Cycling Pregnant: Tips & Tricks

I started spin class in January in part as training for the May 3 Tour de Cure ride but also to give myself some cross-training focus. I added in a weekend outside ride when the weather started to allow it and with this routine have been riding on average two days a week all through pregnancy.

Around 18 weeks pregnant.

Around 18 weeks pregnant.

For the first trimester it was mostly fine and I was spinning/cycling as normal. I found outside riding a tad easier to “monitor” than spin class but I think the reason I go harder in spin class is because I love being pushed by the Rev instructor, Esther Collinetti. I asked Esther at one point what she’d recommend for spinning pregnant and much like my doctor suggested, she said to follow my own comfort level. Technically the doc said I should be able to hold a conversation and I know that in spin I go harder than that level but it’s for short bursts as much of the class is in a form of interval training. Esther’s other suggestion was to simply raise the handlebars a little as the belly gets bigger to make leaning forward more comfortable.

Increasing Mileage

20 weeks and riding strong.

20 weeks and riding strong (but with tight shorts).

I’ve been trying to ride between 15-20 miles outside in prep to ride 22 miles in hilly Howard County on May 3. For the most part, it’s been ok but as I’ve made my way to the 20+ week mark of pregnancy I’m noticing that any decent speed is definitely harder to maintain, aero position is comfortable and effective for about a whopping 20 seconds and I need to really stay hydrated.

Here are a few things I’ve learned to make spinning and cycling more manageable during pregnancy:

DON’T

  • Expect to maintain the same level of comfort or speed
  • Force into tight cycling gear if you don’t have to–I’m not sure yet how to deal with a growing belly and tight cycling shorts but it is definitely uncomfortable
  • Ride too far without enough hydration or snacks–I’ve found that by the end of a 20 mile ride I’ve gone through a full water bottle and am hungry; to ride further will require more fuel

DO

  • Keep doing what you’re doing–as frustrating as it may be, keep cycling, keep spinning, keep running
  • When riding outside: wear a helmet, ride with your cell phone, water, spare tubes, etc (all things you’d ideally normally do)
  • Work to maintain cadence; use your gears–speed may get slower but at least you can maintain turnover
  • Invest in clip-ins at least for your road bike (I still use the cages in spin class and one day might invest in spin clip-ins)
  • Take time to enjoy the ride!

    Take time to enjoy the ride!

    Focus on your form and breathing

  • Sing along or count with the instructor; it helps you know if you’re in “conversation mode” or pushing too hard
  • Raise your handlebars to accommodate for a growing belly (I have yet to try this on my road bike and plan on at least removing the aero bars so I can use the middle part of the handle bar in a more upright position)
  • Take the time to stretch properly post ride; hip flexors seem to get even tighter with pregnancy so compressing them in a riding position requires extra attention
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