Labor Interval Training

What is Labor Interval Training?

Labor Interval Training  is a sports-specific method to prepare you for the physiological and mental-emotional challenges of labor. By alternating exercise and rest intervals that progressively increase in intensity and decrease in rest time, you can prepare for how uterine contractions will affect you. With physical practice, when labor finally arrives, you will be in as familiar a place as possible.

What is the benefit of Labor Interval Training?

On the deepest levels, you will be shaking up your molecules and cells, forcing them to learn how to efficiently transport nutrients while quickly shunting wastes and lactic acids away. Your respiratory system will learn how to rapidly exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen in your capillaries and the little sacs of your lungs. Your endocrine glands and brain will learn to create and release certain hormones more proficiently. And your mind will learn the patience and focus to let it all happen as peacefully as possible.

It is similar to HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) in that you perform a series of work intervals with rest periods in between. However, there are two key differences:

  1. Work-to-Rest ratios are designed to mimic the pattern of contractions: In most interval training formats, the higher the intensity of the work period, the shorter that work period is. For example, the movement you would do for a 20-second Tabata interval would likely be much more intense than a movement done for a full 45-60 sec. However, we know that in labor, contractions get longer and more intense as they progress, so that’s how we structure LIT intervals.
  2. Rest intervals involve deliberate labor practices: Unlike HIIT, the rest periods are equally as important as the work intervals. The rest periods of LIT™ focus on specific energy management strategies to quickly shift your physical and mental state towards one that will help you better cope with the stresses of late Stage 1 contractions.

How does Labor Interval Training Work?

The initial step is to determine the duration of your work and rest intervals, as well as the number of rounds you will complete. The table provided below offers general interval recommendations (which you can adjust according to your preferences). The left-hand side indicates shorter or moderate-intensity work intervals and longer rest periods. As you move towards the right, the work intervals become longer and more strenuous, while the rest periods become shorter (to mimic the pattern of contractions). Start on the far left and gradually advance to the right as you become stronger. It’s perfectly acceptable if you never reach the far right.

Once you’ve established your intervals, the next step is to choose your movements for the work intervals and positions for the rest intervals.

WORK INTERVALS    30 sec   45 sec   45 sec    60 sec

REST INTERVALS      60 sec.  60 sec.  45 sec.  45 sec.

INTENSITY               Moderate. Moderate. High High

ROUNDS                           5              4                4            3

How to select Exercises for Labor Interval Training?

The exercises you select for your work intervals must challenge your cardio-respiratory system while considering the physical and physiological transformations of the third trimester body. Below are some examples of movements that fulfill these requirements. It’s important to keep in mind that each person is different. Therefore, what one individual perceives as “moderate intensity” may be regarded as “high intensity” by another. Consequently, select a movement that feels secure while also increasing your heart rate. You can opt to perform just one exercise for each interval or alternate between two.

We recommend these exercises:

  1. Knee repeaters. You can switch sides on your second round.  See a video here. 
  2. Lunge and a Front Kick. You can switch sides on your second round.  See a video here. 
  3. Low jacks. See video here. 
  4. Diagonal Squat and Side Kick. You can switch sides on your second round.  See a video here.

How to choose rest intervals for Labor Interval Training?

It’s crucial to remember that the purposeful rest intervals distinguish LIT from HIIT. Rest is actually the most significant component of LIT. Ultimately, choose a labor position during your rest periods. Here are a few possibilities. Finally, as soon as your work interval is finished, quickly get into your labor position and start your TVA Breathing. The objective is to teach your body to optimize your recovery period to prepare for the next work round.

  1. Child pose and its variations. 


2. Deep Squat 


3. Side lying or staying on all fours


If you would like to learn more about Labor Interval Training – book your free consultation with one of our prenatal personal training specialists here.

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