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Ask Greg: Issue 145
Greg Everett

Kelly Asks: Hey Greg! If a woman is a proficient lifter and would like to do a 6 week classic cycle for example, during pregnancy, is there anything you would recommend be modified about it? Thanks so much!
 
Greg Says: First of all, I’m not a medical professional, so understand I’m not suggesting you ever diverge from what your doctor advises and certainly can’t give any specific recommendations for you or any other woman. But I’ll provide some general thoughts on the topic.
 
First, pregnancy isn’t a disease—unless there is an existing medical condition or a history of complications related to pregnancy, there’s certainly no reason for a pregnant woman to be treated or act like an invalid. That said, it’s unquestionably a physical burden and brings with it various complications and potential risks, which should always be kept in mind when deciding what to do in training.
 
During the first trimester, I would generally say training can remain essentially the same with adjustments made day to day as needed according to feel, e.g. reducing volume and/or intensity when not feeling great, taking days off when possibly not planned, etc.
 
As the pregnancy progresses, I’d be increasingly concerned primarily with two things—reducing the strain to joints, and avoiding significant trunk pressurization / breath-holding.
 
Relaxin will increase the laxity of connective tissue, which will reduce the stability of your joints somewhat, meaning it’s not a great state to be in during heavy, ballistic loading, especially as bodyweight increases. I would begin reducing the amount and intensity of lifts that include landing on the floor, e.g. snatch, clean and jerk. You might modify these lifts to keep your feet on the floor throughout along with reducing weight to allow you to perform the movements as long as possible while reducing injury risk.
 
I would avoid pressurizing the trunk by holding the breath during lifts well to avoid significant oxygen restriction and blood pressure elevation. Because lighter weights will be used naturally even if not intentionally reduced as the pregnancy progresses, there will be less and less need for aggressive pressurization, so this shouldn’t be an issue with regard to injury risk.
 
In my experience (having coached a few weightlifters who have each trained through one or more pregnancies), women are typically very good judges of what they’re capable of and what should be avoided at any given time and their discretion should be the ultimate guide. As an outsider, your job is to help them make the best decisions based on that and help them avoid indulging overactive ambition and overdoing it despite knowing better.
 
Cornelis Asks: Hi Greg, love the book and really appreciate you putting all this amazing content out there. I've been weightlifting for a few years now and finally reached a 300 Sinclair. How would a training program differentiate at certain Sinclair levels? What would be the main differences in programming between a 200, 300, 350, 400 Sinclair lifter be?
 
Greg Says: Honestly I never use Sinclair for anything, so I personally wouldn’t delineate program progressions based on it. But generally speaking, as performance level of the lifter increases, you have an increase in volume, frequency and average intensity until reaching the athlete’s peak, at which time volume and frequency may be reduced and intensity can go either way depending on the athlete. Beginning athletes may have a lot of exercise variety, intermediate somewhat less, and advanced may have even less or increase again depending on the athlete and the style of training program. Lifestyle will also become increasingly important for continued progress—the more the lifter advances, the more life needs to be constructed around lifting to support it.


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