancy belly.
- Elevated Deadlift: where the bar starts slightly higher than usual (i.e. not on the ground), which again decreases the range of motion and allows more space for your growing bump.
The third trimester is when you will notice the biggest amount of growth in your belly, which means you will need to make even more space for your bump.
You may therefore want to try an elevated sumo deadlift, which as the name suggests, is a sumo deadlift (wider stance than usual) combined with a bar that starts in an elevated position raised off the ground.
Other Tips For Safe Deadlifting While Pregnant
- Use proper lifting technique, and avoid weights that are too heavy.
- Breath properly, which means breathing out as you lift the weight and breathing in as you lower the weight, and never hold your breath when lifting.
- Aim for moderate endurance rather than trying to lift heavy weights at very low reps.
- Ask for help from a professional trainer to check your form and to receive recommendations tailored to you and your body.
- Rest well between your strength training workouts – 48 hours or more of rest is a good rule of thumb.
- Your body often knows best, so if something is uncomfortable or feels unusual, then stop immediately.
Benefits Of Deadlifting While Pregnant
As mentioned above, experts typically agree that strength training can be beneficial for pregnant women for several reasons, including:
- Strengthens your abdominal (core) muscles, helping prevent lower back pain which is a common side effect of pregnancy.
- Helps maintain and manage a healthy body weight.
- Helps control blood pressure.
- Can lead to shorter labor and an easier delivery.
- Improves your body image and confidence.
- Improves your mood, reduces mood swings and alleviates stress.
- Lowers the risk of gestational diabetes (GDM).
So as we can see, strength training (and deadlifting) is great for moms-to-be, because it has the power to make your pregnancy healthier and your delivery more simple with fewer complications.
Just make sure to follow the recommendations above and make the necessary modifications throughout your pregnancy, and whenever in doubt, check with your doctor or midwife.