Weightlifting and pregnancy – an Interview with Julia Schwarzbach

Julia Schwarzbach is the most successful German Weightlifting athlete and looks back at a great career with multiple medals from European championships,
different national records, so as two participation at the Olympic Games, in Peking 2008 and in London 2012, competing in her weight class -53kg.

And even after she finished her professional career, weightlifting plays still a major role in her life.
She is going to tell us how the barbell accompanied her while she was pregnant and even supported her after giving birth to her first child.

Isa: Hey Julia you were seen frequently training, even with your baby bump. When the people hear about weightlifting in combination with pregnancy, they have a lot of skepticism.
How did you train and what impact had your training on your pregnancy?

Julia: I already terminated my professional career before I got pregnant, and didn’t train on the same level as I did as a professional.
Weightlifting is a way to relax and have a balance to my everyday routine.
Till maternity leave, I worked full time in an office, and training was my compensation to the regular stress.
Sport while being pregnant was to increase my well being in first place. Just relax on the couch like a potato was no option, I wanted to do something healthy for me and my body.
One hour training gave me the chance to make my mind free from all the things I still had to do.
After I got to know about my pregnancy, I had to change my training schedule quite a bit.
Straight from the beginning I erased the competition exercises, snatch and clean and jerk, from my training plan and exchanged them with Pulls and squats.
As every weightlifter knows „You can’t go wrong with pulls and squats. Till the 30th week of my pregnancy, I trained twice a week weightlifting or better said strength training.
When the baby bump got too big for regular pulls, starting of the ground, I had to switch to power pulls from the hang, simply because it felt more comfortable.
The regular squat is known as the best and most easy exercise to improve the strength of your pelvic floor.
I didn’t train my abdominals in the time of my pregnancy, just because it was really uncomfortable. I would give an unlimited recommendation to train your back while being pregnant,
the center of gravity changes and the back has to balance it all out.
The back extensor muscle is really important, so „Good Mornings“ with a barbel and back extensions at the strength machines were a great exercise for me.
Of course, there are plenty of other exercises which give you stability, no need for difficult or exotic variations.
Even without a lot of equipment you have a lot of options, so as a plank hold per example, this is a great choice and maybe even the better alternative.

Isa: Your child is there for a while already and you even took part in a competition for your club, your weight is the same as before the pregnancy.
Had the training an impact on the birth of your son and how did you start to train again after it? And most important how was the training related to the loss of your pregnancy weight?

Julia: I didn’t had to take any postnatal exercise classes, what is definitely related to my frequent training before and while being pregnant.
And since you’re not supposed to start with sport till 6-8 weeks after giving birth, I started again after 10 weeks. In the beginning, I avoided to train my abdominal muscles and
started as well slow with the rest of my regular training exercises.
Basically it went pretty fast with losing all the additional weight from my pregnancy. Well, I gained a little weight, what is just natural,
but I didn’t eat for two or really unhealthy. The child gets what it needs as long as you continue to eat healthily and include all the important indigents in your nutrition.
At the end of the day nutrition is always a question of your discipline. When breastfeeding I didn’t really lost any weight and I started my full training just after it.
I can only recommend continuing to train when you’re pregnant and not to just stop. Weightlifting is not a hazard to the child or the mother,
more has it a positive impact on both and their well being. You should definitely not exaggerate you training and listen to your body to only perform an exercise
which feels good for you and your body. Most important is that as a becoming mother you take some time for yourself and therefore, training gives you a great opportunity.






Crossfit and weightlifting athlete