Breaking A Sweat, Without Breaking My Back

Cardio changes during pregnancy

My cardio routine has changed drastically since getting knocked up. Before, I would run five to eight kilometres through the forest a couple of times per week, venture out on some kind of challenging hike on the weekends, and sprinkle in various box jumps, burpees, kettlebell swings, and sled pushes throughout my workouts. Unfortunately, I’ve had to say, “Good bye for now!” to most of these activities.

A fun little side effect of my pregnancy is fucking horrible lower back pain. I used to get this kind of pain in the past, right before my period was about to start, but it has never been this bad. I’ve read up about this, and it’s because my ligaments are loosening and my body is changing as I grow. There are days when 15 minutes of walking leaves me moaning, and groaning, as I feebly try to massage my back to release the tension.

Over the last few weeks I’ve become quite in tune with my lower back and I have learned which movements to avoid. I know that regular exercise is incredibly beneficial to mom and baby during pregnancy, so I’ve had to modify my cardio training a lot.

Running is incredibly jarring on my back, so I’ve switched over to power walking up hill on the treadmill. To fight the absolute mind-numbing boredom of this activity, I spice it up by performing six to eight, three minute intervals/recoveries as outlined below:

Hill Interval Workout

  • Warm up: 3.8 speed at 10% incline – 5 mins
  • Interval: 3.8 speed at 15% incline – 2 mins
  • Recovery: 3.8 speed at 10% incline – 1 min
  • Cool down: 3.0 speed at 5% incline – 3 mins

When my back is really on the fritz, even hills and power walking is too much for me to bear. I have to keep my posture upright, without any forward lean, or long strides. I’ve discovered that the  only form of cardio that allows for this is the stepmill. This monstrous machine kicks my ass while sparing my back. And as much as I loath the twenty sweat-filled minutes I spend on it four to five times per week, I am so grateful that I’ve got an outlet to train on. I keep this workout simple.

Stepmill Workout

  • Climb 100 floors

I’m not trying to break any records here. I’m fucking pregnant! I’m just trying to break a sweat, get my heart rate up, and visualize two healthy bodies (mine, and my baby’s). Some days one hundred floors takes me twenty minutes, some days it takes twenty-five. Either way I end up with sweat dripping down my face and between my boobs.

The past sixteen weeks have taught me to put my ego aside, and set realistic goals. Most commonly these goals are as simples as performing any kind of activity for at least thirty minutes, be it yoga in my living room, some cardio followed by stretches that make my back feel good, or lifting weights. And some days my only goal is to power through the day without hiding in my office closet and taking a nap on the floor during my lunch break. Either way, I do just try to do my best every day.

Pregnant or not, what are your favourite cardio routines? Comment below and let’s motivate each other!

2 thoughts on “Breaking A Sweat, Without Breaking My Back

  1. I was happy to read this. I am 4 months pregnant and feeling lame that my running skills dropped drastically. First thing I noticed was I would be out of breath fast and almost instant heart racing causing a bit of panic. Then I learned of the increased fluids in my body and my body making 60% more blood which has my heart working some overtime. Also I noticed that evening after any exercise of my legs, I would have rather painful leg cramps. I had to attune with my new evolving prego body and look into other forms of exercises and definately had to increase my stretching sessions. I think I will save the running for when its time to unpack the jogging stroller 😂


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