Stay Fit During Pregnancy [The Best Workout Plan]

(This post probably contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you through links shared on this website to help keep the information I provide free to you)

So you want to stay active during pregnancy but find the sheer amount of information about prenatal exercise confusing and even conflicting?  

You’re in luck!

As a mom of 3 (soon to be four) and prenatal/postnatal exercise specialist, I have made it my mission to bring you all the information you need to exercise safely and confidently during pregnancy and beyond.

In this post, I share everything you need to know about planning your prenatal fitness routine to help you stay fit, motivated and reduce the frustration of not knowing what to do or what is recommended.

Read on to learn how this pregnancy exercise program can help you have the fit pregnancy you want!

Disclosure: Although I am a certified prenatal/postnatal exercise specialist and personal trainer, I am not YOUR trainer. The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute of the information and advice you receive from a healthcare professional. This website does not replace the medical advice you receive from your provider.

No time to read it now? No problem! Download this Free Pregnancy workout plan PDF for quick access!

Don’t Walk Through Prenatal Exercise Alone!
Download your free prenatal workout starter guide and let’s stay fit together.
Thank you for subscribing!

Why You Need This Pregnancy Workout Plan

This pregnancy workout plan will teach you everything you need to know about exercising safely during pregnancy.

It is perfect for beginners and includes safe pregnancy exercises that are appropriate for all three trimesters.

Despite what you may have heard from well-meaning friends, family, or society members, exercise provides so many benefits to pregnancy for both you AND your baby

Pregnancy provides us with a great opportunity to make some changes to our lifestyle for the better.

If you find that exercise is difficult or too hard, modify your fitness plan so you don’t overdo it but can still reap those prenatal workouts benefits!

What Are The Benefits Of Prenatal Exercise?

Exercise provides so many benefits to pregnancy that it is worth doing even if it can feel challenging at times.

These benefits include:

Reduce Aches and Pains

Staying active helps your body accommodate the extra weight your body will carry during pregnancy. Strength training exercises will help keep your body strong and relieve some of the annoying discomforts like back pain or neck pain.

Maintain Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain

Weight gain during pregnancy is not something to be taken lightly.

Ensuring you gain a healthy amount of weight is important for both the health of you and your baby.

Related: The Truth About Pregnancy Weight Gain-How Much Do You Really Need?

Prepare Your Body For Labor

During pregnancy, you are training for one of the most physically exhausting and demanding events of your life. Exercise can help the baby get into position for a faster easier labor and delivery experience.

Related: The Number One Birthing Course Every Mom Needs

Faster Recovery Postpartum

Your body will have an easier time with recovery if you have maintained strength and endurance throughout your pregnancy.

Related: Postpartum Exercise-Don’t Start Working Out Until You Read This

Helps Build Stronger and Smarter Babies

Studies show that prenatal exercises can help increase blood supply to the placenta which means more nutrients for the baby.

This means that the increased blood volume and circulation induced by exercise can help your baby grow better by providing more oxygen and nutrients to the baby. Pretty cool, right?

Babies who are born to mothers who exercise are also better able to handle the stress of labor and have better APGAR scores at birth. (source)

Related: These 25 Benefits Of Exercise During Pregnancy Are Guaranteed to Motivate You To Move Your Bump!

Improved Mental Health

Numerous studies show that physical activity during pregnancy helps to relieve stress by releasing feel-good endorphins, improve quality of sleep and boost self-confidence which can really impact how you feel during pregnancy.

Related: 15 Tips Overcome Negative Body Image During Pregnancy

Reduce Health Complications Such as Gestational Diabetes and Preeclampsia

Both of these conditions can be a big risk factor during pregnancy and should be monitored by a healthcare professional.

Related: 25 Benefits of Exercises During Pregnancy That Will Motivate You To Move

Fun Fact: Research has shown that the placentas of women who exercise regularly during pregnancy grow faster and function better than those of women who are healthy but do not exercise regularly. (Clapp, 2002)

Is Exercising During Pregnancy Safe?

There is a lot of misinformation, fear, and outdated research circulating the internet and social media that makes it difficult to exercise with confidence during pregnancy.

For healthy and uncomplicated pregnancies, exercise is not only recommended but encouraged.

The type of exercise you do will likely depend on your pre-pregnancy fitness level, age, length of gestation and any other pregnancy-related conditions.

However, there are plenty of options for just about any mom to be!

When Is Exercising During Pregnancy Unsafe?

Despite the general recommendation that pregnant women should remain active during their pregnancy, I would NOT advise you to exercise if your doctor has told you any of the following things:

Exercise is inadvisable for the following conditions:

  • Unexplained persistent bleeding
  • Ruptured membranes
  • Pre-Eclampsia
  • Placenta previa after 28 weeks
  • Uncontrolled Type I diabetes, hypertension or thyroid disease
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Premature labor
  • Any other serious cardiovascular or respiratory disorder

Exercise may not be recommended for the following conditions and should be approved by your healthcare provider

  • History of spontaneous preterm birth
  • Mild or moderate cardiovascular or respiratory disease
  • Recurrent pregnancy loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Eating Disorder
  • Twin pregnancy after the 28th week
  • Other significant health conditions that you have spoken with your doctor about.

When Can You Start Exercising During Pregnancy?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

The answer depends on several factors including your current fitness level, the severity of pregnancy symptoms, how exercise feels for you and if you have a high-risk pregnancy.

In general, if you have a normal pregnancy and have received the green light from your doctor, you can start a pregnancy workout routine at any point regardless of your fitness level before pregnancy.

If you were active pre-pregnancy, you should be able to continue what you’ve been doing with a few modifications as your pregnancy progresses.

If you are new to exercise, start with a few minutes a day and build your way up to longer workouts as your strength and stamina increase.

The most important thing is that you listen to your body.

If you have any unusual pain or discomforts, stop the exercise and be sure to run it by your doctor.

If you have questions about what types of exercises would be best for you and your pregnancy, please reach out to me and I would be happy to help get you started!

What Are The Best Pregnancy Workouts and Exercises?

In general, most exercises and workouts are safe to do during pregnancy as long as you have your doctor’s approval.

Your prenatal workout plan should include:

  • Cardio exercises to keep your endurance strong which with help with labor.
  • Strength training exercises to improve muscle tone and strength to help support the physical changes of pregnancy.
  • Flexibility exercises to help reduce aches and pains and improve mobility.
  • Pelvic floor and core exercises specifically for pregnancy.

These exercises include:

  • Resistance Training
  • Cardio Exercises
    • Walking
    • Running
    • Stationary Bike
    • Stair Climber
    • Zumba/HIGH Fitness Classes
    • Elliptical Machines
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

What Exercises or Workouts Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

You should avoid any exercises during pregnancy that can increase your risk of:

  • Losing Balance and Falling
  • (rollerblading, horseback riding, skiing)
  • Overheating
  • (hot yoga, exercising outdoors in extreme heat)
  • Direct trauma to your abdomen
  • (contact sports)

Other Exercises To Avoid During Pregnancy Include:

  • Exercises that require you to lay on your back for more than a few minutes. This can restrict blood flow and cause dizziness or fainting.
  • Traditional core exercises such as sit-ups and planks. These exercises place too much pressure on weakened core muscles from pregnancy and can increase abdominal wall separation and weakness.
  • Exercises that cause you to feel excess pressure or pain in your pelvic floor.

When Should You Stop Exercising During Pregnancy?

Many expecting moms can continue exercising up until a day or two before giving birth.

This was on my due date with my second baby!

However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should stop exercising and speak to your health care provider.

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Leaking of fluid 
  • Dizziness or feeling light-headed
  • Chest pain or severe headache 
  • Contractions
  • Decreased fetal movement 

How Will Pregnancy Affect My Workouts?

Even if you feel like you were a conditioned athlete before pregnancy, you will notice some significant changes to how your body responds to exercise during pregnancy.

You may notice some or all of these changes but rest assured, they are normal and you will likely need to modify exercises to accommodate these changes as your pregnancy progresses.

Increased Heart Rate

The rapid increase in blood volume in the first trimester can cause in an increase in heart rate until the heart becomes better adapted to handle the extra volume.

These symptoms usually decrease significantly by the fourth month after your heart becomes better adapted for the extra blood volume and flow.

Joint Instability or Pain

Your body releases a joint softening hormone called “Relaxin” during pregnancy.

This hormone softens the connective tissue which allows the pelvis to open during childbirth.

It can also make your hips and other joints looser while exercising or performing everyday tasks.

More unstable joints can cause discomfort or feel off-balanced.

You May Feel More Sweaty

 During pregnancy, your body lowers its natural set point for sweating.

This means you may feel hotter at a lower temperature than normal.

Sweating more easily during pregnancy is the body’s natural cooling system and helps to reduce the risk of your temperature rising enough to bother you or your baby.

Pelvic and Back Pain

The combination of weakened core muscles and the joint softening hormone Relaxin may cause much more pain in your neck, back and pelvis.

Related: 23 Must Know Tips & Exercises For Neck Pain During Pregnancy

Related: 15 Prenatal Exercises For Instant Back Pain Relief

Remember, some days you might feel great but other days may not go as well or feel like a struggle – don’t be discouraged, just listen to your body, take pregnancy workouts slow and stop when you need to.

How Often Should Pregnant Women Exercise?

The recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is that pregnant women should get at least 150 minutes of “moderate aerobic activity” weekly.

150 minutes may seem like a lot but it’s really not!

This could be spread out to 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week or even smaller chunks if you are newer to exercise.

You should also include strength training and stretching for a more well-rounded pregnancy workout plan.

It’s okay if you struggle to maintain this amount each week of your pregnancy.

When it comes to exercise, something is ALWAYS better than nothing!

How To Modify Exercises During Pregnancy

You most likely won’t need to make many modifications to your workouts until the second trimester as your baby gets bigger.

There are several ways to modify your prenatal workouts to keep you moving.

These modifications will be based on:

  • Your fitness level before pregnancy
  • How far along you are in your pregnancy
  • If you have any pregnancy complications
  • If you have pregnancy-related symptoms that make it difficult for you to function let alone to exercise.

Exercise modifications will include:

  1. Reducing exercise intensity
  2. Reducing exercise duration
  3. Switching to lower impact exercises such as swimming and walking if you become too uncomfortable or experience any pain.
  4. Modifying exercises to protect your core and pelvic floor

Pregnancy Exercise Modifications:

Core Exercises

Proper core engagement becomes compromised during pregnancy as the abdominal muscles stretch and separate to accommodate your growing baby.

Exercises such as leg lifts, bicycle crunches, planks, push-ups or anything where you are unable to maintain core engagement should be avoided to prevent further stretching and weakening.

You can modify these exercises by doing elevated push-ups, pregnancy-safe ab and plank variations.

Cardio Exercises

Most forms of cardio are safe during pregnancy. You will likely need to adjust the intensity, duration or form of cardio as you get further along. If you were a runner, you may notice that it no longer feels comfortable later in your pregnancy. If you feel lightheaded, dizzy or too winded, decrease exercise intensity.

Weight Lifting Exercises

If certain weight lifting exercises become challenging, decrease the amount of weight you are lifting to maintain good form and reduce pressure on the core and pelvic floor. You can increase the number of reps to make your workout a little more challenging.


Avoid over-stretching to prevent injury to loose joints.

How Hard Should I Exercise During Pregnancy?

Exercise intensity will vary depending on your pre-pregnancy fitness level, pregnancy symptoms and the condition of your pregnancy.

Current research states that there is no specific target heart rate that women need to maintain during pregnancy but rather they can listen to their bodies feel and respond to the workouts you are doing.

Instead, the most accurate measurement of exercise intensity during pregnancy is the rate of perceived exertion rather.

This is because your heart has to work much harder during pregnancy to accommodate the increased blood volume and get oxygen to you and your baby.

In 2020, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) determined that using the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE) is a more accurate and effective way to monitor exercise intensity during pregnancy.

You should be somewhere between 6-7 on the rate RPE scale.

If you are new to exercise and find it difficult to gauge your intensity, use the talk test. You should be exercising at an intensity in which you can carry a conversation.

Remember, this will vary for everyone! An athletes exertion level will be different than someone who is newer to exercise.

Safety Tips For Your Pregnancy Workout Plan

These recommendations are from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG):

  • Get clearance from your healthcare provider if you are new to exercise, have any health conditions or have any concerns about continuing your current exercise routine. 
  • Stay hydrated by making sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after your workouts. Dehydration is very dangerous during pregnancy.
  • Avoid getting overheated
  • Do not lie on your back for extended periods of time, especially late in the second trimester and third trimester. 
  • Avoid contact sports or anything that can cause to fall or getting it in the belly.
  • Never push yourself to the point of exhaustion
  • Make sure you are fueling your body appropriately to support your workouts and your pregnancy.

Related: The Perfect Pregnancy Nutrition Plan

Can I Continue My Favorite Workouts During Pregnancy?

One of the most confusing statements when navigating prenatal fitness is, “you can continue doing what you were doing prior to pregnancy.”

While continuing your exercise routine prior to pregnancy might be considered medically “safe” in uncomplicated pregnancies, it may not be functionally beneficial to your changing body during a period of rapid growth and change.

This means that as your baby grows, you will want to modify your workouts to protect the integrity of your core, pelvic floor muscles and more relaxed joints.

The workouts you do during pregnancy will also help prevent postpartum issues such as incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

The Best Pregnancy Workout Plan To Keep You Fit For 9 Months

This pregnancy workout plan will help you stay active during pregnancy, gain strength and feel your best!

The workouts are divided by trimester.

Each phase has a lower body workout, upper body workout and full body conditioning workout.

Don’t forget to include your core and pelvic floor exercises!

First Trimester Pregnancy Workout Plan

First Trimester Lower Body Home Workout

Exercise# of Sets# of Reps
Warm-up 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching
Superset #1
Goblet squat
Hip Thrusts
Jump squats

12- 15
Superset #2
Alternating Deficit reverse lunge

24 reps total (12 each leg)
Superset #3
Glute bridge 
Lateral Band walks
Wall squat
20 reps 
20 each direction
30 seconds

First Trimester Upper Body Home Workout

Exercise# of Sets# of Reps
Warm-up 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching
Superset #1
Push-ups (elevated if you need to modify)
Bicep curl to press


Superset #2
Bent over rows with tricep kickback 
Lateral raises
Superset #3
Band Pull-Apart
Mountain Climbers

First Trimester Full Body Home Workout

Warm-up 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching

Repeat each exercise in order for 10 reps then 9,8,7,6….1

Dumbbell burpee with curl press
Bulgarian split squat (R)
Bulgarian split squat (L)
Single leg hip thrust (R)
Single leg hip thrust (L)
Tricep Dips
Bent over rows with tricep kickback
Lateral raises 

Second Trimester Pregnancy Workout Plan

 Second Trimester Lower Body Home Workout

Exercise# of Sets# of Reps
Warm-up 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching
Superset #1
Sumo Squats

3-4 12- 15 reps then 10 squat pulses without weight
12- 15
Superset #2
Glute Bridge
Alternating Step-ups
3-4 12-15
Superset #3
Single leg hip thrust R
Single leg hip thrust L
Bulgarian split squat R
Bulgarian split squat L
12-15 Each Leg

 Second Trimester Upper Body Home Workout

Exercise# of Sets# of Reps
Warm-up 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching
Superset #1
Shoulder press 
Bicep curls
12- 15
Superset #2
Single arm row with tricep kickback 
Lateral raises
3-4 12-15
Superset #3
Push-ups (elevated if needed)
Mountain Climbers

30 total mountain climbers

 Second Trimester Full Body Home Workout

Warm-up 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching

-Burpees (elevated to modify if needed)
-Sumo pulse squats
-Bicep curl press
-Reverse lunge with lateral raise 
-Bent over rows with tricep kickback 
-Mountain climbers
Repeat each exercise for 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest

For an extra challenge, try each exercise for 40-45 seconds with 30 seconds rest!

Third Trimester Pregnancy Workout Plan

 Second Trimester Lower Body Home Workout

Exercise# of Sets# of Reps
Warm-up 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching
Superset #1 (body weight if needed)
Hip thrusts
12- 15 or 20 if using body weight
Superset #2
Lateral band walks
Reverse lunges
Wall squat
30-45 seconds
Superset #3
Walking lunges
Dead lifts



 Second Trimester Upper Body Home Workout

Exercise# of Sets# of Reps
Warm-up 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching
Superset #1
Bicep curls 
Elevated push-ups
12- 15
Superset #2
Single arm row R
Single arm row L
Lateral raise R
Lateral raise L
12-15 each arm

Superset #3
Single Arm Shoulder Press R
Single Arm Shoulder Press L
Tricep kick-back R
Tricep kick-back L
3-4 12-15 each arm

 Second Trimester Upper Body Home Workout

Warm-up 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching

-Sumo Squats with a pulse 
-Bicep curl press
-Reverse lunge with lateral raise 
-Band pull apart (with good core engagement!)
-Wall squat 
-Elevated push-up
Repeat each exercise for 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest

For an extra challenge, try each exercise for 40-45 seconds with 30 seconds rest!

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy Exercise

These are some of the most common questions I receive about exercising during pregnancy.

What would you like to know? Comment below or email me and I’ll be sure to answer it for you!

Is It Safe To Start Exercising During Pregnancy if I’ve Never Worked Out?

Contrary to what you may have heard, pregnancy is actually a great time to start exercising! 

However, this is not the green light to start vigorously breaking a sweat. 

You need to start slow and work your way up to longer workouts as tolerated. 

What Is The Best Way For Beginners To Exercise During Pregnancy?

If you were not an avid exerciser prior to pregnancy, you will want to start slow with exercises such as light weight lifting, walking, riding a stationary bike or swimming. 

If you have been sedentary prior to pregnancy or have a BMI of 30 or more and have received clearance from your healthcare provider, these are my recommendations:

  • Use the ratings of perceived exertion scale to monitor your intensity level
  • Listen to your body and stay consistent so that your body has an opportunity to adapt to the workouts
  • Take rest days to allow your body to recover from your workouts
  • Stay in communication with your doctor if you have any concerns about how your body is responding to exercise.

Remember, prenatal exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous in order for you to reap the benefits.

Related: 20 Prenatal Home Exercises To Help You Stay Fit During Pregnancy

Can I lose Fat During Pregnancy if I’m Overweight?

If you are starting your pregnancy overweight or obese, now is not the time to focus on weight loss but rather ensuring you gain a healthy amount of weight for both you and your baby.

Some moms find that focusing on a healthy pregnancy nutrition plan and staying active help them reduce unnecessary weight gain which can help prevent pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

As always, make sure to discuss your concerns with your health care provider!

Related: Pregnancy and Fat Loss-13 Expert Tips To Do It Safely

Related: A Pregnancy Nutrition Plan To Ensure a Healthy Weight Gain

Can I Continue Running During Pregnancy?

If you were an avid runner prior to pregnancy, you should be able to continue as long as you feel comfortable.

Remember, now is not the time to focus on personal records but ra

I would focus on supplementing your runs with strength training workouts to help you build strength and stability to help mitigate pregnancy aches and pains, such as low back pain.

Related: How To Continue Running During Pregnancy Safely

What Are The Best Pregnancy Workouts?

The best pregnancy workouts are the ones you enjoy, make you feel strong and the ones you will stick with the longest!

The “best” pregnancy workouts are ones that you will stick with in order to feel strong, confident and healthy.

Don’t pressure yourself to do workouts you don’t enjoy! There are plenty of pregnancy exercises and workouts to help you reach your goals without doing things you dread.

What Are The Best Stretches During Pregnancy?

Stretching during pregnancy is very important in helping relieve aches and pains as well as keeping your body strong.

You should aim to include gentle stretches into your pregnancy workouts and do them regularly throughout the day to help relieve common aches and pains that come with pregnancy.

Here are some helpful posts to help you find the right stretches and exercises to relieve your body of aches and pains during pregnancy.

Can Exercise Cause Miscarriage?

Current research does not show or support that exercise causes miscarriage.

However, if you are severely over-exercising or not eating enough to support pregnancy, this can cause a lack of nutrients for both mom and baby.

If you have concerns about exercising during pregnancy make sure to consult your health care provider. The key is moderation in all things and this includes prenatal exercise.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that “Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery.

However, it is important to discuss exercise with your obstetrician or other member of your health care team during your early prenatal visits.”

What Are Your Favorite Pregnancy Must-Haves?

These are my favorite pregnancy workout must-haves:

  1. A belly support band– Nothing too tight but helps your belly feel more supported during your workouts. I also love it because it reminds me to keep my core engaged.
  1. Belly Lotion- I have used Palmers Coconut Butter and Almond oil through all four of my pregnancies and it keeps the itching at bay and has helped reduce stretch marks.
  1. Collagen Protein-This is an absolute MUST both during pregnancy and postpartum. Collagen helps improve and maintain the elasticity of your skin and the integrity of your joints. It also helps tremendously in reducing joint pain and preventing stretch marks!
  1. Plant Based Protein Powder– Food aversions can make it tough to get enough protein in your diet, especially if you are exercising. This is my favorite clean protein powder that I have used through all my pregnancies.

Related: Protein Powder During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Final Thoughts on The Best Pregnancy Workout Plan

Remember, pregnancy is not a time for personal records but rather an opportunity to set the foundation of a healthy future for both you and your baby.

Staying active in ways that are safe for you and your pregnancy will give you the best possible outcomes.

All the research points towards pregnancy being a time where exercise can have huge benefits in terms of both pregnancy and postpartum recovery.

Being aware that there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to pregnancy workouts should also help keep any feelings of guilt at bay if you find yourself not sticking to an exact routine like before pregnancy.

Doing pregnancy workouts that you enjoy and feel good about is the best thing for your pregnancy!

Stay active during pregnancy by downloading this FREE pregnancy workout plan.

  • If you want to learn more about pregnancy workouts and print out this workout schedule, click here!
  • For a complete pregnancy workout plan that includes all the exercise types listed above and much more, check out my blog for pregnancy fitness tips.
  • You can also join me on Instagram @strugglesofafitmom post my favorite workouts and family life


Struggles of a Fit Mom uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within it’s articles. Read my  editorial process to learn more about how I fact-check and keep my content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Moyer C, Reoyo OR, May L. The Influence of Prenatal Exercise on Offspring Health: A Review. Clin Med Insights Womens Health. 2016;9:37-42. Published 2016 Oct 17. doi:10.4137/CMWH.S34670
  • Kołomańska D, Zarawski M, Mazur-Bialy A. Physical Activity and Depressive Disorders in Pregnant Women-A Systematic Review. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019;55(5):212. Published 2019 May 26. doi:10.3390/medicina55050212
  • Bauer I, Hartkopf J, Kullmann S, et alSpotlight on the fetus: how physical activity during pregnancy influences fetal health: a narrative reviewBMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2020;6:e000658. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000658

Similar Posts