She’s swapped HIIT for LISS and has some strong feelings on women working out with weights in pregnancy…
Kayla Itsines is probably the Duracell bunny of Insta-famous PTs - she’s best known for her HIIT heavy Bikini Body Guide workouts and love of plyometrics (that’s jumping moves to the uninitiated). With the announcement of her pregnancy in December last year, however, came a necessary change to her fitness plan, incorporating her growing bump, the nausea she felt during her first trimester especially and her depleted energy levels. As such, it’s been out with the hard and heavy sessions, rest days are far more regular and there’s many classic Kayla moves that she’s either adapted for pregnancy or stopped completely. Here’s how Kayla’s pregnancy workouts have shaped up, plus the prenatal fitness moves to try whether you’re expecting or not (Kayla emphasises that her pregnancy workout can benefit almost anyone).
She’s upped the rest days
Kayla’s now in her third trimester and feeling far less nauseous than at the beginning of her pregnancy, but getting good quality rest still takes priority over training, as she explained to her followers a few days ago:
“I’m now 31 weeks and I am feeling MUCH better. I still need a nap or rest every day but other than that, I feel good. I’m just listening to my body and making sure I am fed, hydrated and rested! Training comes last in that list when it comes to pregnancy. That’s not to say you don’t do it, that’s just to say that you need to focus on eating, resting and staying hydrated BEFORE you go and do anything.”
Caps left in for emphasis - rest days rule, especially in pregnancy.
She walks everywhere
Whether it’s to get some gentle movement into her day:
“The little things I am doing to stay healthy are walking, drinking plenty of water, eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and resting.”
...Or when her baby is kicking in the middle of the night:
“I woke up again at 3:30am to muffin doing her exercises in my tummy. I couldn’t even be bothered fighting it so I just got up and went for a walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes and of course that put her back to sleep.”
She’s stepped back from lower body sessions
“Pregnancy is just so different I have stopped lower body sessions and I am just incorporating legs into my full body workouts 2-3 times per week. I’m actually enjoying the lower intensity exercises for a change! At least you ladies finally get a bunch of “non jumping” workouts.”
Speaking of which...
There’s no jumping
“I am very well known for high intensity jump and bodyweight training. Now, I am doing light weights, and very slow and controlled bodyweight exercises with NO jumping.”
She’s lifting weights
It’s a myth that women can’t lift weights in pregnancy , although if you’ve never lifted before it’s not the best time to begin. If you did weight training previously, however, it’s likely to be more helpful than harmful if done correctly, as Kayla explained to prenatal weight training naysayers on her Instagram account:
“For the ladies who are writing things like “you are not allowed to lift weights while pregnant?!”or “is that safe??”, I want to put this into perspective for you. The weights I’m lifting are rarely over 5kgs per hand.”
“...I do not lift heavy weights, in fact it’s half the weight that I’d usually use. For the mums who have had kids you would be the first to agree that there are plenty of things heavier than 5kgs in your house that you would have to lift or move daily (including other children). So in answer to your questions on my videos, no, the weight is not too heavy, it actually feels too light for me. No, I am not hurting the baby. No, my heart rate is not over 150 and yes, you can use weights while pregnant. You just need to follow pregnancy safe exercises and you must first have clearance from your doctor.”
And that’s that. If you’ve been given the go-ahead by your doctor, here’s how working out with weights during pregnancy could help you to prepare for labour.
She’s strengthening her back
Kayla’s using light weights to help to alleviate any pregnancy related back pain:
“My torso is very small - I don’t have a long torso at all so I need to maintain good posture or I am going to be very uncomfortable. I have been doing exercises with light weights to help my back muscles stay strong but these are not pregnancy specific - anyone can do them!”
She’s not worried about her abs
Many women worry about what will happen to their abs in pregnancy or feel the pressure to “bounce back” afterwards, but Kayla is keen to emphasise that staying active in pregnancy is about keeping your body and your baby healthy and boosting your energy levels and endorphins - the last thing she wants is women to feel the strain, either physically or mentally:
“Pregnancy is a very special time. If you choose to train during pregnancy, it should be to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is not a time to concentrate on training for abs, weight loss, fat loss or anything extreme.”
Kayla also doesn’t want pregnant women, or any women really, to compare and despair or use Kayla’s social media posts as a yardstick by which to measure themselves and their progress (or apparent lack of it), because as we all know, Insta posts don’t always tell the whole truth...
“I just want to say, I know that it looks like I’m so fit but I need you ladies to know that pregnancy for me, has definitely not been an easy journey. I don’t ‘feel’ fit at all. I am saying this because I don’t want you to feel pressure when you look at me and what I’m doing on my pregnancy journey - to workout or ‘eat clean’. I’m working through this as all women do and doing what I believe is safe and healthy for my baby, which is different for every woman’s journey. I need you to understand that my workouts aren’t the complete reflection of my entire day. I’m also tired and get fatigued and take rest periods during the day.”
And with that, give these Kayla pregnancy workout routines a go if you’ve been given the green light by your doctor, stopping if you feel uncomfortable at any point and ensuring you get lots of rest. Also, if you don’t feel up to these, don’t go there, and reintroduce movement with a gentle walk or swim instead.