training during pregnancy

Training During Pregnancy

Hurrah you’re pregnant. But what does that mean for your training routine. Can you still work out and to what level? Training during pregnancy can be a minefield, but it doesn’t have to be.

No matter how far along you are I’m sure you have been given countless pieces of advice. From your family to the woman beside you on the bus. Everyone has an opinion. Some people say eat for two. Others say to watch your diet. Some say it’s important to work out as you train for labour. Others say it’s more important to conserve energy. So what opinion is the right one?

First the facts

Firstly, studies suggest that regular exercise in healthy pregnant women seems to increase the likelihood of a vaginal birth. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that structured physical exercise during pregnancy reduces the risk of C section. Similarly, a review of research published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica concluded that regular low-to-moderate levels of physical activity increase the likelihood of a vaginal delivery.

The general guidelines for exercise in pregnancy suggest at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity. That’s just over 20 minutes of exercise a day with a combination of strength training and cardiovascular activities encouraged.

A moderate intensity workout in trimester 2 can be as simple as:

  • Glute bridge x 10
  • Slow mountain climbers x 10
  • Lateral lunges x 10
  • Standing banded rows x 10
  • Resting 30 – 60 seconds and repeating 2-3 times.

I recommend doing a full-body strength training routine two to three days per week throughout pregnancy. This will not only help you maintain (or gain) muscle mass, it also allows you enough flexibility to safely incorporate exercise into your week, and gives your body adequately rest and recovery between sessions.

If you already train

If you were exercising before pregnancy, you can keep doing it. However, going for personal bests or continuing to lift heavy might not be the best idea. You can still squat and deadlift in pregnancy but try reducing the weight for comfort. That being said, even if you are an experienced lifter, wouldn’t suggest doing heavy deadlifts or squats in the third trimester. When you begin to notice your belly is less supported and perhaps bulging out during these exercises it’s time to stop. The goal is to minimize the severity of diastasis recti and to not induce further pressure on the pelvic floor.

It is also safe to lie on your back after the first trimester. Research is now supporting the understanding that you’re doing no harm to baby by doing some exercises on your back. Unless you feel nauseous, light headed or have trouble breathing you are probably OK to do a few reps. Of course as your bump grows it might no longer feel comfortable.

So, is it safe to exercise while pregnant?

Yes! Exercising has a host of benefits that we are already aware of. For all our pregnant mammas out there, exercising particularly strength training, can help you to maintain muscle mass, limit pregnancy weight gain, decrease chances of a C-section and thus promotes post-natal recovery.  My biggest piece of advice is little and often but be mindful with your body and the intensity and always consult your doctor first.


Martina Dunne is a certified personal trainer who specialises in pre and post natal coaching and small group fitness sessions with a love for health and fitness. For more information visit fromthetinyflat