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8 Best First Trimester Exercises (30-Minute Strength Workout)

Stay active and strong through every stage of your pregnancy with this low impact strength training pregnancy workout! Eight of the BEST first trimester exercises that are safe to carry into your second and third trimesters as well. A 30-minute prenatal workout at home with eight pregnancy-safe strength exercises.

*You also can view this 30-Minute First Trimester Strength Workout on Youtube. While you’re there, SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel to get all the newest workouts!

Jump to 8 Best First Trimester Exercises

So many of you discovered NML through my FREE 30-Day Pregnancy Workout Plan or my most popular 30-Minute Prenatal Workout on YouTube.

To be honest, I started filming strength training pregnancy workouts out of my own discontentment with the prenatal workouts currently available online.

As someone who had a regular exercise routine pre-pregnancy, I couldn’t find pregnancy workouts on YouTube that still challenged me in a pregnancy-safe way (it was all leg lifts and 5lb dumbbells).

Exercise During Pregnancy FAQ’s:

Is it okay to workout during the first trimester of pregnancy?

In general, YES. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says it’s safe to continue regular exercise during pregnancy.

first trimester strength workout | lateral lunge with weights

Which exercises are safe during early pregnancy?

  • Strength training and weight training
  • Walking and running
  • Yoga and pilates
  • Stationary bike or spinning
  • Swimming and water aerobics

Most physical activities you were doing pre-pregnancy are safe to continue into your pregnancy.

Of course, every body (and every pregnancy) is different. Before you begin an exercise program, you should consult your doctor, midwife or health care professional; and listen to your body. 

First trimester exercises to avoid?

  1. Full Sit Ups and Crunches.
  2. Bearing Down (movements or exercise that places extreme pressure on your abdominal wall and pelvic floor).
  3. Any Ab Exercises That Cause “Coning” or “Doming” Of the Midsection (especially if you have existing “diastasis recti” (abdominal separation often referred to as DR).
  4. High Impact, Contact Sports.
  5. Lying On Your Stomach and Belly Down Postures.

Learn more in this post on 5 Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy and Pregnancy-Safe Modifications.

You should also avoid overheating (hot yoga) and getting ‘breathless’ during pregnancy workouts.

In general, it’s okay to raise your heart rate, but remember the ‘talk test’. With moderate intensity exercise, you should be able to comfortably hold a conversation with a friend while exercising during pregnancy.

Disclaimer: stop exercising if you experience warning signs like dizziness, leaking fluid or vaginal bleeding.

benefits of exercising during pregnancy | wide squat and back row

What are the benefits of first trimester exercise?

I’ll be honest — between the nausea and fatigue, the first trimester has been rough in each of my pregnancies. So if you’re struggling right now just know, this happens to most pregnant women.

That said, most days movement like this first trimester workout at home did help me feel better.

According to Mayo Clinic, benefits of exercising during pregnancy include:

  • Reduce lower back pain, backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
  • Boost your mood and energy levels
  • Better sleep quality
  • Prevent extra weight gain, high blood pressure and gestational diabetes
  • Promote muscle tone, strength and endurance

Safe Pregnancy Workout At Home | First Trimester Exercises

30-Minute First Trimester Strength Workout (8 Best First Trimester Exercises)

From squats and deadlifts to back rows and shoulder presses — these are 8 safe pregnancy exercises you can do at home with a set of dumbbells.

You can start these exercises in your first trimester and carry them with you into your second and third trimesters. Build strong legs, glutes, hamstrings, arms, chest, back and shoulders all in just 30 minutes at home!

I suggest adding this full body first trimester strength workout to your prenatal workout plan 1-2 times a week.

Workout Equipment:

Medium to heavy dumbbells. We are using 15-20 lb weights in this pregnancy workout.

Workout Instructions:

Click here to follow along with this First Trimester Workout on YouTube (video at the top of this post). The video will provide demonstrations of each first trimester exercise. 

I’ll coach you through all eight first trimester exercises, providing form cues and modifications.

Alternatively, work through the list of pregnancy exercises at home below at your own pace.

The Strength Training Pregnancy Workout Looks Like This:

  • 2 Full Body Strength Circuits (4 First Trimester Exercises per Circuit)
  • Time Drop Format (Set One: 40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest; Set Two: 30 seconds of work, 15 seconds of rest; Set Three: 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest)
  • Repeat Each Circuit x3 Sets

8 Best First Trimester Exercises At Home (Safe for Second and Third Trimesters Too)

CIRCUIT ONE:

  1. Squat + Alternating Curl + Overhead Press (Optional Knee Drive)
  2. Wide Squat + Alternating Back Rows
  3. 1 Push Up + 2 Dumbbell Pass
  4. Hinge Swing + Single Arm Press

CIRCUIT TWO:

  1. 1.5 Overhead Tricep Extensions
  2. Deadlift + Curl + Front Rack Alternating Lateral Lunge
  3. Sumo Deadlift + Back Row + Sumo Squat
  4. Lunge Hold (Or Squat Hold) + Dumbbell Press

8 BEST First Trimester Exercises (First Trimester Strength Workout)

1. Squat + Alternating Curl + Overhead Press

Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, arms, biceps, shoulders and core.

Squats are a great exercise during pregnancy to maintain strength and range of motion in the hips, glutes, core, and pelvic floor muscles.

squat, curl and press | first trimester strength workout

How to do a Squat + Alternating Bicep Curl + Overhead Press:

  1. Start standing, feet shoulder width apart, knees bent. Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your sides (palms facing in).
  2. Sit your hips back as you lower into a squat, striving for a 90 degree angle between your hips and knees.
  3. Then, drive through your heels to stand tall (legs straight).
  4. As you stand, perform a single arm hammer curl to single arm shoulder press. Perform a hammer curl on the right arm by bringing the dumbbell up to shoulder height, palm facing in towards your shoulder. Then, press your right arm overhead performing a single arm shoulder press.
  5. As you perform the single arm shoulder press, you have the option to also perform a knee drive on the opposite leg.
  6. Lower the dumbbell in your right hand back to the starting position and repeat, alternating sides (on the next squat perform a single arm hammer curl and shoulder press on your left arm).

Modification: Follow Rachel on the left and omit the knee drive.

2. Wide Squat + Alternating Back Rows

Targets: The legs, glutes, hips, quads, hamstrings, deep transverse abdomen muscles (core), and back (lats).

wide squat and back row | first trimester exercise

How to do a Wide Squat + Alternating Back Row:

  1. Start in a wide squat stance or sumo squat. Feet wider than hips and shoulders, knees bent, toes slightly pointed out.
  2. Place a set of dumbbells on the ground between your legs. Hinge forward at the hips into a bent over row position, neutral spine, flat back from head to tailbone.
  3. Alternate pulling the weights back toward your hip, right arm first.
  4. Control the dumbbell back down to the mat. Then, perform a single arm back row on the left arm; pulling the weight back toward your left hip.
  5. Continue to alternate the back rows while holding the wide squat the entire time.

Modification: If holding the wide squat stance becomes uncomfortable you can before bent over back rows.

3. 1 Push Up + 2 Dumbbell Pass

Targets: Arms, chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abs, obliques and core.

Push ups are a great exercise during pregnancy to strengthen your chest, arms and core. As your pregnancy progresses you can modify with incline push ups.

push up and dumbbell pass | first trimester strength workout

How to do 1 Push Up + 2 Dumbbell Pass:

  1. Start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers. Place a set of dumbbells just behind your right hand on the mat.
  2. Perform a push up by lowering your chest down towards the ground, elbows fall back towards hips.
  3. Then exhale as you push back up into high plank position.
  4. Hold high plank, keeping your core stable, as you reach across your body with your left hand to pull both dumbbells across your body (one dumbbell at a time). Dumbbells are now just behind your left hand on the mat.
  5. Repeat this sequence, performing one push up, then pulling both dumbbells to the opposite side of the mat.

Modification: Perform push ups from your knees and the dumbbell pass from your toes; or follow Rachel on the left perform modified push ups and modified planks (both from your knees).

4. Hinge Swing + Single Arm Press

Targets: Legs, hips, hamstrings, glutes, arms shoulders, abs and core.

hinge swing and single arm press | pregnancy workout at home

How to do a Hinge Swing and Single Arm Press:

  1. Start in a half kneeling position — right knee bent at 90 degrees, right foot on the mat in front of you (right knee in line with hip). And left knee bent at 90 degrees on the mat underneath your left hip.
  2. Hold one dumbbell in the left hand with a neutral grip (palm facing your right thigh).
  3. Perform a half kneeling hinge swing by hinging at the hips with the dumbbell between your legs. Then drive your hips forward, powering the dumbbell up to your left shoulder; elbow in line with your shoulder.
  4. Then drive through your right heel to stand up, bringing feet parallel as you push the dumbbell overhead with your left hand. Press the dumbbell straight overhead, locking out the elbow, left bicep by left ear.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbell back down towards the left shoulder as you step the left leg back to a lunge, lowering the left knee back to the mat with control; simultaneously lowering the dumbbell in your left hand back between the legs.
  6. That’s one rep. Repeat this movement for 40 seconds on the leftt side, then switch sides, for the second set.

Modification: Follow Rachel on the left and stay standing throughout the entire movement. Perform a staggered stance dumbbell swing instead of kneeling swing.

5. 1.5 Overhead Tricep Extensions

Targets: Arms, triceps (back of the arms), shoulders, back, glutes, abs and core.

overhead tricep extensions | first trimester exercises at home

How to do 1.5 Overhead Tricep Extensions:

  1. Stand with feet hip distance apart, core engaged and soft bend in your knees.
  2. Hold one dumbbell vertically between your hands overhead.
  3. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, bringing the dumbbell behind your head. Think ‘hide the dumbbell, show the dumbbell’, if you were watching yourself in a mirror. Keep your elbows close to your ears throughout the entire movement (don’t let your elbows flare out as you fatigue).
  4. Raise the dumbbell halfway up, then lower back behind your head.
  5. Then raise the dumbbell all the way up, overhead.
  6. Think: all the way down, half way up, back down and to the top.

6. Deadlift + Curl + Front Rack Alternating Lateral Lunge

Targets: Legs, hamstrings, glutes, hips, outer glutes, inner thighs, abs and core.

deadlift to lateral lunge | prenatal workout at home

How to do Deadlift + Curl + Front Rack Alternating Lateral Lunge:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding one dumbbell horizontally at your hips.
  2. With a soft bend in the knees, hinge at your hips to slide the dumbbell down the front of your legs. Think about pushing your hips back behind you.
  3. Hinge until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs (hamstring muscles). Then drive through your heels to stand up; returning to the starting position. That is a deadlift.
  4. As you return to a standing position, curl the dumbbell up towards your shoulders.
  5. Hold the dumbbell in this front rack position as you step your left leg out into a side lunge.
  6. Shift your weight into your left heel as you push your hips back, bending your left knee while leaving your right leg straight. Think of performing a single leg squat with your left leg.
  7. Then, drive through your left foot to reverse the movement, pushing you back up to center.
  8. Repeat this sequence, alternating the lateral lunge to the right and left after each deadlift.

7. Sumo Deadlift + Back Row + Sumo Squat

Targets: Legs, hamstrings, hips, glutes, quads, low back, mid-back, abs and core.

The wider, sumo squat and deadlift can provide more space for your belly as your pregnancy progresses.

sumo deadlift and sumo | first trimester exercise

How to do Sumo Deadlift + Back Row + Sumo Squat:

  1. Stand with feet wider than hips, heels in and toes pointed out (sumo squat stance). Hold one dumbbell in both hands at your hips.
  2. Perform a deadlift. With a soft bend in the knees, hinge at your hips to bring your torso parallel to the ground.
  3. Hold at the bottom of the deadlift and perform a bent over back row with the dumbbell. Pull your elbows back towards your hips, keeping a neutral spine, flat back from head to tailbone.
  4. Lower the dumbbell with control and drive through your heels to stand up; returning to the starting position. As you stand, clean the dumbbell up towards your shoulders.
  5. Hold this front rack position as you bend your knees to lower down into a sumo squat, pushing your knees out towards your pinky toes as you drop your hips parallel to your knees.
  6. Drive through the heels to stand up, returning to the starting position and repeat this sequence for 40 seconds.

Modification: Follow Rachel on the left and omit the dumbbell clean; keeping the dumbbell between your legs throughout the entire movement.

8. Lunge Hold (Or Squat Hold) + Dumbbell Press

Targets: Legs, glutes, hamstrings, thighs, hips, arms, shoulders, chest, abs, obliques and core.

lunge hold dumbbell press | pregnancy workout for the first trimester

How to do Lunge Hold + Dumbbell Press:

  1. Start in a kneeling position, both knees on the mat, holding one dumbbell horizontally at your chest.
  2. Step your right foot on the mat in front of you, leg bent at 90 degrees, right knee in line with right hip.
  3. Drive through your right heel to lift your back left knee 1-2 inches off the mat into a low lunge position.
  4. Hold at the bottom of the lunge as you press the dumbbell out in front of you for a 3 second count. Arms straight, dumbbell in line with shoulders.
  5. Then lower the left leg back to the mat as you return the dumbbell to your chest.
  6. Return to the starting position, kneeling on both knees. Repeat this movement, alternating stepping your right and left foot out into a low lunge hold.

Modification: Follow Rachel on the left and hold a low squat with dumbbell press. Note, as your pregnancy progresses lunges may become uncomfortable so this is a great modification.

Pin this Workout: 30-Minute Pregnancy Strength Workout (First Trimester, Second Trimester + Third Trimester)

The BEST Pregnancy Exercises for the First Trimester | pin for pinterest

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For more safe pregnancy workouts, download my Free Pregnancy Workout Plan: 30 Days of Prenatal Workouts

FREE 30 Day Pregnancy Workout Plan with Videos

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