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Pregnancy Week 18: Cardio, Core & CRAVINGS!!!

19 April, 2015

Pregnancy Week 18: Cardio, Core, and CRAVINGS!!!

Did anyone else read the headline story on supermodel Sarah Stage, her ultra-toned pregnancy bod, and the arrival of her perfectly healthy 8lb+ baby boy?

I sure did.

Props to her for staying so slim during her pregnancy. But let’s be serious, that is certainly not what most of us are aiming for! I am totally fine with putting on those extra pounds, because, hey, isn’t this one of the only times in your life where you get a thumbs up when you gain some weight?!

Last week I talked about the advice I received from pregnancy exercise guru Dr. Julia Alleyne in regards to weight training.

Today I want to talk about the advice that she gave me on cardio and core, and also, my personal choices when it comes to the nutrition I am putting in to my body, which includes an ice cream cone here and there!


Times have changed. And so have the rules when it comes to cardio guidelines in pregnancy.

The old rule of thumb = don’t get your heart rate over 140bpm. This rule is no longer used as the be-all, end-all measure and is being supplemented with Borg’s 15-point Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale and the “talk test” as alternate methods of quantifying exercise intensity. Borg’s scale ranges from 6 (no exertion at all) to 20 (maximal exertion). A target range of 12 to 14 is suggested in pregnancy. The “talk test” implies that a pregnant woman can carry on a verbal conversation during exercise, if she is exercising at a safe intensity.

This is what I follow.

I ride the bike, the elliptical, incline walk on the treadmill and even jog (you aren’t going to shake the baby loose!), although I am getting very close to needing to double up on my sports bra… an alteration I will soon have to make when it comes to running and a problem that I am not used to having, but not something I am going to complain about one bit! #perksofpregnancy ;)

My cardio sessions range from 35-45 minutes, where I build in intervals ranging from 2-4 minutes alternating between a lower heart rate (100-120bpm) and a higher heart rate (using the “talk test”).

The intervals are strictly based on how I am feeling. If I need a break, I take it. If my breathing becomes restricted at all, I slow down.


Dr. Alleyne specifically suggested a focus on core exercises, which includes your lower back all the way up to your shoulders. With a shift in your center of gravity throughout pregnancy and extra loose joints and tendons, it is crucial to keep these areas strong and stable.

I am currently doing front and side planks, as well as exercises that target the smaller muscles in my back and shoulders for strength and stabilization.

With an increased level of exercise, Dr. Alleyne recommended an increased level of monitoring. I do a urine test 2x/week at home post-workouts to make sure that I am not losing any protein or glucose in my urine, nutrients that need to be going to our baby. Also, at my next ultrasound, I will have done what is called a biophysical screen, which will take a more detailed look at our baby to make sure he/she is 100% healthy.


Please remember that it is very important to consult with a health care professional before starting an exercise program!


35-45 minutes - 2-4min intervals w/ 1-2min rest in between

- Intervals should be performed with RPE between 12-14 & intensity should be at such a level that you can still talk!

- Can be performed on bike, elliptical, stairclimber, jogging, incline walking on treadmill, brisk walking, or whatever you preferred type of cardio


1) Plank Series - 3 x Front Plank, Side Planks & Glute Bridge 25-45seconds each w/ alternating leg lifts

2) Wall Slides - 3 x 6-10 reps

(A) Sit with you back against a wall, arms bent at the elbows at 90 degrees w/ your palms facing outwards

(B) Slide your arms up the wall as far as you can keeping your entire back against the wall and core stable

3) External Shoulder Rotations - 3 x 8-10 reps per side

(A) Lay on your side w/ your elbow bent at 90 degrees resting against your side

(B) Lift the weight so that you are externally rotating your shoulder

4) Single Arm – Single Leg Ball Toss on Bosu Ball - 3 x 8-10 reps per side

(A) Stand on one leg on a bosu ball & toss a small ball w/ opposite hand to a partner 

(B) Maintain balance and receive a return toss from your partner


From a nutrition perspective, I make sure that I eat before and within 30-60 minutes after a workout. Dr. Alleyne also asked that I take either a protein bar or a shake with me to the gym in case I get hungry and to make sure I am replenishing what I am expending immediately.

This may sound odd to some. Eating while you work out? You might ask: Well what’s the point then?

Point is that when we are exercising throughout our pregnancies, we are not exercising to lose weight or body fat, we are exercising to stay strong and prepare our bodies for the marathon that is giving birth!

Obviously eating healthy is extremely important during pregnancy to ensure that your baby is getting all of the vitamins and nutrients they need, but so is living a little!

Don’t get me wrong, I am following the weight gain guidelines that I was given (which is 25-35lbs for me), and I am not saying you should go crazy here and eat everything you crave and every thing in sight, but I believe that balance is important.

And then there’s that one word we are all well aware of in pregnancy…CRAVINGS!

They happen. Even when we are not pregnant, we crave things that are sweet or salty, and for the most part, I like to think I am good at sticking to a healthy diet and maintaining balance in what I eat. But isn’t part of the fun of being pregnant having that little bit of leniency? Having that ice cream cone you’re craving? Or indulging in an extra piece of bread at dinner?

The point is, don’t beat yourself up about pregnancy cravings!

Part of having a “fit” pregnancy is also ensuring that you are eating properly. When you are expending more calories, you need to eat more. And that is something I am especially conscious of with a little one on the way.

So while it’s important to exercise in pregnancy, it is even more important that we fuel out bodies properly, and of course, to live a little!

Cheers to that ice cream cone ☺

Please share your comments, stories and training or nutrition tips with me on Twitter and Instagram using @Mikkelson12 and #hockeymom.

Next week on Hockey Mom, I share some of my thoughts on the PERKS and TRUTHS of pregnancy!

For more information on Dr. Julia Alleyne, see her website http://drjulia.net/

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Pregnancy Week 18: Cardio, Core & CRAVINGS!!!