Whether you are moving a sandbag, a barbell, some farmers handles, or even kettlebells, there are few universal ideas to keep in mind when lifting an external load. If you’re pregnant or postpartum, that throws a little asterisk in the equation, but the universal ideas still ring true.
These are our top five cues to keep in mind when lifting an external load. (Note, we are not discussing percentages or numbers or trimester or week, we are keeping the conversation simple and to the point.)
Keep the external load as close to the center of your body as possible. With a growing belly, you have two variables. You have the load that is attached to you and you have the load that is unattached. This unattached load (that you are moving) can be a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, sandbag, etc. Keep this load as close to your sternum and/or midline as possible.
Maintain an active spine. Life’s universal intelligence has designed our spine in such a way to bear load, distribute force, stabilize, and move in various directions. Maintaining the lordotic curve in the lumbar spine is crucial to efficient movement.
Utilize the powerhouse AKA your posterior chain. Your booty muscles are the biggest pelvic stabilizers. If you do not use them, you will, for sure, lose them, and then your lower back muscles have to work overtime. As your center of gravity moves forward during pregnancy, it becomes crucial that you are able to rely on your posterior chain to prevent you from becoming unstable. During the early postpartum period, establishing posture and breath, and activating the posterior chain are the first things we do. Help your body out some by belly breathing and being intentional when you stand from sitting. Think of the transition from sitting to standing (and vice versa) almost like a good morning. Pregnant or not, if you are only sore in your quads after workouts, then you have some serious imbalances going on. Get that booty working!
Think efficiency. Our bodies are designed to move and operate efficiently. Now, if you are training with a specific goal in mind, like a physique competition or a certain sport, then you may have a bit of a different angle here. But at BIRTHFIT, we are training for life, especially that birth life and subsequent mom life. When thinking of moving a load, we are thinking of the most efficient way possible, especially when Olympic lifting and powerlifting. This includes minimizing the bar path or the distance that the load is moving. This reduces total work and fatigue and possible extreme or unsafe movements.
A solid base of support. Our feet should be just as kinesthetic as our hands. Our toes should be able to move individually and not stay all squished together. Our ankles should have a base of range of motion and strength as well as experience in stability and flexibility in unique situations. Our feet communicate to our bodies a bit about where we are in space. If we are questionable on our feet, we are going to lack support all the way up the body. If you are pregnant or postpartum, this is a great opportunity to really focus on integrating more of your bare feet into some of your training. Why not go barefoot the next time you do some deadlifts or back squats? Spend some time outdoors with no shoes on. Get your feet used to FEELING the earth.
These are basic tips for staying safe while lifting. They work for both pregnant and non-pregnant athletes. If you are concerned about lifting during pregnancy or in the postpartum period, check out our online group coaching, individual consultations, or hit up one of our BIRTHFIT Affiliates near you!