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Pregnancy Modifications

Before, during and after pregnancy and the birth of your child, you will hear many “recommendations” from friends, family and medical staff… Much of which should be taken with a grain of salt…

We get loads of questions about training and exercise through pregnancy and even more about getting “back in shape” after you have a baby… We have coaches who trained through pregnancies, dozens of members who trained with us while pregnant and even more who have come to us postpartum.

We use all of our experience and training, as well as research and good old common sense to help moms and moms-to-be, intelligently manage their fitness through their pregnancy and after… Let’s start with the end in mind! 

As a rule of thumb, if you were working out before your pregnancy, as long as it is an uncomplicated “healthy” pregnancy, you can safely continue to do so.


Pregnancy changes in body to be aware of:

Increased hormone relaxin after second trimester = increased vulnerablility to injury
(ie. Able to go lower in a squat than they previously were able to).

Increased blood volume and heart rate, making them more prone to being lightheaded.

After four months or so, lying supine (on your back) for too long will put pressure on the vena cava and therefore reduce bloodflow to the baby and may make the mom very dizzy – this does not happen to all pregnant women, but happens to a large number of them.

Women must monitor their own rate of perceived exertion – they should be able to answer with a sentence rather than one word while working out in order to prevent decreased oxygen to their baby.

Women must ensure they are staying hydrated (especially in the summer during their workouts).

The biggest thing to remember is to listen to your body during workouts – if it feels uncomfortable or “wrong” at any time, stop or modify.


Pregnant women should perform caution or think about modifying the following exercises:

Rope Climbs
Handstand Push-ups
Max Effort Lifts

(These movements all have an increased risk of injury associated with them.)

Hollow Rocks

(These movements all have an increased risk of diastasis postpartum.)


First Trimester: (up to 12 weeks)

Most women are able to do most movements during this time with minimal modifications.

Exercise at a level of exertion of 7/10.

If a 1RM is programmed, it is advisable to perform a 2-3 rep set instead.

Perform Burpees with parallettes instead of full Burpees to the ground.

Second & Third Trimester

The pelvis is becoming very anteriorly tilted to accommodate the shift in their center of gravity, so deep squats will have a tendency to REALLY cause a butt wink.

Squat to 90 degrees or higher (whatever it takes to NOT butt wink), ESPECIALLY if lower back pain is X.

Reinforce the posterior pelvic tilt with them before any squat movement, especially the heavier, more controlled squats (per Ashley Lowe)




Supine Movements

Bench Press

Discontinue if causes dizziness

Elevated Push-up

Abdominal Exercises (Situp, V-up, Hollow Rock or Hold)

Glute Bridge or Side Plank


Side Plank

Handstand Push-up

Dumbbell or Barbell Press

Box Jump

Lower Box and/or Step up: center of balance is off during pregnancy, risk of injury is higher

Kipping and/or Strict Pullups

If causes discomfort, sub for Ring Row.

Kettlebell Swing

If causes discomfort or belly is in the way, modify to Single-Arm Swing


Hang Power Snatch/Clean (Squat variation is a risk due to the relaxin hormone and dropping into the squat – could “ride the squat down” as a sub until this is too difficult)

When belly is in the way switch to Dumbbell version or sub for moderate weighted deadlift

WBS & Thrusters

Controlled squat with press.


Elevated Push-ups (don’t want to be in a plank position)


Burpees to Parallettes

Jump Rope, Rowing, Running

Safe to do until uncomfortable.


Safe to do until uncomfortable.

Kettlebell Deadlift is a great sub 


Hanging Knee Raise - slow and under control (increased risk if falling off of bar).

Squat (all forms)

Do not go much further below 90 degrees with moderate to high loads. Emphasize posterior pelvic tilt.  Full range of motion (butt to ankles) Air Squats and holds are great to help prepare for delivery.



Resume regular exercise when advised from doctor.

It is Important to ease back into training – start VERY light (lighter than you think) (some recommendations are to limit extremely heavy lifts until at least 4 months postpartum).

Abdominal and pelvic floor muscles are still healing.

Common issues postpartum: diastasis recti (abdominal separation), bladder issues during jumping exercises, pelvic prolapse (extreme).

Relaxin is still present, so injuries are still a potential
(possibly up to 10 months postpartum).

NO abdominal exercises for 4-6 months postpartum – see pregnancy subs.

Talk to our Coaches regularly :).

For more detailed information about Postpartum exercise,
read our article: POSTPARTUM EXERCISE



Group Class Programming for Wednesday, May 3, 2017:

1. Trebel Warm-up

2. Push Press 1-1-1-1-1-1-1
*hold for 10 seconds at PP4 for sets 1-5
*return barbell to floor (do not drop) for sets 1-5
*perform Handstand Hold or Down Dog Hold for 30s after each set
*perform Table Rocks for 30s after every set

3. 3x800 meter Run
*runs performed every 7 minutes
*perform all Runs <3:30 (shorten distance if unable to consistently run <3::30) 
*Aim for negative splits on each Run, and aim to keep Runs within :05 of each other



Related Articles:
How I Fixed My Back Pain
Postpartum Exercise
Dealing with Depression