The 12 best pregnancy safe exercises for first, second and third trimesters! This no equipment, full body prenatal workout offers options to scale each exercise up or down as your pregnancy progresses.
In general, YES. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says most pregnant women can continue regular exercise during pregnancy. In fact, there are many benefits to physical activity during pregnancy, including reduced aches and pains, better sleep quality and reduced risk of complications like gestational diabetes.
What Are Safe Pregnancy Exercises?
Most physical activities you were doing pre-pregnancy are safe to continue into your pregnancy. Some examples of safe pregnancy exercises include: 1) Strength training and weight training 2) Walking and running 3) Prenatal yoga and pilates 4) Stationary bike or cycling 5) Swimming and water aerobics Of course, every body (and every pregnancy) is different. Before you begin an exercise routine, you should consult your doctor, midwife or health care professional.
What Exercises Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?
In general, it’s best to avoid: 1) Bearing down (movements or exercise that place extreme pressure on your abdominal wall and pelvic floor). 2) Any ab exercises that cause coning/doming of the core muscles, especially if you have existing diastasis recti (abdominal separation often referred to as “DR”). 3) High impact/contact sports, or sports with high risk of falling (downhill skiing, ice hockey, basketball, horseback riding, etc.) 4) Lying on your stomach/belly down postures.
Stay active and strong through each trimester of pregnancy with this safe and effective full body prenatal workout.
These 12 safe prenatal exercises combine bodyweight strength training with low impact cardio (kind of joints). Do this prenatal workout at home or in the gym; no equipment needed.
Move at your pace to complete as many reps as possible, with good form, during the 30 second work periods. As always, listen to your body.
This at-home pregnancy workout is perfect for the first trimester, second trimester AND third trimester. A great way to prepare for labor and delivery.
No equipment, bodyweight only.
Option to add a bench, box or chair to reduce abdominal pressure during planks and push ups as your pregnancy progresses. This can also help with balance as your center of gravity shifts with a growing baby bump.
Lower down into a squat position, lowering your hips down parallel with your knees. Drive your knees out toward your outer three toes.
At the bottom of your squat, pulse by rising up an inch, then lowering down an inch and repeating for a two-count pulse.
Drive through your heels to stand tall, squeezing your glutes.
As you stand, perform a calf raise by lifting your heels off the ground.
Swing Air Squats
Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, arms and core.
Adding an arm swing increases the cardio endurance; the bigger the arm swing the higher your heart rate will climb.
How To Do Swing Squats
Start in an athletic position, feet just outside of hips, toes pointing forward or slightly out, slight bend in your knees.
Sit your hips back, lowering down into a squat, sweeping your arms back behind your hips as you sit back.
Then, explosively drive through your legs to stand up as you swing your arms overhead.
As you stand, you have the option to add a calf raise; lifting your heels off the ground as you fully extend your hips and arms.
Modification: Perform standard air squats and omit the arm swing.
Incline Push Up and Shoulder Tap
Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abs, obliques and core muscles.
How To Do An Incline Push Up And Shoulder Tap
Stand in front of your bench (or counter, or wall). The higher the surface, the easier the push up will be.
Plant your hands on the bench and step back into a high plank position. Shoulders are stacked over wrists, weight evenly distributed between all fingers.
Hold this incline plank position, maintaining a straight line with your body, as you slowly lower your chest towards the bench.
Lead with your chest, elbows fall about 6 inches away from your body (not out to the sides).
Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into high plank position.
Then, bring your right hand to tap your left shoulder, performing a shoulder tap.
Complete another push up and then alternate your shoulder tap, bringing left hand to meet your right shoulder.
Box Step Up and Knee Drive
Targets: Legs, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and core.
How To Do Box Step Up And Knee Drive
Stand in front of your box or bench, feet under shoulders and core engaged.
Step your right foot on to your bench and squeeze your right glute as you step up, driving your left knee up as you stand.
Return your left foot to the mat, then bring your right foot down, returning to starting position.
Then, alternate, stepping on to the bench with your left foot and driving your right knee up as you stand.
Modification: Perform alternating reverse lunges and knee drives.
Staggered Single Leg Squat To Box
Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, hamstrings, hips and core.
How To Do A Staggered Single Leg Squat
Stand with feet hip-width apart, feet staggered so your right leg is slightly in front of your left foot.
Kickstand your front right foot, lifting your right toes off the mat.
Keep 80% of your weight in your left foot, and 20% of your weight in the heel of your front right foot. As if you were performing a single leg squat on the left leg, just using the right leg for balance support.
Maintain a staggered stance as you lower your hips down, sitting back into a squat.
Push through the heel of your left foot to return to standing. Think of it as performing a single leg squat on your left leg.
Modification: Perform a squat to bench or box, tapping your butt on the chair, bench or box.
Targets: The back of your arm, specifically the triceps.
How To Do Tricep Dips
Grip the edge of a chair or bench, fingertips pointed toward your butt or toes, elbows bent. Note, you can also perform tricep dips sitting on the ground with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your hands behind you (fingertips facing your butt).
Keeping your back close to the chair, lower yourself, bending at the elbows until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle.
Press through your palms, using your triceps to push you back up to starting position.
Sumo Squat and Lat Pull Down
Targets: Legs, outer glutes, inner thighs, hamstrings, hips, arms, shoulders, back (lats) and core.
How To A Sumo Squat And Lat Pull Down
Start in a wide stance, feet outside of hips, heels in and toes pointed out (sumo squat stance). Extend both arms overhead.
Bend your knees to lower down into a sumo squat, pushing your knees out towards your outer three toes as you drop your hips parallel to your knees.
As you lower, pull your elbows wide and down (goal-posting your arms). Think about creating tension with your own body to engage your back muscles.
Pause for a moment at the bottom of your sumo squat, then drive through your heels, squeezing your glutes and inner thighs to return to standing as you push your arms overhead.
Lateral Squat Step and 2 Jabs
Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, hamstrings, arms, back, biceps and core.
How To Do A Lateral Squat Step And 2 Jabs
Start in an athletic position, feet just outside of hips, toes pointing forward or slightly out, slight bend in your knees. Hands are at a defensive position, guarding your face.
Take a wide step out to your right, sitting your hips back and performing a lateral squat as you shift towards your right foot.
Pull your left foot in and stand tall, feet under hips.
Once standing, perform two jabs, punching in front of your face with each hand before returning your fists to guard your face.
Then, step out wide with your left leg, performing another lateral squat towards the left.
Again, stand tall and bring your right foot in to meet your left and perform two more jabs from a standing position.
Targets: Legs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, hips, calves and core.
lululemon makes quality apparel designed to last – through all seasons of life.
Today’s workout features some of my favorite lululemon staples that I’ve been wearing throughout my pregnancy AND will continue to wear postpartum and beyond.
And lululemon just launched the blissfeel Women’s Running Shoe. As mentioned above, walking is one of the best pregnancy safe exercises you can do; and this is the perfect power-walking and running shoe.
Lindsey’s Outfit With Size And Fit Notes:
lululemon Align Leggings. Wearing a size 6 for pregnancy (I typically wear a size 4 in the Align Leggings). The Align Leggings are my absolute favorite everyday-wear legging when I’m not pregnant, but they become my favorite workout leggings during pregnancy. The stretchy waistband can be worn above or below the baby bump.
lululemon Ebb to Street Tank. Wearing a size 8 for pregnancy (I typically wear a size 6 in lululemon shirts and tanks). This tank has seamless support-to-stretch balance. It has a built in bra which I love too!
lululemon Wunder Train Leggings. Wearing a size 6 (her typical size). These are our team favorite training leggings for high intensity workouts. They are soft like the Align Leggings, but offer more compression and a stay-put waistband for higher intensity workouts.
lululemon Power Pivot Tank. Wearing a size 6 (her typical size). We love that this tank can be flipped to be worn as a v-neck OR high-neck depending on the amount of coverage you prefer.
lululemon Energy Bra. Wearing a size 8 (her typical bra size). This is our MVP bra from lululemon – it has the perfect amount of support/compression without limiting range of motion and the strappy back is such a cute feature.
This workout is brought to you in partnership with lululemon. And this post does include affiliate links; I do make a commission of items purchased through this post at no additional cost to you. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Nourish Move Love and all the content you see on this blog possible.