A Guide to Pregnancy Workouts by Trimester

Finding the time and energy to fit in pregnancy or postpartum workouts can be tough! Join our Wellness Contributor, Megan, as she discusses fitness after baby. Megan will dive into all things related to pregnancy and postpartum fitness over the next few weeks, including: exercises to do while pregnant; exercises to do with baby; and all of your most commonly asked questions.


You may be interested in: Everything You Need To Know About Postpartum Fitness

When you find out you are pregnant, it is quite the exciting time! Many emotions, thoughts, and questions flood your head. There is so much to take in and do, whether it be your first pregnancy or last. As a Pregnancy and Postpartum Coach, it is my job to take the guesswork out of exercise during pregnancy, manage any symptoms that may come up, and protect your core and pelvic floor health while ensuring you are performing exercises correctly. Let's dive into considerations and sample workouts for each trimester.

As always, consult your OBGYN before starting a workout program and be aware these exercises may not be appropriate for you based on your medical history, current pregnancy, and recommendations. In addition, I highly suggest finding a Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coach in your area to support and guide your individual needs. If you experience any pain, pressure, bleeding, contractions, lightheadedness or dizziness, chest pain, or any symptom that is concerning, stop the workout immediately and consult your OBGYN.

Working Out in Your First Trimester

 You're pregnant! Congratulations! You may be experiencing exhaustion, morning sickness, increased urination, cravings/food aversions, or many other symptoms. With all of these symptoms, remind yourself that the gym will always be there and you have nothing to prove. Don't push yourself if you are feeling sick or exhausted. Rest as needed or change up your workout! If you were supposed to go on a run, attend a workout class instead- use this time to try something new. Go on a walk, try out prenatal yoga, go on a hike, or take a rest day. Your body is working hard right now so feel free to modify!

An ongoing theme for working out while pregnant is to think about the risk versus reward of every exercise that you intend to perform. Start adopting that mentality now! In this trimester, you want to limit max lifts and discontinue the use of a weight belt and activities that pose a high-risk for falling. If you are working out, increase rest time and reduce reps, rounds, and/or total workout time as needed during the workout.

First Trimester Sample Workout

3 rounds (rest as needed)

  • 10 deadlifts

  • 10 tricep extensions

  • 10 banded face pulls

  • 150 meter Farmer's walk

5 minute rest

5 rounds (rest as needed)

  • 20  kettlebell swings 

  • 15 med ball slams

  • 10 pull-ups or ring rows

  • 200 m run

Working Out in Your Second Trimester

Hopefully your symptoms start to subside during this trimester. You feel energized and the morning sickness has disappeared! You are feeling ready to get moving again. Take advantage of this time and if you feel up to it, get back to the workouts you love. However, realize this is a temporary chapter of your life and training should be different than it was pre-pregnancy.

Some symptoms you may be experiencing due to your growing baby are aches and pains throughout the pelvic region, back, hips, and breasts. As baby is growing, there is an increase in pressure in your abdomen and pelvic floor (hello heartburn!). Movements will begin to require modification to manage symptoms that may arise and protect your already vulnerable and stressed out core.

Start by modifying or eliminating gymnastics movements and high impact movements such as jump rope, box jumps, running, barbell Olympic movements and ab movements. You will want to discontinue any movements that require a breath hold or lying on your back. Lastly, you want to start doing movements that require you to be on your stomach (pushups for example) on an incline instead and you may have to adjust your positioning, such as a wider or narrower stance for certain exercises.

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Second Trimester Sample Workout

20 min AMRAP (as many rounds as possible)

  •  10 squats (with or without weight)

  • 15 bicep curls (with band or weight)

  • 1 minute on bike, rower, incline walk

  • 10 lunges (with or without weight)

  • 15 military press (with band or weight)

  • 10 hip thrusts (bodyweight or band)

Working Out in Your Third Trimester

You are almost to the end of your pregnancy! The goal of this trimester is to work out for enjoyment. Now is not the time to max out and go as hard as you can. Increase your rest time and decrease reps and weights. If for any reason you feel any new symptoms arise or if you are mentally unsure, stop the workout. Decrease or stop all overhead movements. Also, be aware that you may have to adjust your movements, meaning not squatting, lunging, or bending down as far you usually do.

As your baby approaches the 40-week mark, it is important to be aware of the increasing pressure and stress on your pelvic floor and core. Enjoy this time and respect the last few weeks and any of the changes that come along with it.

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Third Trimester Sample Workout

 21-15-9 of each movement

  • Squats (bodyweight or light weight, maybe to a box if needed)

  • Lateral raises (with band or weight)

  • Box step ups (bodyweight)

  • Bicep curls (with band or weight)

Once finished, walk, row, or bike to cool down for 5-10 minutes.

As you can see, there is a lot to take into consideration while working out during pregnancy to preserve your core and pelvic floor function so you can set yourself up for success postpartum. If you are someone who is reading this and still has questions regarding the workouts/movements or would like more guidance, feel free to reach out to me on the Momma Society group page or email me at megan@msfitnessaz.com

Make sure to check out Megan’s other post: Everything You Need To Know About Postpartum Fitness


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