I’m not going to lie, I thought I would still be crushing heavy weighted bar squats in my third trimester. But the truth is, I didn’t break a real sweat after the belly started to make an appearance. That didn’t mean I wasn’t getting exercise, it just looked drastically different than my pre-pregnancy fitness routine.
Pregnancy fitness is difficult to provide or take advice on because pregnancy itself is such a different experience for everyone. The most important thing is to listen to your body – if it doesn’t feel right.. don’t do it! In pregnancy, I was certainly not trying to build strength and muscle. I now know what’s important is increasing flexibility, muscle range, opening of the hips and muscle toning! These are all things that will help prepare you for labor.
I wanted to do a quick recap of what working out looked like for me in pregnancy, providing bits of advice along the way that other expecting mommas may find beneficial. However, I want to preface that I debated even posting this blog because I feel like it doesn’t seem to provide much advice, rather it’s just me blabbing on about my pregnancy fitness journey. So, you’ve been warned!
If there is one thing I can encourage it is to do something. Third trimester is NOT easy, but neither is LABOR! And what’s also not easy is postpartum exercise and repairing your body – so take your pick.
EVERY TIME you are proactive about your health during pregnancy you are making life easier for yourself later.
(pre-baby & 27 week comparison)
5:45 AM gym time
Heavy weight lifting, mild cardio/stairmaster
Yoga or Group class 2x/week
I’ve shared my pre-pregnancy fitness standards about balance and tips for cutting back on sugar in some past blogs, feel free to give those a read if you want to really dive in. ( Tips for Cutting Back on Sugar & Getting Down to the Basics of Being Fit)
First Trimester Routine (weeks 0-12):
Lunch or evening gym time
Lighter weight lifting
Yoga or Group class 1x/week
Early-middle first trimester looked pretty similar to the above, except for when I was ridden with great fatigue, which was one of my greatest first trimester symptoms! The early morning workouts became a little less common (especially for the 8-12 week stretch). I also developed diastis recti, splitting of the abdominal muscles. I immediately quit all core exercises. I would suggest anyone to pay close attention to the core work you are doing, it is certainly safe to continue, but is it necessary? If you ask me, pregnancy is not the time to work on your 6-pack, even though a toned core will help in delivery.
Now that I am well into my postpartum fitness journey, I wish I would have taken advice from professionals on exercises to do during pregnancy. I am currently going through the Expecting & Empowered PP guide and I follow them on Instagram… I have learned a TON just from watching their stories. I would seriously consider investing in their guides to help you navigate your fitness routines before and/or after baby.
Second Trimester Routine (weeks 13-27):
4x/ week Total
Lunch or evening gym time
Walking, rowing, and light weights
Aaptiv Maternity program
Barre Class 2x/week
Into the 20 week mark, I started showing a little bit. Workouts moved from 6 days a week to more like 4, and soon 3 times was a “good” week. I still tried to lift and squat like I used to, but the weight started to feel so heavy. I read about how that is from all of the extra blood circulating in the body, also why my heart rate increased much quicker. I eliminated most stairmaster exercise, and stuck to the rowing machine and brisk walks on the treadmill.
What saved me was the maternity program offered through the Aaptiv App (which I’ve talked about using before in previous blogs as part of my regular routine). They offer audio full-body, upper, and lower body workouts. The maternity program bases it off of the week of pregnancy you are in. I didn’t follow it strictly but it helped me know what to do in the gym since I was starting to feel a little out of my element.
I also was introduced to Barre3 in my second trimester. I love it! Everything is body weight, or very light weight with high reps and bits of yoga. Many people suggest it for pregnancy and I would have to agree, it’s amazing. It’s been a great option for staying active. I got to the Barre3 location in Edina, MN and always feel welcomed & able to jump right in. It is not a class to be afraid to go to, none of the exercises are complicated and all of the teachers coach you through things. even other women in the class were kind and warm – which isn’t always the case.
(34 weeks after a Barre3 class)
Third Trimester Routine (28- 41 weeks):
1-3x week Total
Walking and light weight lifting
Gym? What’s that? Lol, just kidding – but it did look a lot different in the last couple months. Cardio was a brisk walk on the treadmill and most arm weighted exercises were 5 lbs or lighter. Any weighted leg exercises were completed using a kettlebell weight held in front or non at all. I got into Barre3 as much as possible as well, but usually 1-2x a week. After 36 weeks, I was lucky if it was once a week.
I recently tuned into a pregnancy podcast all about baby’s position and labor flow – and exercises to prepare baby and body for delivery. This was really fascinating – and even more crazy was that so many of the exercises mentioned that are good for expecting mothers are ones that I did in Barre3, such as reclined seated chair.
The reality is, fitness is pregnancy really will look different for everyone. Many exercises can be challenging and doing chores around the house or taking the dog for a walk are just as valuable. The key here is that doing something is better than nothing.