Strength Training During Pregnancy: My 1st and 2nd trimester


I have always heard the advice to just keep doing what you are already doing when it comes to exercise for the first few months of pregnancy.  That is the most common advice given from popular books, Dr.’s, and the random person I run into chatting about exercise and working out.

Funny thing. About 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant (and I found out pretty early at about 4 weeks) I just sensed something was different in my body. I slowed the intensity. I didn’t want to lift as heavy. I pulled back most exercises with impact. My goals and focus changed.

All the opposite of what I thought I would do being a fitness trainer and enthusiast, and after following women who kept the intensity and lifting up at their CrossFit workouts and such.

Today I am going to share my workouts for my first and second trimester so far. Keep in mind that every women’s body and pregnancy is different. Some women are not recommended to exercise, some like to push the limits a little further, some like to find the middle ground. Always check with your doctor to decide what is best with you.

The first trimester.

I really wished I could have shared with you in real time how I felt during the first trimester. My body decided to skip getting really sick every day but I sure felt nauseated and exhausted for a solid 8 weeks.

It was that in between place where I felt the tug of war in my head like I could and should workout but at the same time I felt like I just wanted to skip any exercise all together.

Here is what I did. I eliminated any type of running (not like I did much anyways), jumping, or exercises that got my heart rate up because the intensity, impact and/or bounce made me feel even sicker.

I did 2 or 3 weight training sessions a week, full body, with tons of rest in between each exercise. Some days it was only 3 sets of 3 exercises total. Like a squat, a row, and an incline push-up.

Other days it was a few more. Moving my body other than walking was an accomplishment in itself and most of the time it did make me feel better. I learned to let good enough, just be good enough for the time being.

Here I am at 20 weeks.

Once mid April hit, I started to have more good days than bad days. My nausea reduced. My normal appetite returned.

For the past few weeks of my 2nd trimester I have been continuing with weight training and walking and feel good enough to add a few short local hikes in.

I am resting less during exercises so my heart rate gets up more and this is what I consider, and have always consisted, my cardio. I still do full body workouts but I don’t schedule the days. I just go by how I feel and that has usually been 3-4 workouts a week. I walk Lulu almost every single day even if it is a short one.

My exercise selection has started to change. I can feel a “pull” on my abdomen rolling up from a seated position. I eliminated pull ups and any heavy overhead lifts right away and now even on lat pulldowns I can feel a little stretch which I am trying to avoid.

My goal for training has shifted more from pure strength and aesthetics to creating a healthy body for baby, staying strong for labor and delivery, and recovering postpartum.

I also want to keep the tissue of my abdomen healthy and am avoiding things like crutches, rotations, full front planks and full push-up because of the pressure it puts on that region. And because why? There are much better ways to train the core during pregnancy than those types of exercises.

Final thoughts.

It has been a mental shift for sure seeing and feeling the changes in my body. I have always had an active lifestyle and it has become a part of my identity in a way. It is part of my routine, part of my career and part of what I love to do. I have worked hard over the years not to let it define my worth and incorporate into my life into a way that enhances my life. And it has.

Having to back off was tough for me but also a reality check. My body is changing. My life is changing. I have shifted my mindset to simply do my best and keep it going, safely and sanely, and let my body respond as it will.

Until next time.

I have created a special email list on pre natal (and post natal) fitness, eating, and life, and my journey through it all which you can access here. I promise not to bombard your inbox, but just wanted to have a space to share more of my workouts, thoughts, fears, and excitement through it all.

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