How to Squat During
Once you find out you are pregnant, there can be so many questions, thoughts, worries and excitements swirling around your mind. If you are a gym enthusiast, one of your concerns the first couple months will likely be navigating your workouts, learning what exercises you can still do and how you might need to modify them along them the way.
One of our favorite exercises to incorporate into our Strong Pregnancy programs for low risk mamas-to-be are squats. Whether you do them with only your body weight, a light set of dumbbells, or a loaded barbell — squats can benefit you and your baby by improving your labor, delivery and the recovery process!
In fact, many midwives and progressive OB’s will recommend squatting to:
- Maintain pelvic floor strength
- Keep your glutes strong, which in turn, will stabilize your pelvis and reduce lower back pain
- Build strength and endurance for holding various positions during labor and delivery
An additional benefit of squatting during pregnancy is to maintain and/or build muscle in your quads, hamstrings and glutes for improved body composition, strength and metabolic rate during pregnancy and postpartum.
What you need to know:
The first couple months of pregnancy you will be able to squat as you always have without much change to stance or execution, but you still need to listen to your body. If you’re feeling exhausted or weak, it’s 100% okay and recommended that you take the weight, reps or sets down as needed. It’s also time to stop aiming for personal bests and performing sets or reps where your form suffers. Let the ease and quality of your movement dictate the weight you use.
As your baby bump starts growing, your center of gravity will change and your hips, back and inner thighs may feel extra tight. At this point you will need to be even more diligent about doing a proper warm up and you may need to take the weight down more significantly as you adjust to changes in your body and to practice your new form.
For most, this weight drop is temporary and once you feel more stable in your new leverages, you will be able to safely increase the resistance a bit. (And if not, that’s ok too Mama!)
These are the modifications you may need to make to your squat during pregnancy:
Widen your stance.
If you normally squat with your feet at hip width, for example, you will likely need to bring each foot half to one full inch wider. This will create more space for your bump to fit between your hips, will provide a better foundation for you to stay balanced and will help to more evenly distribute your weight.
A more narrow stance (if you can even get into a full squat like this) will pitch your chest forward & shift your hips back which will screw up your bar path, put a strain on your lower back and create a good morning movement pattern rather than a squat.
Evenly distribute your breath.
It’s common for experienced lifters to bring their pre-pregnancy diaphragmatic breathing and bracing with them into their pregnancy training.
The problem with breathing like this is that by pushing your breath OUT against your stomach, it creates a lot of pressure against your linea alba (the line of connective tissue that runs down the middle of your stomach). This pressure can exacerbate diastasis recti during pregnancy & beyond in the postpartum period.
You still want to diaphragm breathe (IE breath air into diaphragm, not chest), but take gentle breaths. Don’t create intense pressure and be careful not to just push out! Evenly distribute your breath down, out, up and back into your lower back.
Push BACK against the bar.
Even with the wider stance, your changing body and new leverages are going to create more of a forward lean in your squat. Instead of thinking of standing the weight up, think of pushing back into the barbell & wedging your hips forward to get out of the hole.
Slow the eccentric portion.
Don’t just drop into your squat letting gravity take over. Squeeze the bar, screw your feet in, drive your knees out and open your hips and lower the weight with control and intention.
Listen to your body.
Let your body determine the weights you use. It’s not the time to be a gym class hero. Focus on movement and meet yourself, and your body, where you’re at each day.
How to Squat While Pregnant Video Demonstration
Scale when needed.
Look, you’re pregnant. Your body is stretching to extreme lengths to create a human. It’s ok to swap out barbell squats for kettlebell squats, leg press, belt squats, box squats or to use a light dumbbell or your bodyweight to get the job done.
How To Scale A Squat While Pregnant
You deserve a gold star for just showing up and working out. Don’t be a slave to past accomplishments. You’ll get back there someday if you want to. ❤️
THE FITBLISS STRONG PREGNANCY PROGRAM
In a world full of people ready to tell pregnant women that they should sit back, put their feet up, and only do some light walking for exercise, are you looking for a program coached by strong mamas who can guide you through a safe, healthy pregnancy that still includes your beloved weight training?