Congratulations on your pregnancy!
Now that you are pregnant, you may feel a little nervous about how exercise affects you and your baby during pregnancy, what exercises are safe during pregnancy and how to modify your workouts as your body changes.
Rest assured, in a normal and healthy pregnancy, prenatal exercise has numerous benefits for both you AND your baby!
Did you know that medical experts not only agree but encourage women with healthy pregnancies to engage in 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most, if not all, days of the week? (ACOG)
I get asked almost daily for the best prenatal exercises you can do at home.
So I figured I would round up some of my favorite exercises that you can easily add to your prenatal workout routine.
In this post, I share 20 of my top favorite safe pregnancy exercises at home that will leave you feeling refreshed, energized, strong and confident during your pregnancy!
“I’m pregnant, Should I Keep Working Out?”
Yes, yes, YES!
Many misconceptions about exercising during pregnancy can make it feel very confusing!
However, in both my professional and personal opinions, this confusion leads to most pregnant mamas I work with to be overly cautious, even to the point of not exercising during pregnancy at all.
I have had three babies in four years and exercising during pregnancy feels like one of the best things I could have done for both myself and my babies.
Physical activity of 150 or more minutes per week has been associated with improved pregnancy outcomes, compared to women who participated in less than 60 minutes per week. (Tinloy, 2014)
With that said, despite holding a bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology and a Certified Prenatal/Postnatal exercise specialist, prenatal fitness, I am not a doctor.
For this reason, I strongly recommend consulting with your healthcare provider to discuss the most appropriate avenue of exercise for your pregnancy.
Every person and pregnancy are very different and your workout routines should be approved by you doctor.
“Why Does Exercise During Pregnancy Feel So Scary?”
Even in a non-pregnant person, exercise is something that feels a little uncomfortable at times, right?
Your muscles burn, you breath heavy and you may even be sore the next day.
So naturally, we think these discomforts are causing harm to our baby.
Well, I have good news for you!
The burning in your muscles has no direct effect on your baby and all that extra blood your heart is pumping during your workouts is actually providing MORE oxygen and nutrients to the placenta!
This means your baby is also benefiting from your workout session as well, pretty cool right?
Not only does exercise help your baby receive more oxygen and nutrients, staying active will also help you reduce stress, reduce discomforts, boost mood and may even help you push your baby out faster!
“How Do I Know How Hard I Can Exercise?
Unsure what fitness level you are?
Here is a quick overview of how to determine your exercise level and intensity during pregnancy.
|Beginner||You started training less than two months ago. You have been consistent but only once or twice a week at low intensity. You may also have limited movement skill and strength training.|
|Intermediate||You have been training/exercising consistently for 2-6 months and about 3 times a week at a moderate intensity. You have some basic movement skills.|
|Advanced||You have been strength training/exercising consistently for a year or more and you train 3-4 times a week. You also have experienced high training stress and volume, understand your body’s recovery needs, has a high level of movement skills.|
Prenatal Exercise Intensity Guidelines
Because heart rate responses to prenatal exercise vary from person to person, current guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest the most accurate way to determine exercise intensity during pregnancy is by the ratings of perceived exertion scale.
Your specific exercise intensity is determined by several factors such as how long you have been exercising prior to pregnancy, the specific workout and exercises you are doing and your work/rest ratio.
|Activity Level||Perceived Exertion|
Little or no activity
|Anything other than sleeping such as watching tv, reading or riding in a car.|
|Easy to carry a conversation and intensity could be sustained for hours.|
|Breathing becomes heavier, and it becomes more difficult to hold a conversation but the intensity feels like it could be sustained for hours.|
|Intensity is on the verge of becoming uncomfortable and are unable to sustain the activity for long periods of time. You can only speak a few sentences or words at a time.|
Very Hard Activity
|Intensity is very difficult to sustain. It feels like you can barely breathe and you can hardly speak a word.|
|Level 10 |
|Almost impossible to sustain. You can hardly breathe and you cannot speak at all.|
You may be surprised to know that many of your favorite exercises prior to pregnancy are safe during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, it is best to modify or adjust your workouts, not eliminate them all together!
10 Prenatal Lower Body Exercises
10 Upper Body and Full Body Prenatal Exercises
3 Sample Prenatal Home Workouts
Perform 12-15 reps of each exercise in a circuit, resting 15-30 seconds in between exercises depending on fitness level.
Complete 3-4 circuits total.
- Sumo squats
- Incline pushups
- Regular or modified burpees
- Reverse lunge lateral raise
- Outer thigh burner
- Banded glute bridge
- Walking lunges
- Hammer bicep curl
- Bent over rows
- Bulgarian split squat
- Wall squat booty burner
- Step ups
- tricep dips
- Squat side crunch
- Lateral lunge shoulder press
- Wall squat bicep curl
Disclaimer: As always, please make sure to consult with your health care provider before starting or continuing any exercise routine during pregnancy.
Brooke is a certified Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise Specialist with a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. She is also a mom of 3 girls with more than 15 years of experience in health and fitness. Brooke’s goal at Struggles of a Fit Mom is to help motivate, educate and inspire other busy mamas who struggle with finding time, energy and motivation to take care of themselves in the chaos of motherhood.