Keeping a limit on heart rate and exertion used to be the advice doctors would give their pregnant patients. But recent studies, such as the one published in 2011 by the University of Georgia, conclude that strength training during pregnancy is safe and can be beneficial at low-to-moderate intensities. That includes kettlebell training if it's done sensibly. Any workout regimen you intend on undertaking during pregnancy should always be discussed with your OB/GYN first.
Not for Everyone
Although kettlebell training is considered a safe form of resistance training for pregnant women, it would be inaccurate to say that every pregnant woman should exercise with kettlebells. That's because not everyone's health, bodies and fitness levels are the same. The pregnant women who can work out safely and effectively with kettlebells are typically ones who used them before becoming pregnant. They already know the exercises and are aware of how to perform them properly. They tend to be more physically fit, too, and are able to handle kettlebell training while pregnant. If you've never used kettlebells before becoming pregnant, then this isn't a good time to start. Wait until after you've had the baby and your doctor has released you to begin exercising before starting kettlebell training.
Benefits for the Pregnant Woman
It might sound counterintuitive, but working out with kettlebells while pregnant can actually give you more energy while fighting pregnancy fatigue. When you challenge your body with a workout, your cells react by producing energy to meet that challenge. You'll relieve stress when you engage in your kettlebell workout, too, which makes for a healthier environment for your baby to grow in. By performing kettlebell workouts while you're pregnant, you'll be increasing your muscle strength and endurance to help avoid back pain as well as prepare your body for the strenuous labor it will go through.
As Your Pregnancy Progresses
If you're used to being able to work yourself hard, it might be difficult for you to scale back when you become pregnant. But it will be necessary if you want to continue on with your kettlebell exercises. Your body will produce hormones that will loosen and weaken your joints, putting you at risk for injury from any type of workout that stresses the joints. Reduce the weight of the kettlebells you use while pregnant, even eliminating them entirely in your last trimester, if necessary. In her 2012 book "Kettlebells for Women: Workouts for Your Strong, Sculpted and Sexy Body," Lauren Brooks advises against any exercise or movement that causes any type of pain. Listen to your body for warning signs that you need to slow down, such as overheating, nausea, light-headedness or fainting.
While pregnant you should be able to do the majority of the kettlebell exercises you've grown accustomed to doing already, although you may want to steer clear of joint-stressing exercises such as windmills. Some of the safer but just as effective kettlebell exercises you could include in your workout are squats, side presses, single leg deadlifts, bent over rows, front squats, alternating lunges, kettlebell swings and triceps presses.
- Kettlebells for Women: Workouts for Your Strong, Sculpted & Sexy Body; Lauren Brooks
- Kettlebell Fitness: Russian Kettlebell Training For Women
- Journal of Physical Activity and Health: Safety and Efficacy of Supervised Strength Training Adopted in Pregnancy; 2011
- Dragon Door: Kettlebells and Pregnancy
- Workout Mommy: Kettlebell Training During Pregnancy
- YouTube: Baby Bells, Fit Pregnancy Workout DVD with Kettlebells