Pregnancy, Training, and Heart Rate

One of the best things I ever got certified in as a personal trainer was Pre-and-Post-Natal Training. It’s such an amazing experience to train a woman through one of the most life-changing (and body-changing!) times of her life. Nothing beats the feeling when a client tells me she’s pregnant. I always find out if a new client is planning on having a family, and explain that regardless of the 3-month waiting period where most women don’t tell many people they’re pregnant, your trainer needs to know asap! I am therefore very blessed to have been among the first to know for many clients, and my whole approach to their training changes, with a new program designed for pregnancy.


I follow all ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) guidelines for exercising while pregnant. I also follow any direction made by my client’s doctor. Contrary to popular opinion, the  guideline for heart rate monitoring under a certain BPM is no longer part of the ACOG recommendations. I can’t tell you how many doctors still advise their patients stay under a certain number of BPM (140 seems to be most popular). Please know that the official, current ACOG recommendation is for cardiovascular exercise to remain in a moderate zone. If, however, your physician indicates a certain heart rate on your medical clearance form, I have to follow that recommendation.


So…be like one of my bad-ass pregnant clients recently. She wears her heart rate monitor during all our sessions. We both have a good knowledge of her heart rate zones, based both on the Karvonen formula, and on experience through our training. When she got pregnant, she took a medical clearance form to her doctor, who suggested she stay at 140 BPM during exercise.


“Seriously?” asked my client. “140? You realize I can practically get up to 140 just walking upstairs.” Her doctor thought for a moment, and amended the clearance form for her to stay within a moderate heart rate zone. Love her! And can’t wait to meet her little baby girl in January. After all, I trained her in utero. 😉

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