The Best Pregnancy Workouts for Every Trimester

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Staying active during pregnancy is important for both the mother’s health and the baby’s development. But it’s crucial to choose exercises that are safe and appropriate for each trimester. In this article, fitness expert Katrina Scott, co-founder of Tone It Up, shares trimester-specific exercises that can support strength and overall health throughout pregnancy.

Before starting any new exercise routine, it’s essential to consult with your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you and your baby. Listen to your body and make modifications as needed. Now, let’s dive into the best pregnancy workouts for every trimester.

Key Takeaways:

  • Choosing safe and appropriate pregnancy workouts is essential for the health of both the mother and the baby.
  • Consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, and listen to your body throughout each trimester.
  • Trimester-specific exercises can help support strength, overall health, and prepare the body for childbirth and postpartum recovery.
  • Stay active during pregnancy with exercises that are suitable for your changing body and energy levels.
  • By following pregnancy exercise guidelines and making modifications as needed, you can experience the benefits of staying active while pregnant.

First Trimester Exercises for a Total Body Pregnancy Workout

In the first trimester of pregnancy, it is common for energy levels to be low. However, staying active during this time is still important for both your physical and mental well-being. Quick and energizing strength routines that engage your entire body are ideal for this trimester.

Here are some recommended exercises to incorporate into your first trimester workout routine:

  • Squat and Press: This exercise targets your lower body and arms. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells at your shoulders. Perform a squat, then as you stand back up, press the dumbbells overhead.
  • Reverse Lunge and Curl: This exercise works your lower body and biceps. Begin by stepping backward into a lunge position while holding dumbbells. As you lunge, curl the dumbbells towards your shoulders.
  • Single Arm Row and Tricep Kickback: This exercise targets your back and triceps. Place one hand and knee on a bench or stable surface, holding a dumbbell in the opposite hand. Row the dumbbell towards your ribcage, then extend your arm back, performing a tricep kickback.
  • Bird Dog: This exercise strengthens your core and back. Start on all fours, extending your right arm forward while simultaneously extending your left leg backward. Alternate sides.
  • Side Plank Crunch: This exercise engages your obliques and core. Begin in a side plank position, resting on your forearm. Pull your top knee towards your elbow, contracting your side waist. Repeat on the opposite side.

Remember to listen to your body and modify exercises as needed. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop and consult with your healthcare provider. Take breaks as necessary and stay hydrated throughout your workout.

Staying active during the first trimester can help maintain muscle tone, improve circulation, and boost energy levels. It is important to prioritize your health and well-being during this exciting time. Incorporating these total body exercises into your routine can help you stay fit and strong throughout your pregnancy journey.

Second Trimester Exercises for an Upper Body Pregnancy Workout

During the second trimester of pregnancy, it’s important to focus on strengthening your upper body and improving postural strength. These exercises will help you maintain good posture as your body changes and grows.

1. Curl and Press

The curl and press exercise targets your biceps, shoulders, and upper back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands. Bend your elbows and curl the weights towards your shoulders. Once your forearms are vertical, press the weights overhead. Lower the weights back down to your shoulders and repeat.

2. Bent Over Fly

The bent over fly exercise targets your upper back muscles and improves your posture. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands. Bend forward from your hips, keeping your back straight. With a slight bend in your elbows, raise your arms out to the sides, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower the weights back down and repeat.

3. Single Arm Row

The single arm row exercise targets your back muscles and helps improve posture. Start by kneeling on a bench, placing your left hand on the bench for support. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing inward. Pull the dumbbell up towards your hip, keeping your elbow close to your body. Lower the weight back down and repeat on the other side.

4. Alternating Forward Raise

The alternating forward raise exercise targets your shoulders and improves the strength of your upper body. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands. Raise one arm straight out in front of you, stopping when it’s shoulder height. Lower the arm back down and repeat on the other side.

5. Tricep Push-Up

The tricep push-up exercise targets your triceps and chest muscles. Start in a push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your legs extended behind you. Lower your chest towards the floor, bending your elbows close to your body. Push back up to the starting position and repeat.

Exercise Targeted Muscle
Curl and Press Biceps, Shoulders, Upper Back
Bent Over Fly Upper Back, Postural Muscles
Single Arm Row Back, Postural Muscles
Alternating Forward Raise Shoulders
Tricep Push-Up Triceps, Chest

Remember to listen to your body and modify or stop any exercise that causes discomfort. It’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine during pregnancy.

Second trimester upper body exercises

Third Trimester Exercises for a Lower Body Pregnancy Workout

As you enter the third trimester of your pregnancy, maintaining a strong lower body becomes even more important. Not only does it support your daily activities, but it also plays a crucial role during delivery. Incorporating lower body exercises into your workout routine can help you build endurance, improve balance, and strengthen your butt and legs.

Recommended Exercises:

Here are some safe and effective lower body exercises that you can include in your third trimester workout:

  1. Plié Squat and Pulse: Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes turned out slightly. Lower your body into a squat position. Pulse up and down a few inches, engaging your glutes and thighs. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
  2. Single-Leg Deadlift: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight onto your right leg, slightly bending the knee. Hinge forward at the hips, extending your left leg straight behind you and reaching your hands towards the floor. Keep your back straight and engage your glutes and hamstrings. Return to the starting position and switch legs. Do 10-12 reps on each leg.
  3. Side Lunge: Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Take a wide step to the side with your right foot, bending the right knee and keeping the left leg straight. Push through your right heel to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Aim for 10-12 reps on each leg.
  4. Tabletop Booty Lift: Get on all fours with your knees directly under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Engage your core and lift your right leg behind you, keeping it bent at a 90-degree angle. Squeeze your glutes and lift your leg until it is parallel to the floor. Lower it back down and repeat with the left leg. Do 10-12 reps on each leg.
  5. Side Plank and Leg Lift: Start in a side plank position, with your right hand directly under your shoulder and your body in a straight line. Flex your left foot and lift your left leg, focusing on engaging your outer hip and core. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your leg back down. Switch sides and repeat. Aim for 8-10 reps on each side.

Remember to listen to your body and modify the exercises as needed. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop immediately and consult with your healthcare provider.

Continue to challenge yourself while staying safe during your third trimester workouts. These lower body exercises can help you maintain strength, support your body, and prepare you for the journey ahead. Don’t forget to warm up before each workout and cool down afterward. Enjoy the benefits of a strong lower body during pregnancy and beyond!

Do’s and Don’ts of Pregnancy Workouts

Exercise during pregnancy can bring numerous benefits, both for the mother’s physical and mental well-being. However, it’s essential to follow certain guidelines to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby. Here are some important do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when engaging in pregnancy workouts:

Do: Get clearance from your doctor

Before starting any new exercise program during pregnancy, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider. They will evaluate your individual circumstances and provide specific recommendations based on your health history and any potential risks. Your doctor’s approval will give you peace of mind and help you make informed decisions regarding your exercise routine.

Do: Listen to your body

Pregnancy is a unique and transformative experience, and every woman’s body reacts differently. Pay attention to any physical discomfort, pain, or fatigue during exercise. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s essential to modify or stop the activity. Your body knows best, and it’s crucial to honor its signals and prioritize your well-being.

Don’t: Engage in high-impact or contact sports

During pregnancy, it is recommended to avoid high-impact activities and contact sports that pose a higher risk of falls, collisions, or abdominal trauma. These activities may increase the chances of injury to you and your baby. Instead, focus on exercises that are low-impact, gentle, and provide adequate support to your changing body.

Don’t: Perform exercises that can cause trauma or excessive strain

Some exercises, particularly those that involve heavy lifting, sudden movements, or excessive strain on the abdominal muscles, should be avoided during pregnancy. These movements can put unnecessary stress on your body and potentially harm the developing baby. It’s important to prioritize safe and effective exercises that promote strength, flexibility, and overall well-being.

Remember, pregnancy is not the time to push yourself to extreme levels of fitness or try new, high-intensity workouts. Your primary focus should be on maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle while providing a nurturing environment for your baby’s growth and development.

Safe exercises during pregnancy

By following these guidelines, you can safely enjoy the benefits of exercise during pregnancy and support your overall well-being. Always consult with your doctor, listen to your body, and prioritize exercises that are safe and appropriate for each stage of your pregnancy journey.

Best Maternity Workout Clothes for Comfort and Support

Finding comfortable and supportive maternity workout clothing is essential for a pleasant exercise experience during pregnancy. When choosing maternity activewear, prioritize breathable fabrics that allow for unrestricted movement while keeping you cool and comfortable. Look for options with adjustable waistbands that can accommodate your growing belly throughout each trimester.

Supportive bras are crucial for maintaining proper breast support and reducing discomfort during physical activity. Opt for sports bras designed specifically for pregnancy, which offer adequate support while minimizing bounce.

Here are some essential maternity workout items to consider:

  1. Maternity Leggings: These stretchy and supportive leggings provide comfort and flexibility during your pregnancy workout routine. Look for options with a high-rise waistband that covers and supports your growing belly.
  2. Tank Tops: Opt for breathable tank tops with built-in support to provide comfort and flexibility during your pregnancy workout routine. Look for options with a high-rise waistband that covers and supports your growing belly.
  3. Sports Bras: Invest in sports bras designed specifically for pregnant women, offering the necessary support and accommodating changes in breast size. Look for wide, adjustable straps and removable pads for added comfort.
  4. Supportive Shoes: Choose comfortable and supportive athletic shoes that provide cushioning and stability. Look for footwear specifically designed for pregnant women, considering factors such as arch support, shock absorption, and breathability.

Remember, prioritizing comfort and support in your maternity workout attire will help you stay motivated and enjoy your pregnancy exercises to the fullest.

Expert Tip:

“Choosing maternity activewear that fits well and provides support is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable workout during pregnancy.” – Dr. Jennifer Smith, OB-GYN

Maternity Workout Clothing Options Features
Maternity Leggings
  • Stretchy and supportive
  • High-rise waistband for belly coverage
Tank Tops
  • Breathable and flexible
  • Built-in support for added comfort
Sports Bras
  • Designed for pregnancy
  • Wide, adjustable straps
  • Removable pads for customization
Supportive Shoes
  • Cushioning and stability
  • Pregnancy-specific design
  • Arch support and shock absorption
  • Breathable materials

10 Pregnancy Myths Busted

Pregnancy is a time of joy and anticipation, but it’s also a time when many myths and misconceptions arise. This is especially true when it comes to exercise during pregnancy. It’s important to separate fact from fiction and debunk the common pregnancy exercise myths.

Myth: You should not exercise during pregnancy.

Fact: Exercise is generally safe and beneficial during pregnancy, as long as you have clearance from your healthcare provider. Regular exercise can promote better sleep, reduce pregnancy discomfort, improve mood, and prepare your body for childbirth and postpartum recovery.

Myth: Exercise can harm the baby.

Fact: Exercise, when done safely, does not harm the baby. In fact, it can have numerous benefits for both the mother and the developing fetus. It’s important to listen to your body, avoid activities with a high risk of falls or trauma, and stay within your comfort zone.

Myth: Pregnant women should avoid specific exercises.

Fact: While certain high-impact or contact sports are not recommended during pregnancy, there are still plenty of safe and effective exercises you can do. Activities like walking, swimming, prenatal yoga, and modified strength training can help maintain fitness and support overall health.

Myth: Exercise leads to preterm labor.

Fact: There is no evidence to suggest that exercise leads to preterm labor. In fact, regular exercise may even reduce the risk of preterm birth. However, if you have a high-risk pregnancy or specific medical conditions, your healthcare provider may provide guidance on exercise limitations.

Myth: All abdominal exercises are unsafe during pregnancy.

Fact: While some traditional abdominal exercises like crunches and sit-ups may be challenging or uncomfortable during pregnancy, there are still safe alternatives. Exercises that focus on core strength and stability, such as pelvic tilts and planks, can be beneficial and help alleviate back pain.

Myth: Pregnant women should not lift weights.

Fact: Strength training, when performed with proper technique and appropriate weight, can be safe and beneficial during pregnancy. It can help maintain muscle tone, improve posture, and prepare the body for the physical demands of motherhood. However, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider and work with a qualified prenatal fitness professional.

Myth: Exercise causes overheating and is dangerous for the baby.

Fact: While it’s important to avoid overheating during exercise, it does not mean you can’t be active. Stay hydrated, choose appropriate workout attire, and avoid exercising in hot and humid environments. Opt for indoor activities or workout during cooler times of the day to minimize the risk of overheating.

Myth: Exercise can cause miscarriage.

Fact: Miscarriages are most often caused by genetic or chromosomal abnormalities, not by exercise. If you have a healthy pregnancy, exercise is generally considered safe. However, if you have a history of miscarriage or other pregnancy complications, it’s crucial to discuss exercise plans with your healthcare provider.

Myth: Pregnancy is a time to rest and avoid physical activity.

Fact: While rest is important during pregnancy, it does not mean you should avoid all physical activity. In fact, regular exercise can help alleviate common pregnancy discomforts, such as back pain and swelling. Staying active can also improve your overall well-being and strengthen your body for labor and delivery.

Myth: Exercise causes the baby to become tangled in the umbilical cord.

Fact: The umbilical cord has a protective gelatin-like substance that prevents tangling. Exercise does not cause the baby to become tangled in the umbilical cord. However, it’s essential to choose low-impact activities and avoid high-risk activities to maintain your safety and the baby’s well-being.

By debunking these pregnancy exercise myths, we aim to empower pregnant women to make informed decisions about staying active and exercising safely during pregnancy. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider, listen to your body, and make modifications as needed to ensure a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy journey.


Summary of pregnancy workouts, importance of safe exercise during pregnancy, and the benefits of prenatal exercise:

Staying active during pregnancy is essential for the overall health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. Engaging in safe and tailored exercise routines can offer numerous benefits throughout the pregnancy journey. Regular physical activity during pregnancy has been shown to reduce pregnancy-related discomfort, improve mood and sleep, and enhance overall fitness.

By consulting with your doctor and following pregnancy exercise guidelines, you can ensure that your workout regimen is safe and suitable for your specific needs. Prioritizing safe exercise during pregnancy can help you maintain a healthy weight, manage gestational diabetes, improve posture and strength, and reduce the risk of complications.

Furthermore, prenatal exercise can play a crucial role in preparing the body for childbirth and postpartum recovery. Strengthening the muscles used during labor and delivery can assist in the birthing process, while improved postural strength can alleviate common discomforts such as back pain. Additionally, staying active during pregnancy can contribute to faster recovery and improved well-being postpartum.


What are some safe exercises for the first trimester?

Recommended exercises for the first trimester include squat and press, reverse lunge and curl, single arm row and tricep kickback, bird dog, and side plank crunch.

What exercises are best for the second trimester?

During the second trimester, focusing on strengthening postural muscles is important. Recommended exercises include curl and press, bent over fly, single arm row, alternating forward raise, and tricep push-up.

What exercises should I do during the third trimester?

In the third trimester, it’s important to focus on a strong lower body for delivery. Recommended exercises include plié squat and pulse, single-leg deadlift, side lunge, tabletop booty lift, and side plank and leg lift.

Is exercise safe during pregnancy?

Exercise is generally safe and beneficial during pregnancy, but it’s important to consult with your doctor and follow pregnancy exercise guidelines.

What exercises should I avoid during pregnancy?

It’s best to avoid high-impact or contact sports, as well as exercises that can cause trauma or excessive strain.

What should I look for in maternity workout clothing?

Look for breathable fabrics, adjustable waistbands, supportive bras, and comfortable fit. Options include maternity leggings, tank tops, sports bras, and supportive shoes.

What are some common myths about exercise during pregnancy?

Some common myths include the belief that exercise should be completely avoided during pregnancy and restrictions on specific exercises. However, exercise is generally safe and can be beneficial for pregnant women.

Why is exercise important during pregnancy?

Staying active during pregnancy with safe and tailored exercise routines can support overall health, reduce pregnancy-related discomfort, and prepare the body for childbirth and postpartum recovery.