How I Coach Pregnant Personal Training Clients for Fat Loss

Almost half of all pregnant personal training clients gain too much weight throughout their 9 month journey which can lead to a host of health issues for both mother and child.

Gestational diabetes, postpartum and urinary tract infections, miscarriage and c section complications to name a few.

But what classifies as gaining too much weight?

Well, here’s how the Institute of Medicine break down healthy weight gain throughout pregnancy:

- Breasts, 1–2 lbs

- Baby Growth, 6–8 lbs

- Placenta, 1–2 lbs

- Uterus, 1–2 lbs

- Amniotic Fluid, 2–3 lbs

- Blood, 3–4 lbs

- Protien & Fat Stores, 8–10 lbs

- Bodily Fluids, 3–4 lbs

- Total, 25–35 lbs

Female clients who are underweight are recommended to gain a little more on the 25–35 lb scale, and overweight a little less.

During the first trimester (0–13 weeks) pregnant clients should only be gaining 1–2 lbs of the grand total, with the remainder coming post week 14.

So, how should you help personal training clients stay inside the healthy weight range and avoid excessive weight gain?

Changes You Need to Make With Pregnant Clients

I recommend some type of exercise daily (even just 30 minutes of steady walking will suffice) and 3 to 5 scheduled workouts per week lasting 30–60 minutes.

Your clients should be performing a combination of moderate intensity resistance training and cardiovascular work.

Let’s dive in to the specifics.

Warming Up & Cardio

Start with 5 minutes of low intensity cardio (a 3/10 on the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale), I recommend:

- Treadmill

- Cycling

- Light Step Box Work (Toe Tapping for example)

- Walking

For both the warm up and the main cardio segment ensure the focus is on low impact movements and minimal range of motion for the hips.

Next, you’ll want to move on to the primary cardio training.

I recommend 10–20 minutes working in the 4–6 range on the RPE scale, utilising the cardio formats recommended above. This will aid clients in maintaining a higher calorie output, retaining a healthy figure and improving their fetus’ heart health.

Resistance Training

Once you’ve completed your cardio work I recommend 30 minutes of moderate strength training, which will aid your clients in maintaining muscle mass.

I recommend that you avoid excessive isolation or shoulder pressing movements to avoid escalating her blood pressure.

Here’s a great full body routine to progress on with pregnant clients.

Dumbbell Squat — 2 sets of 10–12 reps

Dumbbell Deadlift — 2 sets of 10–12 reps

Dumbbell Bench Press — 2 sets of 10–12 reps

Dumbbell Shoulder Press — 2 sets of 10–12 reps

Seated Cable Row — 2 sets of 10–12 reps

Bodyweight Pelvic Tilt — 2 sets of 20 reps

Aim to rest 1 to 2 minutes in between each set and exercise.

In terms of progression, you should add weight to the exercise once your client can do the maximal number of reps shown with good form.

If you’re an experienced weightlifter used to giving everything you’ve got to your weightlifting, I recommend you dial the intensity back a bit while pregnant.

There’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself in your workouts but all-out, max-effort training while pregnant increases the risk of injury to you and your baby and just simply isn’t worth it.

Also, it’s worth noting that as you move through your second trimester and enter your third, you’ll want to do as many seated movements as possible, minimizing up and down movements, for example, switching the dumbbell bench press for a seated chest press machine.

I hope this helps to give you a concise and clear path to maintaining your fitness regime during your own or your clients’ pregnancy cycle. Lift moderately, eat healthily and continue your training regime and habits throughout.