This is a question we hear often, and for good reason. Our pregnant clients know that exercise is important, but wonder if they are hitting the sweet spot between working out hard enough (ie, “I don’t want to waste my time—is this workout hard enough to count?”) and working out too hard (ie, “Am I working out so hard that it is bad for me or my baby?”).
This is an especially important question when working out alone. In one of our pregnancy fitness classes an instructor is there to monitor and adjust intensity levels so clients feel both safe and challenged, but it’s hard to do solo. This is made especially tricky because of the natural, normal fluctuations in heart rate during pregnancy so more traditional methods, like a heart rate monitor, are not as effective or accurate at measuring exercise intensity.
How do you know if you’re working out hard enough for it to be effective, but not so hard that you are in danger?
The Talk Test requires that if you are pregnant you should be able to talk during exercise- this means you aren’t working too hard. So this takes care of not overexerting during exercise- if you can talk, you know you are not exercising to a dangerous level. But what about working out hard enough?
Our friend Megan Frady Flatt at Bump Life has a great answer—you should be working out so hard that it would be difficult to sing! If you feel like you could comfortably sing, you probably need to increase your intensity.
Bottom line: Want to know if you are working out at the right level? You should be able to comfortably talk, but not sing. This little trick lets you know your heart rate is elevated, but still in a safe range.