Exercise During Pregnancy

Great and great news, you are expecting a child! There is no better place in the world. You will soon be able to put a small little miracle into the world. You therefore want to do everything to take care of yourself and your body as well as possible. Movement is of course also part of this. Many people think that you should stop exercising as soon as you are pregnant, but the opposite is actually true. It is even incredibly good for your body to keep training, provided you do a few adjustments. In this article we discuss the benefits of training, which exercises you can perform in the gym and which exercises you can do better.

Benefits Of Fitness During Pregnancy

  • Reduced risk of developing gestational diabetes.
  • Lower risk of developing pregnancy hypertension and pre-eclampsia (combination of pregnancy hypertension and protein loss inurine formerly known as pregnancy poisoning).
  • Reduced risk of premature birth.
  • Reduced risk of excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
  • Shorter delivery.
  • Less low back pain.
  • Increased feeling of overall well-being.
  • Fewer feelings of stress and depression during pregnancy
  • Less chance of the necessity of giving birth by caesarean section and shorter hospitalization
  • Reduced risk of developing overweight or obesity of the child and related disorders during his / her childhood.

Risks Of Fitness During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the joints are less stable and a pregnant woman runs more risk of injury if this is not taken into account. If there are no other “deviating” conditions, you can train safely and it is recommended.


When one or more of the conditions or conditions below occur, it is strongly advised against training or to stop training immediately. If in doubt, consult a doctor first.

The conditions under which you must immediately stop training:

Heart complaints, hypertension / high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, broken membranes, pregnant with multiple or multiple birth, pathologies to the uterus, persistent vaginal bleeding, present placenta, cervical insufficiency (insufficient functioning of the cervix)

The conditions under which you must immediately consult with the doctor

Anemia, heart rhythm disorder, chronic bronchitis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, morbid obesity, extreme underweight (BMI <12), long-term inactive lifestyle, poorly controlled high blood pressure, injuries or limitations to muscles or joints

Strength Training Guidelines

Do not train more than you did before your pregnancy. If you trained 2 or 3 times before your pregnancy, do not suddenly go 5 times a week. What we are dealing with here are general guidelines. For those who did strength training as (top) sport and train more than average, you can deviate from the guidelines, because your body is much more used to it than someone who occasionally does it in addition to other sports. Strength training during pregnancy should furthermore be aimed at maintaining fitness and strength as much as possible and not to become (even) fitter.

3 general guidelines to take into account:

  • Do not perform any sports or activities where falling, becoming unbalanced, or touching the abdomen may occur.
  • Do not train (much) harder or more intensively than you did before the pregnancy.
  • Train two to three times a week on non-consecutive days to enable recovery.

First Trimester

Almost all types of exercises can be done as long as the general guidelines are taken into account.


  • Chest (pushing): Machine Chest Press, Dumbbell Press
  • Back (pull): Seated Row, Dumbbell Row, Barbell Row, Pulley Row
  • Shoulders (Push up): Dumbbell shoulder press, Machine Shoulder Press
  • Back (pull down): Lat Pulldown, Machine Vertical Traction
  • Abdominal muscles: Plank
  • Oblique abs: Lateral Plank
  • Legs: (Dumbbell) Squat, Leg Press

Intensity: make 2-3 series of 12-15 repetitions at 70% of the 1RM  or a weight that could make you 12-15 repetitions.

Second And Third Trimester

Do not perform horizontal exercises. For example, it may be necessary to replace a dumbbell chest press with a chest press machine.

Do not perform exercises where the thighs are brought against the abdomen and the back is curved (does not only apply to pregnant women).

Do not perform exercises that require lifting a load above the head due to the load on the spine and reduced stability.


  • Chest (pushing): Machine Chest Press
  • Back (pull): Seated Row, Pulley Row
  • Shoulders (Lifting): Dumbbell Side Raise
  • Back (pull down): Lat Pulldown, Machine Vertical Traction
  • Abdominal muscles: Plank
  • Oblique abs: Lateral Plank
  • Legs: (Dumbbell) Squat, Leg Press if belly is not in the way, Leg Extension and Leg Curl.

Intensity: make 1-3 series of 12-15 repetitions at 70% of the 1RM  or a weight that you could use to make 12-15 repetitions.

Exercises That You Better Avoid During Pregnancy:

  • Plyometric exercises : Due to the less stable joints and more elastic ligaments, performing explosive movements is strongly discouraged. The risk of injuries and the risk of falling is too high.
  • Adductor machine: The adductor machine (and to a lesser extent the abductor machine) are already relatively unnatural movements, but during pregnancy the forces on the symphysis pubic (place where the two pelvic halves meet) can become very large and due to the weaker ligaments come loose or loose. This can cause pelvic instability and other pain complaints. These exercises do not add much when you perform a good (dumbbell) squat or leg press.

 1RM: One rep maximum (1RM) for strength training, means the maximum amount of weight that one can lift, with one repetition for a certain exercise.

 Plyometric exercises: Plyometry is an explosive form of training. In a plyometric exercise, a muscle is loaded by first extending the muscle, after which the muscle is immediately shortened as forcefully as possible. examples: Jump squats, box jumps, press and clean, a whole lot of cross fit and HIIT exercises.

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