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Best safe and effective pregnancy workouts

Check out my favorite pregnancy exercises which are not only safe, but will keep you strong and healthy before the big day!

Pregnancy can be a challenging time for soon-to-be-moms, especially when it comes to staying active and maintaining a healthy weight. I know from experience! But with a few modifications, you can still get in a great workout and support the health of you and your baby. And the workouts don't need to be super basic and boring - contrary to what some might say, you can get in a pretty vigorous workout while pregnant.

Remember, it's always best to consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine during pregnancy. They can give you personalized advice on what exercises are safe for you and your baby and make any necessary modifications based on your individual needs.

Strength training exercises

Strength training can be a safe and effective option during pregnancy. Pregnant or not, strength training is my favorite type of workout compared with cardio and toning, although I do all three. Remember to do a good warm up and stretch before you get started so you're not working out on warm muscles - we definitely don't want to risk injury while pregnant!

Here is a full-body strength training circuit I do often that covers both the upper body and the lower body. I will typically do 8-12 reps of each exercise depending on the amount of weight I'm using and will do one or two sets depending on how much time I have.

Lower Body

Squats: Squats can help strengthen your legs, glutes, and lower back, which can be beneficial during childbirth. Make sure to keep your back straight and your knees behind your toes. You can stay close to a wall or hold onto a chair for balance, if needed.

Lunges: Lunges are a great way to work the muscles in your legs and improve overall lower body strength. To perform a lunge, stand with your feet hip-width apart, then take a large step forward with one foot. Lower your body until your front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle and your back knee is hovering above the ground. Push off your front foot to return to the starting position, then repeat on the other side. It's important to keep your movements controlled and to avoid any sudden, explosive movements that could be stressful on your joints.

Upper Body

Bicep Curls: Bicep curls can help strengthen your arms, which you will definitely need for carrying around your baby after birth! You can use dumbbells or resistance bands to perform this exercise. Just make sure to keep your back straight and avoid straining your neck.

Shoulder Press: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a weight in each hand. Bring the weights up to your shoulders, then press them overhead. Lower the weights back down to your shoulders, then repeat.

Tricep Dips: Find a sturdy chair or bench and place your hands on it, with your fingers pointing forward. You can also do these on the ground if you don't have a chair or bench available. Lower your body down towards the ground, keeping your elbows close to your sides, then push back up to the starting position. If you are comfortable you can also alternate lifting each leg in the air if you want to take this exercise to the next level.

For all these exercises, it's important to use proper form and start with a light weight to avoid straining your back or neck. Since your center of gravity is displaced while pregnant, particularly as you get into your second and third trimesters, easing in with lower weights is best so you can ensure that you feel steady and balanced before increasing to heavier weights, if you choose to. As always, listen to your body and consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise during pregnancy.

Low impact cardio

Low impact cardio exercises are perfect to include at any point during your pregnancy since they're safe for any trimester. They're also a great way to warm up before moving onto more intense exercises.

Here are three effective low-impact cardio exercises that I enjoy most during pregnancy:

Walking: Walking is a low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints and can be done almost anywhere. It's a great way to get moving, increase circulation, and improve your overall health. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and stay hydrated, especially in warmer weather if you're walking outside. If you're walking on a treadmill, use the incline to build more muscle in your legs, particularly your quads, hamstrings and glutes. I have a walking pad that I keep behind my desk making it super convenient for taking "walking breaks" during the work day especially in the winter when I'm less inclined to walk outside.

Swimming: Swimming is a great workout option during pregnancy because the water provides buoyancy and reduces stress on the joints. This makes it an ideal choice for soon-to-be moms who experience discomfort or joint pain. Swimming can also improve cardiovascular health and help strengthen muscles. I didn't get a chance to swim as much as I wanted to while I was pregnant but it's always so much fun (pregnant or not!) and is a great way to stay active especially later in pregnancy.

Yoga: Yoga is a gentle, low-impact form of exercise that can help reduce stress, increase flexibility, and improve balance. I did a ton of yoga while I was pregnant especially during the last trimester. Just make sure to listen to your body and avoid any poses that cause discomfort. Also, keep in mind that you're centre of gravity will be off when you're pregnant so choose your poses carefully. I always stand by a wall or something I could grab onto if I was unsure about my balance. Or I would just do an altogether different pose that I felt more comfortable with.

More intensive cardio exercises

While pregnancy is a time to be cautious with exercise, there are still a few cardio workouts that can be considered safe and effective especially if you were active prior to pregnancy. Here are three intensive cardio workouts to consider if you have access to a gym with the available equipment or if you happen to have the equipment at home.

Elliptical Trainer: Using an elliptical trainer can be a great way to get your heart rate up and improve cardiovascular health without putting too much stress on your joints. Start with a low resistance and a comfortable pace, and gradually increase the intensity as you feel comfortable. You can also use the moving handles to work your arms and upper body.

Stationary Bike: Cycling on a stationary bike can be a great way to get your heart rate up and improve cardiovascular health. Just make sure to adjust the resistance and keep your pace comfortable and sustainable.

Rowing Machine: Rowing can be a great full-body workout that can improve cardiovascular health and strength. Make sure to sit up straight to avoid straining your back or neck.

Once you're done your workout, remember to cool down and stretch to avoid injury (stretching is crucial both before and after a workout). It's important to listen to your body and avoid any activities that cause discomfort or pain. As always, consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine during pregnancy. While the above exercises can be safe for most women, others may not be able to tolerate them. Always listen to your body and prioritize your comfort and safety.

Stay active, stay healthy, and enjoy your pregnancy journey!

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