This basic guide to pregnancy exercise will provide you some links to free pregnancy specific workouts you can do at home or in the gym, as well as some information on what exercises are pregnancy safe, and what exercises you should be avoiding. Don’t forget your pelvic floor!
Pregnancy-friendly exercises you can do at home or at the gym
There are lots of health benefits to staying active and doing regular exercise during pregnancy, but it can be difficult to know where to start, or how to alter your regular exercise routine to ensure it’s still safe, now that you’re pregnant. Here are some great, free options we’ve curated from across the internet.
Kayla Itsines is the co-creator of the Bikini Body Guides (BBG) and one of the most influential trainers in the world. She recently gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy (Congrats Kayla!) and has posted 2 free pregnancy exercise circuits on her blog to help you maintain your fitness and stay active during pregnancy. You can do her pregnancy-friendly workouts in the gym or in the comfort of your own home. Whichever you prefer.
The goal here is to maintain your fitness, not to achieve a personal best. Complete them at your own pace. Make sure that you are listening to your body and that you feel okay to continue with each workout.
Each of her circuit workouts contain 4 exercises and take about 7 minutes, however she suggests you complete them at your own pace.
Fitness expert and Tone It Up co-founder Katrina Scott, shared some pregnancy-safe exercises and workouts with The Bump . She runs through 3 separate workouts designed for each of the 3 trimesters, and including some demonstration videos to show you exactly what you should be doing.
Katrina’s tip are sure to help you stay strong and healthy throughout your entire pregnancy.
First trimester exercises
When it comes to working out while pregnant, especially in those early weeks and months, time and energy are two of the biggest challenges. This first trimester pregnancy exercise workout is perfect to fit in a quick, energising strength routine to tone you up from head to toe.
Second trimester exercises
The second trimester workout routine focuses on strengthening your postural muscles so you stay strong, properly aligned and pain-free throughout your pregnancy. After all, you’ve got to support that growing bump! Don’t forget to hydrate!
Third trimester exercises
A strong butt and legs are everything during your third trimester (not to mention delivery and beyond!). The best thing about booty workouts? You can do them throughout your whole pregnancy!
For a fitter pregnancy
Add these exercises to your daily workout to help make your joints stronger, improve circulation, ease backache and generally help you feel well.
As your baby gets bigger, you may find that the hollow in your lower back increases and this can give you backache. These exercises strengthen stomach (abdominal) muscles and ease backache, which can be a problem in pregnancy:
- Start in a box position (on all fours) with knees under hips, hands under shoulders, with fingers facing forward and abdominals lifted to keep your back straight.
- Pull in your stomach muscles and raise your back up towards the ceiling, curling the trunk and allowing your head to relax gently forward. Don’t let your elbows lock.
- Hold for a few seconds then slowly return to the box position.
- Take care not to hollow your back; it should always return to a straight/neutral position. Do this slowly and rhythmically 10 times, making your muscles work hard and moving your back carefully.
- Only move your back as far as you can comfortably.
Pelvic tilt exercises
- Stand with your shoulders and bottom against a wall.
- Keep your knees soft.
- Pull your tummy button towards your spine, so that your back flattens against the wall; hold for four seconds and release.
- Repeat up to 10 times.
Pregnancy safe exercises
Activities that are generally safe during pregnancy, even for beginners, include:
- cycling – outdoors or on a stationary bicycle
- muscle strengthening exercises, including pelvic floor exercises
- exercise in water (aquarobics)
- yoga, stretching and other floor exercises
- pregnancy exercise classes.
*Source: Better Health Channel
Before exercising when pregnant, consult your doctor, physiotherapist or healthcare professional. You may need to modify your existing exercise program or choose a suitable new one if you were exercising very little before getting pregnant.
Exercise to avoid during pregnancy
During pregnancy, avoid contact sports, high-altitude exertion, including downhill skiing and scuba diving, and activities with increased risk of falling. If you’re not sure whether a particular activity is safe during pregnancy, check with your healthcare professional. Activities to avoid include:
- Contact sports or activities that carry a risk of falling (such as trampolining, rollerblading, downhill skiing, horse riding and basketball)
- Competition sports – depending on the stage of your pregnancy, the level of competition and your level of fitness (consult your doctor, physiotherapist or healthcare professional)
- After about the fourth month of pregnancy, exercises that involve lying on your back – the weight of the baby can slow the return of blood to the heart. Modify these exercises by lying on your side.
- In the later stages of pregnancy, activities that involve jumping, frequent changes of direction and excessive stretching (such as gymnastics).
Source: Physical Activity Australia
Pregnancy exercise tips
- If you weren’t active before you got pregnant, don’t suddenly take up strenuous exercise. If you start an aerobic exercise program, tell the instructor that you’re pregnant and let them advise you of the safest options.
- Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial.
- Don’t exhaust yourself – a light to moderate exercise program should be the aim.
- Being fit will help make your pregnancy much more enjoyable, assist you during labour, and help you cope better with the demands of a young baby1.
- For most women, 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise most days is encouraged. You should be able to hold a conversation easily whilst exercising.
- Choose well ventilated areas when exercising to avoid overheating.
- Stay well hydrated.
- A thorough warm up and cool down is essential before aerobic or strength exercise.
Don’t forget your Pelvic Floor exercises
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, uterus (womb) and bowel. Pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor.
When your pelvic floor muscles become weak, you may find that you leak urine when you cough, sneeze or strain. And while you may not have experienced these symptoms pre-pregnancy, they are certainly something that you may encounter postpartum.
Healthy, fit pelvic floor muscles before your baby is born will mend more easily after the birth and can help you to reduce or avoid stress incontinence after pregnancy. Performing pelvic floor exercises will help you keep your pelvic floor muscles strong.
This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.