Exercise during pregnancy
A recent visit of Team Masters to Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, for attending the Junior Mr. India competition got us the privileged opportunity of interacting with one of the greatest representatives of Indian bodybuilding and fitness industry, V.M. Basheer.
When we told him about how I trained and ate during my pregnancy, he encouraged us to immediately write a story about that for more people to benefit.
In November 2006, I had written a story about this in the best bodybuilding magazine in the country, Boybuilding Master (Tamil). I have presented here a similar English version of that story….
From the trenches
I have been hitting the gym since 2002 and maintained my body in reasonably good shape. Though very weak initially, I gradually gained strength and could perform Squats using 40 kg, Deadlifts using 60 kg, Triceps Bench Dips using 50 kg and Dumbbell Shrugs using 24 kg, all at a bodyweight of 39 kg (height 5’ 1”)!
In 2006, when I got my pregnancy confirmed, I was advised to lay-off weight training for the first three months..
I started training from the fourth month. First I did movements such as Front Raises, Lateral Raises and Shoulder Abductions without using any weights, as a warm-up for shoulders and rotator cuff…
As the first exercise in my training routine, I did 3 sets of 15 reps on Leg Extensions, deliberately using light weights. The weights I loaded were only a fraction of what I used to handle. I ensured that I never strained myself during any movement. This is the most important thing pregnant women should retain in their mind.
The next two movements were Incline Dumbbell Flyes and Dumbbell Front Raises, each 3 sets of 15 reps using very light weights. Pregnant women are neither supposed to hold their breath nor lift weights overhead. So, I avoided Bench Presses and Shoulder Presses.
The third exercise was One Arm Reverse Grip Pressdowns for triceps, again 3 sets of 15 reps. The one arm variation is a better choice for pregnant women because it reduces intra-abdominal pressure which may creep in during the standard Pressdowns exercise.
The next movement was 3 sets of 15 reps of Straight-arm Pulldowns.
It was followed by either Alternate Dumbbell Curls or Hammer Curls using light weight, 3 sets of 15 reps.
Most important exercise
The last and final exercise was Pelvic Tilt, 3 sets of 10 reps. Even those who vehemently condemn weight training, insist that womenfolk perform this exercise.
This was the routine I performed three non-consecutive days a week under the watchful eye of Murtuza Rasheed, member of Team Masters. Three other days, I went for walks without straining myself.
As regards diet, there is a misconception that pregnant women should eat for two persons. This is very incorrect.
People often do not understand what doctors mean when they say that pregnant woman may gain about 10-12 kg of weight. If you pile on too much of useless fat during pregnancy, it will hamper delivery and you will eventually find it almost impossible to get back into shape. I ate a little more than usual amount of healthy foods such as soyabeans, egg whites, oats, wheat bread and fibrous vegetables. I also ate moderate amount of fruits such as oranges and bananas.
I consumed more of fibrous vegetables and avoided juices to keep a check on simple sugar intake. Fibre is very important to keep bowel movement healthy during pregnancy.
I also made it a point to read books and stories that were about winners and full of optimism and positive notes — Eg: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Education of a bodybuilder.’
On the night of August 23, I finished my workout and came home. At about 1 a.m. or so (August 24), I felt a mild discomfort in my abs and went for a check-up. I was admitted to hospital immediately and at 3.40 a.m., my son, Ajai, was born.
The trouble-free delivery surprised even my gynecologist. I was discharged the same day and returned home in the evening!
I started training using mild weight after a couple of months and have almost gained back my old shape and strength.
My gynecologist even told me to think about coming to her clinic and training pregnant women who come there for check-up. That I am unable to take it up owing to several reasons is a different story.
However, pregnant women who want to begin a training programme should do so only after consulting their doctor and under the guidance of a well-qualified, experienced trainer.
Tailpiece: On August 24, my husband, who had been transferred and was working in Madurai, flew down to Chennai to see me and his junior. Even as we were talking, we had a very important guest – our biggest well-wisher, legendary trainer and master of all masters ‘Olympia’ Jai ( K.P Jayakumar)
He blessed Ajai saying that the son of a couple committed to bodybuilding and fitness lifestyle will emerge a great champion in the future.
Now aged a little over two, Ajai eats very healthy food and spends a lot of time in the gym, running on treadmill and rolling heavy dumbbells on the floor. And, he is also a big fan of 8-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, just like his father!
The master’s words can never go wrong.
_ P. Srimathy