T Nation

Deads a Powerlifting Maneuver?


I work at my gym in the childcare. I don't always have kids, so I come out and talk to the members and my fellow employees - all of which are PT's and 1 is a former competitive BB'er. (Small club.)

One of the trainers (not the bb'er) told me that since I'm pregnant, I shouldn't be doing much other than cardio and circuit training on the machines. He said I shouldn't even go in the free weights room. (Nice guy, but I don't agree.)

He knows I dl and squat and he told me the following:

Deads are mainly a powerlifting maneuver. (So?) He indicated that I don't need them.

Anybody got anything to counter that? For the record, I completely disagree. But I want to cnovince him, or at least let him know I'm not a dummy. LOL!

As it is, I feel sort of awestruck by Robbie the Real Life BB'er. lol!


I know that deadlifts are one of the "Big Three" which is what powerlifting is based on. However, that doesn't mean it's just for a powerlifter. A deadlift is great IMO because it targets a helluva lotta muscles in the body directly and indirectly, and releases and poo load of GH and all other fun side affects.

I dunno the facts behind pregnant women and deadlifting, so I can't say anything about that, but I do think you should and can deadlift (when you're pregnant, I dunno, may wanna consult a physician), even if you're not a powerlifter.



Thanks, Ghost. that's exactly what I was thinking, too. I don't always verbalize that well, however. :stuck_out_tongue:


By no means is the deadlift only for powerlifters. As gothic said, great exercise. If your MD clears you, do some. It's sure to help your back, which, if you talk to a chiro, can take a beating posture-wise when you're pregnant.

BUT- be sure to clear it with your physician. Who, BTW, will likely advise you not to lift anyway. They typically know so little about resistance training. Unless of course, they're into training too.


I meant to say, as Ghost said. Sorry Ghost. Great comment.


Who the heck "needs" most any particular exercise? Most of us aren't weightlifting because our jobs or survival against marauding Vikings demands fitness at all, much less specific fitness, but because we pick the goals that suit us.

Deadlifting is great for strength of the entire lower body and lower back, and has the added benefit of teaching your body to work as a linked unit. It's also often liked because lifting such heavy loads causes a release of hormones beneficial to the addition of mass on the body. It's one of the best exercises around.

I do wonder if you could put yourself in danger of having your water break by doing especially hard lower body exercises, though. I suppose you could break your bag doing most anything if the strain is great enough. But then again, you don't need to do powerlifting exercises at max poundage, either. Lighter deadlifts can even be done to great advantage, as when you're using them for controlled negatives. Negatives help build muscle, after all.

For a pregnant woman, this could be an ace in the hole when it comes to silly gym arguments. Pregnant women usually or at least very often have back pain somewhere along the line. Deadlifts, by strengthening the back for the new heavy, unbalanced load of your baby, could protect you from a great deal of discomfort during your pregnancy. Some women even have to take to bed for at least a few weeks of pregnancy because their back pains get too severe. Deadlifts could prevent that. And after your baby is born, you will still be carrying around a lot of extra weight -- plus a baby of ever-growing poundage. That extra lower back strength will come in very handy for literally years, until you no longer carry your baby as much. Heck, I think a lot of women would prefer to carry their babies into their teenage years if they could. :slightly_smiling: So you'll get plenty of mileage out of a strong lower back. Doesn't hurt when you're hauling groceries or bending over to wash the dog, either.

To interject a perhaps borderline crude note prompted by the phrase "bending over," a strong lower back is a visual delight in a woman. John Updike called "the arabesque of the spine" the most beautiful part of a woman. I'm inclined to agree. The transition from the bottom up through the lower back to the rest of the back on a fit, athletic woman is a thing of mesmerizing beauty duplicated nowhere else on the body. And it can stay beautiful well past the time when age has taken a toll on beauty.

So besides the general and functional good deads do and the specific good they might do a woman during pregnancy and after, perhaps the thought that in doing them you are making more beautiful the most beautiful part of your body might strike a chord that motivates you to keep on doing them. Even if, for a while, you make some allowances on poundages so you don't break your water or cause a hemorrhoid or whatever. I know roids are common in pregnancy. (On that last note, be sure to do the "anal lock" -- clench down there -- to help prevent roids when you're lifting.)

Well that paragraph sure went from the sublime to the, uh, earthy.

Anyway, powerlifting movements tend to involve many muscles in the body and are very good for overall health and development. I wouldn't endanger my pregnancy for them, but doing them prudently seems to me like it could actually bring you benefits specific to your pregnancy, not be counter-productive. Maybe that guy you're talking to just hasn't thought things out.


I agree. Your doctor probably knows very little about exercise, and to be safe, will just advise walking or whatever seems like the least strenuous thing. This is "traditional" in modern medicine -- a discipline that isn't supposed to be based much on tradition, but actually has a good helping of it.

Further, your doctor pays enormous medical insurance bills. Believe me, the last thing he wants to do is pay more because you broke your water deadlifting after he said it was okay. Even though some people's water breaks even in their sleep or while they're washing their hair.

Personally, I've read that pelvic and abdominal muscle tone can help a great deal in making delivery quicker and easier on the mother.


Your trainer is an idiot.

Although the deadlift may be one of the competitive lifts for powerlifters, it is a great exercise for overall muscular strength and growth for anyone!

Think "training economy" and you know the deadlift is one of the best bang-for-the-buck exercises there is because it hits the entire body.

Since you're in the beginning of your pregnancy, squats and deadlifts are fine. However, you will eventually need to eliminate them as your belly will get in the way at some point, and because they will put too much stress on you. I have read several articles about former female bodybuilders that have trained up to the week of giving birth. I would do some searches to find out what they recommend.

In the meantime, stick to the exercises that will give you the best workout with the least amount of exercises in the least amount of time.

You can still stick to full-body workouts and low-impact cardio and such.


Man, what a wealth of information! You guys freaking ROCK.

Thank you!!

Nate, he's just a co-worker, not my personal trainer! lol!

I wonder what the BB'er would say if I asked him...

Well, either way, I'll keep up with it.

I only dead 95 lbs as it is. And since I know that ligaments and joints are looser in pregnancy, I don't intend to up that until after birth.

I'm not using a doctor, but I did ask my midwife. Let's see what she says...

goes off to check email

Hm. No reply yet. But I know her response isn't going to be one of extreme caution, like doctors. She will tell me to listen to my body, which I already do.


I see that we have many pregnancy experts on this board.. ! The doctor might not have time to post on weight lifting forums all day, but that doesn't mean he doesnt know anything about stress on the body during pregnancy.


nothing will be able to convince that retard, not even this http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=699538&pageNo=0


But doctors are not trained in weight lifting, OR in weight lifting during pregnancy.

I prefer to take the advice of the body building experts on this board and weigh it with the knowledge of myself and my midwives and listen to my body.

So, guys, keep talking because I'm listening.


You may be right - he also doesn't think protein is all that important. eyes rolling

He scoffed and smiled when he realized I was drinking a protein shake. I countered that with, "There is a link between high protein intake during pregnancy and nausea - it keeps me from getting sick. and I doubt you want me throwing up on the carpet in front of the members."



I usually just lurk, but I thought I would share with you what my OB told me. She felt that maintaining my fitness level was a good idea. She emphasized that I was not supposed to increase weights lifted or running speed or anything like that, just maintain for nine months. She also told me to listen to my body and stop if something didn't feel right. At the time, I was running and lifting very light weights, but she told me all that before she knew what I was doing for exercise. Hope this helps.


That DOES help. And that's exactly what I plan to do and what I expect my mw will tell me anyway.

thanks for the backup. :slightly_smiling:


Sorry I can't post anything as expansive as other members, but have a box placed on the ground, or some other possibly light object, in front of that trainer and ask him to pick it up off the ground for you. Make sure to tell him to be careful to lift with his/her legs and not his/her back to prevent injury. Then tell him it was unneccesary to do a deadlift to pick up the box- it's only done in powerlifting.



One counter I can think of: When you've got all that extra weight from baby/boobs, you're gonna be glad that your lower back, gluts, and hams are nice and strong. Ever notice all the pregnant women complaining about lower back pain? Well, just tell him you don't want any!


Simmilar to what EponaLady said, my wife was also advised to continue her workingout. I don't remember how long to continue it though, but it was much longer than what we were expecting from our doctor.

There have also been a lot more articles in newer parent magazines advising weight training before and during pregnancy, which is a very good sign that people ARE starting to get better knowledge about the benefits of training with weights.

I think you're right on about listening to your body.


Firstly, for the record, deadlifts are highly useful for general development. They serve many purposes, and are certainly not just for powerlifters.

For pregnancy, deadlifts are effective (when done properly) at developing strength in the abdominals, lower back, pelvic floor, and diaphragm.

In response to your original question, it is not so much a matter of the choice of exercise as the way it is performed.

There are a few important points to consider:

  1. During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin that softens (weakens) muscles and connective tissue. This is primarily there to allow the pelvic girdle to yield during birth. The side effect is that the whole body becomes weaker and prone to injury. To avoid injury, you should be working submaximally. Particular attention should also be made to joint ranges of motion. Greater joint stresses are encountered at greater ranges of motion. Partial movements in the power rack would be a good choice, particularly at the later stages.

  2. High blood pressure can cause complications during pregnancy. Again, a submaximal load is the best choice. You should be stopping well before failure. A good (general) guide is to stop when you feel the load becoming difficult to lift. Be cautious about your use of the valsalva manoeuvre (breath holding). This raises blood pressure significantly.

  3. As your pregnancy gets into the later stages, the physical size of the baby will inhibit your movement. You may wish to employ a Sumo stance to make the exercise more comfortable and practicable.

As someone mentioned earlier, maintenance should be your aim throughout your pregnancy. Taper the loads and ranges of motion in the later stages, because your body (bones, connective tissue and muscle) will be weaker. Focus on technique, and breath steadily. Stop before you need to employ valsalva. Good luck!


panterarosa had some good comments. One thing to add; you should avoid exercises in the supine position after the first trimester.