Making Prenatal Modifications to Your Workouts

Home / Baby / Making Prenatal Modifications to Your Workouts

Making Prenatal Modifications to Your Workouts

In Baby

Hi there!  How’s your week going?  I’m nearing the end of my 23rd week today (24 starts tomorrow!) and I feel like I have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t work in terms of prenatal exercise.  While I LOVE all of my prenatal DVDs made specifically for preggo ladies, I do still miss some of my pre-pregnancy workouts.  Luckily I haven’t had to give them all up!  I have already mentioned in a previous post my favorite prenatal workouts, well today I’m going to tell you how I’ve been making prenatal modifications to make them work for my growing belly.* 

preggo pump.jpg


I love love love Zumba and the great thing is that it can be so easily modified for pregnancy.  Zumba generally does not involve a lot of jumping like other forms of cardio.  You typically will always have at least one foot on the ground.  In the event a class does offer a jumping option, its simple to just take this option out.  For example, maybe you’ll do a grapevine with a jump at the end.  Rather than doing the jump, just march in place.  


Zumba does involve a lot of hip shaking, body rolling and generally letting loose.  Not all pregnant women feel comfortable doing this.  Personally, I think Baby B likes it (he can actually hear music and feel me dance now!).  But I also have a dance background and my body is accustomed to moving this way.  If you don’t feel comfortable with all the hip shaking and booty popping, simple pull back on the moves.  By this I mean, rather than go crazy with your shakes, just do small range of motion “baby” shakes.  You’ll feel more comfortable but still get the fun benefits from the class.


There are so many great prenatal barre classes out there so you may not feel like you need to attend a regular class, but if you’re like me, sometimes the regular classes are offered at better times making them a more attractive option.  Not to worry!  Barre classes are one of my favorite prenatal exercises and they are so easily modified for pregnant women.  Most barre classes typically have an arm, leg, seat and ab section with stretching sprinkled in there. Generally, not many modifications need to be made to the arm, leg and seat section.  Most of the moves you could do prior to pregnancy are still ok.  Some good rules of thumb though are to go at your own pace, take breaks as you need to and decrease the range of motion if you feel like you are overexerting yourself.

preggo barre 4
The ab section is really where the most modifications need to be made.  Because pregnant women should not lie flat on their back after their first trimester, all abdominal moves should be done on a wedge or pillows (2-3).  Also, crunching and traditional situps are not recommended for pregnant women, instead static holds and working the deep pelvic muscles are better options.  You can check with your instructor on modifications but a few ab moves I love include:

preggo barreThe Modified Hundred 

preggo barre 2

Oblique Twist 

preggo barre 3

 Leg Drops

BodyPump (Weights)

I love BodyPump as my go-to weights workout but you could apply these general principles to your favorite weights workout.  First of all, I dropped my weights down a little.  The recommendation for pregnant ladies is to try and maintain your weights but not increase.  For some tracks I have been able to maintain my pre-pregnancy weights (for example, I still use 5lb weights for biceps and triceps) but for other tracks, I find a little less is better for me (I dropped to 12 lbs instead of 15 lbs for squats).  You may need to adjust your weights the farther along you get in your pregnancy.

preggo pump 2Most of the standing exercises don’t require too much modification, however, a few key points to remember are to keep a wide stance for a better support base.  Although your feet might normally be hip width for an exercise, you may want to consider taking them slightly wider to create more stability.  Additionally, for the lunge track, a squat stance is always an option if the lunges make you feel too unstable. 

 preggo pump 6

Because BodyPump uses a barbell, I’ve found that using the plates or handweights sometimes works better so the equipment doesn’t get in the way of my belly (or vice versa!).  This is especially useful for the back track with the clean and press move and upright row moves.

preggo pump 5 For all the tracks lying on your back, I normally use a step with risers.  To modify for pregnancy, I simply put my risers on only one side of the step creating an incline bench. This prevents me from lying flat on my back but allows me to continue with those tracks.  If you don’t use a step, I recommend creating an incline in a different manner, either with pillows or a bolster. 

preggo pump 3

The ab tracks are usually not pregnancy-friendly.  I sometimes choose to skip that track or I’ll spend some time doing a few favorite moves like the plank or some of the above core moves.  


Tennis is one of those activities that you should be careful about when you are pregnant.  I played a lot before I was pregnant so I don’t have any problems continuing to play while pregnant, but it is not a sport I would recommend picking up for the first time when you are pregnant.  Also, choose your partner carefully!  I play with the Hubs who knows to take it easy on me and not whip balls at me.  We’ve begged off playing with other couples several times because I am concerned they may not understand the rules of pregnant play! 🙂

tennis wareham A few simple things to keep in mind when playing tennis while pregnant:

  • Warm up properly.  We always start with mini tennis (playing close to the net with light hits) and gradually move back.  This ensure that we are warm and ready to go before we start play.
  • Be careful stop/starting.  Tennis requires a lot of agility.  Just make sure you are wearing proper foot wear and don’t strain yourself going after balls.
  • Allow for a second bounce.  We have a rule that if the ball bounces before the service line, I get two bounces. J  These days I’m not running up to the net.
  • Take breaks.  I wear a heart rate monitor so I always know what my heart rate range is.  If I need to, I take a water break so as not to overexert myself.
  • Practice your strokes.  While playing a full-on game might be tough when your pregnant, working on your technique and strokes is actually very doable and I highly recommend it!

Readers, have you ever had to modify your workouts?   

*All information contained in this post is based on my own experiences.  You should check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.  Additionally, you should talk to him or her about making modifications to suit your particular needs.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt