Jillian Michaels: ‘Women who train while pregnant come back as better athletes’


I feel like a bit of a boob because I didn’t realize working out while pregnant was such a contentious topic. I’d always thought it was okay to workout but a small search on the internet shows countless warnings on the subject. With that in mind, Jillian Michaels, who wrote, Yeah Baby! The Modern Mama’s Guide to Mastering Pregnancy, Having a Healthy Baby, and Bouncing Back Better Than Ever, gave some really sound advice and clarifies the boundaries well in her most recent interview. Not only does Jillian confirm you can workout, she suggested those who do might come out of pregnancy stronger athletes because of it.

Alter your workout but don’t switch it “The first trimester, [you need to modify] very little. The second trimester, moderately, and the third trimester, pretty significantly. But, the golden rule nowadays is that you want to match your level of fitness, your intensity level, of where you were at before the baby. It’s definitely not time to say, ‘I’m going to take up running!’ No. If you weren’t running before, don’t take up running now. If you were running before, you’ll be fine to keep running.”

Hormones will make you stronger “Something really cool about pregnancy fitness, is that we’ve learned that women who train while pregnant, actually come back as better athletes. There have been a number of studies on it, and there are theories that the hormones shift while you’re training, and taking advantage of them can make you significantly more fit, and those results last, and plus, the baby is lending you embryonic stem cells, so it’s kind of like a fountain of youth, if you treat your pregnancy in a healthy way — you workout and eat clean.”

Don’t measure yourselves to others “You’ve got women that are running across the finish line of a marathon, and then they’re going to the delivery room. I just think that, it’s not the time. Take it a little easier”

[From People]

Each time I got pregnant, I decided I would start working out and become the fittest pregnant person on the planet. That thought didn’t last as long as it took me to get off the couch, but I have friends who felt the same so it’s good Jillian is putting this out there in a relatable way. What I mean is, my friends and I threw ourselves into unfamiliar workouts and gave up because we weren’t used to it and we were already wiped out from being pregnant. But, like Jillian suggests, finding a way to make your routine into a workout is a great way to continue after pregnancy. I turned out not to be the fittest pregnant person on the planet (quite the opposite) but I walked daily and continued that routine post birth, which evolved into my running routine that I still maintain today.

It was her comments about the hormones that most intrigued me, though. I tried looking it up and I can’t seem to find any of these studies. This article refers to a specific study that showed women who worked out while pregnant were faster and more consistent in their routine years after birth but does not cite the study. Obviously if you are eating well and keeping fit while pregnant, you will be healthier and fitter post pregnancy. There are also pregnancy hormones which make you more flexible and strengthen the areas the baby needs so it makes sense that you could use that to your advantage. Jillian seems to want to quell fears and reassure pregnant women, which is positive advice. My advice to our pregnant readers is ask your OB-GYN.




Photo credit: WENN Photos

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16 Responses to “Jillian Michaels: ‘Women who train while pregnant come back as better athletes’”

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  1. OGoftheOC says:

    My SIL is an ob gyn and always recommends that women continue (not start from scratch) their prior fitness routines. That means runners can continue running, weight room people can continue (but be cognizant or not doing their max rep and making sure their balance etc is not impacted) and cyclists/yoga/swimming people can continue their pre pregnancy fitness.

    It’s great for women during their pregnancies (mental health wise and physically!)

  2. tealily says:

    What I’ve read has said that pregnancy is not a good time to start an intense workout routine, but it’s good to keep up with what you’re already doing, altering if you need to and bearing in mind your ligaments loosen up during pregnancy, so you need to guard your joints a little more than you normally would.

  3. Bridget says:

    She’s wording this really strangely. Yes, by all means keep up with exercise. But the body changes a LOT during pregnancy, and it’s completely unrealistic to expect to continue at the same intensity.

    And she needs to provide those studies, because again – she’s wording this really strangely, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’m not sure what pregnancy hormones would assist in long term athletic gains, not to mention I don’t think ANYONE would describe pregnancy as a “fountain of youth”.

  4. BSeve Up says:

    Is that her family? They’re absolutely beautiful.

  5. ChrissyMS says:

    I was so nauseous the first 4 months of my pregnancies that I could barely move let alone workout then after the fog kind of lifted I was so out of shape that I could not really get on the train aside from walking and light yoga. It was not possible for me but it would have been way better if i was more successful. It was hard to get back into it and my body felt like a mess. It would have been good for my core. I think she is right but it isn’t always possible just due to illness and discomfort ( hip problems etc)

    • Millennial says:

      Me too, Chrissy. More power to the moms who can work out during their pregnancies but I was too barfy and exhausted to exercise until I was at least 4 months pregnant. After that I just swam because that worked for me.

  6. Coco says:

    This makes sense and my doctor pretty much echoed JM’s suggestion to keep doing what you were doing prior to pregnancy, if you can. I had a relatively easy pregnancy and continued my weight lifting, circuit training, and hiking regime (with lots of modifications) until 37 weeks. I felt I was training to carry a baby through pregnancy and labor is quite the marathon. I’ve been stronger since but I figured it was from lifting up my toddler, lol. That’s an interesting theory about pregnancy hormones affecting your fitness level in a positive way. Studies?

  7. MandyMc says:

    Her hair looks pretty like that.
    I messed up my SI joint in my pelvis during my second pregnancy. Not from working out but from lifting my toddler and carryin boxes when we moved. That “no heavy lifting” rule is no joke if you aren’t used to it. A month of physical therapy starting 8 days post partum taught me my lesson.

  8. SheBug says:

    It’s good that she’s demystifying this, some people still think pregnant women are too fragile to do anything and you must be selfish if you want to keep working out. Ultimately everyone should talk to their doctor about this issue. I have known some sedentary women who were advised to take up something mild like walking around the neighborhood during pregnancy.

  9. justcrimmles says:

    I take her with a grain of salt. She recently blasted the ketogenic way of eating, calling it Atkins, repackaged. It’s not. Atkins is merely low carb, keto is low carb, high fat, moderate protein.

    • Miss Kittles says:

      I actually agree with her. Keto is basically Atkins repackaged…. not the same but very similar. Everyone I knew on Atkins ate mostly meat, some veggies. They were eating bunless burgers, etc. Thats what I see people on Keto doing.

    • Vesuvia says:

      But that’s what Atkins originally was, before Atkins died and the corporation started pushing frankenfoods for profit: very low carb, moderate protein, high fat. Go pick up an Atkins book from the 70s at a thrift shop and you’ll find that the “induction” period is basically designed to put you into ketosis and keep you there.

  10. leskat says:

    My last pregnancy I did 3-4 spin classes a week from 6 weeks pregnant to 32 weeks pregnant and I credit that with keeping my weight gain reasonable (15 lbs) and feeling more energetic than my first pregnancy. I felt like I bounced back physically and mentally quickly after my c-section, too. I was very, very lucky that my pregnancies didn’t involve any sickness and I wasn’t falling over tired all the time either. If you’re pregnant, get out there and do whatever you can to keep moving. Your physical and mental wellbeing will thank you after the baby arrives.

  11. Kirksey says:

    I never understood why people think that pregnant women suddenly become frail and weak.

    When I was pregnant with my daughter the doctor constantly stressed the importance of staying active, not because it would keep my weight down (which it didn’t), but because it would help to maintain the strength of my pelvic floor which would make it easier to push the baby out.

    I had a job where I was on my feet all day, but I still tried to walk about 3 miles a day (usually took about an hour to do).

    When it was finally time to give birth I was 60 pounds heavier, and it took forever for me to dilate, but at least it only took me 30 mins to push her out lol.

  12. Pandy says:

    Love advice for pregnant women coming from women who were never pregnant.