Working out during pregnancy (assuming no contraindications) has a ton of benefits for mama and baby. We’re aiming for efficient, effective, safe, and fun workouts to help you feel strong, stable, minimize aches and pains, and prepare you for labor and the demands of motherhood.
Workouts don’t need to be long or zap your energy (pregnancy is tiring in itself)! It’s about moving your body, training your core + pelvic floor in a way that supports your body, and incorporating mindful strength training and some aerobic activity (as energy levels permit).
Eight Tips for Working Out During Pregnancy
1. Just Keep Moving: Swim, bike, walk, practice yoga – do what feels good for you and baby. During pregnancy sometimes I felt awesome, and some days I felt like poop. Tune in to your energy levels and focus on what feels good in your body. A 20+ pound weight vest (aka baby) is tough in itself!
2. Train your Core + Pelvic Floor: Core training in pregnancy is one of the most important aspects of a prenatal strength training program. Your “inner core” canister is your support system, “turning on” even before we take a step or reach for something on the shelf. Core training is about how we breathe, where we hold tension, how pressure is distributed in the body, and learning how to release and engage at the right times.
Note: Core training isn’t simply a list of exercises to avoid (e.g. crunches, leg raises) – it’s about setting up your system for success, supporting your pelvic floor, and minimizing aches & pains that happen during pregnancy & postpartum. Everyone’s needs are different.
3. Alignment: Keep an eye on alignment through movement and throughout the day. I often say “ribs over hips,” “watch for rib boob/flare” and “keep you booty behind you / watch clenching your booty.” The goal here is to set your “inner core” up for success, stacking your diaphragm over your pelvic floor so they can work as an awesome team. This post shares a bit more about finding your neutral.
Note: there is no such thing as “perfect” alignment, and variability is important too!
4. Focus on functional movements: Squats, deadlifts, lunges, pushes, presses. I program exercises that mimic activities of daily life as a mom. Squats are a great movement to focus on. I lift my kid off the ground so many times a day! They are also great for working the glutes and pelvic floor. Deadlifts – think about bending / hinging over to grab baby out of the crib ❤️
5. Unilateral Training: Working the body unilaterally is so important for mom. Think about all the times you’re holding a baby in one arm and doing something with the other, even while breastfeeding. Unilateral training has an added benefit of extra core training as we work hard to keep our body nice and stable. Think rows, chest press, bicep curls, raises, lunges, etc.
6. Work the Posterior: There’s a lot of focus on the glutes and back. This helps counteract some of the additional weight on the front side of the body (breasts, holding a baby out in front). Some of my favorites to include are deadlift variations (I like a suitcase variation a bit later in pregnancy), glute bridge, hip thrust, cable rows, and band pull aparts.
7. Flexibility Training: Flexibility training goes hand-in-hand with strength training during pregnancy. As the baby grows it’s common to feel “tight” in certain areas of the body – like your mid-back, chest, and hip flexors (to name a few). Programming in flexibility exercises will keep aches at bay.
Note: Important to not “overstretch.” Seek guidance from a PT or coach for some ideas.
8. Try something new: Don’t be afraid to try something new! It’s never too late to start exercising and/or start a strength training program in pregnancy (assuming your doc gives a thumbs up).