Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kettlebells and Pregnancy

The following is a very interesting e-mail exchange that I received from RKC Rita Nemeth from Hungary regarding a Snatch Test video I posted a while back when I was 9 months pregnant.

Dear Yoana,

please excuse me for disturbing you. I am Rita Nemeth, RKC from Hungary.
With the highest respect I kindly ask you to disclose your position on the
issue kettlebell training during pregnancy somewhat more fixed on particular
details than on your blog, if you can find some minutes during these
beautyful days in your family.
The reason for my inquiry is that Peter Lakatos, chief RKC Hungary posted a
video on his blog on you doing your
snatch test in the 9th month of pregnancy. This generated ambivalent
reactions. Whereas kettlebell and pregnancy is a returning question at
Hungarian lady comrades, I thought it would be worth to collect the
positions and to try to come to a more or less generally acceptable point.
Having no personal experience on pregnancy, I read your blog and reverted to
Dr. Mark Cheng, who was my team leader at the RKC cert, and his wife, Dr.
Courtney Mizuhara-Cheng, RKC II. Doc Cheng was so kind to share their
experiences and opinion. He personally does not recommend VO2 and snatch
tests during pregnancy but he encouraged me to ask for your position
directly, too.
As I have written on my blog, I quite impressed
by your workouts and pretty sure you would have done no harm to your baby. I
think it would be invaluable to have your opinion on the issue.
Of course I know that these days you have much more important things to do -
I have full understanding and hereby send my congratulations - your daugther
is sweet!!!
However, should you find some minutes for this topic, please feel free to
comment on the issue on the blog or in e-mail at any time! In latter case I
will not alter any word, just translate it into Hungarian, as well!

Much fun and happiness with your baby!

Kindest regards,

Rita Nemeth, RKC

Hello Rita,

Thanks for the e-mail. Yes, the whole topic about training while pregnant is indeed a very interesting and widely debated topic. Here are my insights regarding your e-mail and your questions.

1) I do believe that every pregnancy must be treated differently as each women is bringing into her pregnancy a unique medical history and training background. Women must always get the approval from their doctor regarding exercise, ALWAYS.

In my case I had a lifetime of training experience and many years of high level kettlebell training underneath my belt. As you know I did train with kettlebells during my entire pregnancy, even up to the last two weeks. However, what people must know is that prior to getting pregnant I was regularly exposing my body to kettlebell movements with the 20kg and 24kg KB. So for me to perform a KB snatch test with a 12kg KB (even though I was pregnant) was a walk in the park for me.

I used a 12kg KB during my pregnancy so the question one must ask is; was my pregnancy training EXTREME? The obvious answer is NO, it was not extreme. My body was used to such a heavier bell that I felt I was not compromising the health of my baby by continuing to perform the basic KB movements with a lighter bell. My Doctor (who knows very well how I compete and what I do) gave me a very positive recommendation to continue to lift and train, although with less weight and with less intensity. But my Doctor was always encouraging me to continue.

2)I also agree that women shouldn't do crazy vo2 max work or try to set new PR's while pregnant. The objective MUST and should always be the health of the baby. If a women who has little to no prior training experience before her pregnancy should not start an intense KB (or any other type of exercise program for that matter)during her pregnancy. That is just too dangerous and irresponsible. But if the women does have a training history and assuming that the pregnancy is going well (& assuming that the doctor has given her the green light to train), I see no reason why that women should not continue to train and keep herself healthy. Afterall, if the mom is healthy, then the baby will have a better chance at being healhty as well.

3) I have experienced how awesome it is to go into your pregnancy strong and fit and how training while pregnant makes the delivery process so much better. What I mean is that a better conditioned female will more times than not have a better birthing experience than the deconditioned women who has no muscle tone and less mental toughness. There are just too many benefits from taking an intelligent approach to strenght trianing.

4) Exercising while pregnant also helps you recover better after the birth of your child. It also assists you in choosing better nutrition methods that lead to a healthy mother and baby.

I hope my pregnancy journey will be able to help others. In our up coming Kettlebell DVD we have a section where we interwied my doctor regarding this topic.


Yoana.... and Marianna :)


Denis Kanygin said...

Hi Yoana,

Great post! Kettlebells and pregnancy go well together. One of my clients got pregnant and we kept on training with KBs.

Delivery was easy as she had strong core muscles. I would encourage pregnant women to use kettlebells. That said, it is important to listen to your body.

thank you for sharing it,

Denis Kanygin

Rita Nemeth, said...

Dear Yoana,
Thank you very much for your kind and detailed response! I think it is a great help for many KB-ladies! Your training record prior and during the pregnancy is an especially great support. I was sure your condition is superior to that of most human beings :-) - and with these data everyone can calculate her own proportions. However, I completely agree with you that consulting the doctor and an RKC is essential!
I will translate and publish your comment on my Hungarian blog.
Thank you again 1000times and wish you many-many happy hours with Marianna!

Kindest regards,

Rita Nemeth

Yoana said...

Hey Denis,

Thanks for checking in on my blog. Glad you enjoyed the post and found it worthwhile!



Yoana said...


Thank you very much for helping spread the word on such an important topic. We have a cool bonus on our upcoming DVD where we interview my Doctor regarding this very subject.

Keep in touch!

Blessings to you!


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FirstTimeMommy said...

Hi Yoana,

I just recently found out I'm pregnant (5 weeks along). I was doing KBs for two years, but haven't been back to the gym in 1month.

I miss the routine, the great feeling afterwards, because my body has become so accustom to it. Of course, I'm going to see if my OBGYN clears me for going back.

If he does I wanted your opinion, for strength training I was using a 16KB. I know you were training with 20-24KB and went down to a 12KB. To bring the impact down I was just considering using an 8KB, and was wondering your opinion on this.

Thank you for sharing.


Yoana Teran Snideman said...


First at all... Congratulation!!!!!

Regarding exercise and pregnancy.... Assuming that the pregnancy has no complications there are no reasons why we cannot continue to workout during pregnancy.

Why did you stop?

The majority of healthy woman with a normal and uncomplicated pregnancy should exercise approximately 30 minutes a day 5 to 6 days a week. You should modify the training as you progress through your pregnancy. You must listen to our body and use common sense. The body will naturally give us signals that it is time to reduce the level of exercise. if you feel ok and confident using 8kg well you should use that weight.

I am coming with a Pregnancy Manual. It is an informational manual designed to guide, encourage and teach pregnant women how to stay fit and healthy while pregnant. It has step by step how I worked out during my whole pregnancy. I wish it were already published because it has a lot information about this topic but I still need a couple more months to be done! ;)

Congratulations again!!!


Sara said...

Hi Yoanna,

I am beyond excited to have found your blog! I have only been training with Kettlebells for roughly 6 months, but I am already head over heels with it. I also found out I am expecting again :) When I talked to my OB about my Kettlebell routine, she suggested I modify, if not stop altogether. I am not high risk. I exercise regularly and in addition to my Kettlebell workout, I am a Zumba Fitness Instructor teaching 7 classes a week.
I was not happy with that suggestion, and my searches have lead me to you. I am definitely going to bring this information to my OB and plan to only modify, not stop my Kettlebell training. I look forward to reading your blog :)

Best Wishes,
Sara Mandeville

workout mommy said...

hi Yoana,

I too am so glad i found your blog! I've been training with kettlebells for about 7 months now and just completed and passed the HKC this weekend. I'm now 13 weeks pregnant and was wondering how much longer I can continue and what moves are considered safe? I would absolutely love to review your manual or possibly interview you for my blog, Thank you for being an inspiration to us all! :)


angel said...

Just wondering if you have a kettlebells pregnancy dvd?

Anonymous said...

Angel, Thank you for checking the blog. I don't have a Kettlebell Pregnancy DVD. However I have Kettlebell Mommy book. For more information visit
Yoana Teran