Learn the best ways to stay fit during the first trimester! Exercising in the first trimester of pregnancy can have a lot of benefits. Use these guidelines & tips to begin being active in pregnancy and learn more about which pregnancy workouts are safe.
The first trimester of pregnancy normally isn't one where you're feeling your best. And you may be struggling to work out or figure out what you're allowed to be doing. Use these guidelines to get your workouts in during the first trimester and stay fit.
It's filled with questions, revolving sickness, energy spikes, and lulls, and just sheer insanity.
You're tired and crabby and excited and overwhelmed (this first trimester checklist helps you get organized though!).
But, you may also be thinking about how to keep exercising in the first trimester and the best way to maintain your fitness or boost your health.
My Experience In The First trimester Of Pregnancy
I am a very routine-oriented person. And thus, the first trimester is pretty much my crypt tonight.
While I didn't physically vomit with any of my pregnancies, the energy dips and all-out feel like sh*t feeling deterred my workouts. However, I did muster through, I stuck to a schedule and I felt better when I moved.
However, this may not be you. Pushing through isn't right for everyone AND THAT'S OKAY.
The Biggest Tips On Staying Fit During Pregnancy
Before we delve into specifics, know this: each and every pregnancy is different, and each and every week is different. you'll need to adjust, change the game plan and embrace how you're feeling.Now is not the time to be a badass, to think of "belly only" pregnancies, to focus on looking lean or to push through at all costs.
As a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, I can tell you that your fitness goals during pregnancy should revolve around:
- working out to reduce pregnancy symptoms
- staying fit enough to keep up with other littles you have
- preparing for labor and postpartum
- generally feeling good and enjoying movement
- keeping postural muscles strong
Is It Safe To Exercise In The First Trimester?
Yes! Moving your body while pregnant is completely safe and of course, first trimester fitness comes with the benefits listed above.
While it may seem, and feel, like the perfect time to be lazy, movement can actually help alleviate a lot of pregnancy symptoms.
And contrary to an old-school belief, exercising in the first trimester has not been shown to cause miscarriage.
However, there are a few considerations you'll want to take note of when it comes to exercising when pregnant. Meaning, you will need to modify your training programs.
These safe ab exercises for pregnancy work pretty well throughout though.
The Biggest Tip To Exercising In The First Trimester
So let's be clear on the biggest, most important thing you can do in the first trimester: survive. Yup, seriously. That's my big advice. The first trimester in pregnancy is literally all about survival.
This means if you need to rest, do it. If you can't fathom working out because you'll spew everywhere: don't. If you can only eat tomato and cheese toasted sandwiches: do it.
Literally, focus on doing what - and anything- you can do before you focus on anything else.
Finding A Time Of Day That Works Best
I love morning workouts but during the first trimester of pregnancy, they weren't always a win for me because I was so dizzy. And so I rolled with. I ended up working out during whichever bouts of the day I felt good.
Normally, there was a two-hour window between 9-11 am in which my energy was decent and I was ready to rock.
And of course, those two hours changed week by week so my schedule changed with it. On top of that, I wasn't as fueled as I normally was so the workouts I was doing obviously needed to be scaled back.
Go with the flow. Don't force your workout time if you're not feeling so hot. Spend some time finding a bit of a pattern of when you have thirty minutes that feels okay and try then.
Don't start any high impact activities during the first trimester of pregnancy
If you were previously doing high-impact activities it's up to you if you continue. The general rule is that you can continue what you were doing before you got pregnant during the first trimester.
However, I personally advise many of my clients to switch over to a more low-impact option.
As you progress, your body still has a bit more difficulty controlling your landings/jumps since ligaments are starting to stretch. This makes it harder for your hips to stay in the proper position.
Remember, the goal of being fit during pregnancy isn't continuing with your intense workouts to show what a badass you are. it's about feeling good and preparing for postpartum. Box jumps don't really factor into that.
Exercises To Avoid
Typically you want to avoid any exercise in which you can fall or crash. This applies to all trimetsers and not just the first. Avoid exercises like:
- horseback riding
- rock climbing
- ice skating
If You Weren't Active Prior To Being Pregnant
If you previously were not active but want to do something during your first trimester of pregnancy, below are some great options to get you started:
- walking or hiking
- light strength training (resistance bands are amazing for this as they're low impact- use code mamabearfit)
You can peep my Youtube Channel for a full list of low-impact, follow-along pregnancy workouts.
Listen To Your Body
I know that this sounds like crap advice for first trimeser fitness but unfortunately, I've found it to be more true than anything. For myself especially, some days in the first trimester I still felt great lifting heavy. I had energy, I could push it a bit and I felt good.
Other days, lunges bugged my hips and I couldn't get my breath in carries. On those days I switched up my routines and rocked something different.
Being active throughout your pregnancy is amazing but you do need to learn to tweak things as you go along.
Take it day by day, rest when you're breathless, and adjust where you need to.
Monitor & Adjust Your Intensity
The word intensity is misleading. For most people, it means go hard with sprints and be sweaty and dripping. That's how you judge a workout. But it's far from the truth.
Intensity can be:
- the amount of weight you're lifting (heavier is more intense to your central nervous system)
- high volume workout with lots of sets and reps
- plyometrics or intervals
Intensity is something you need to keep an eye on and adjust. For the majority of people the intensity of your workouts in pregnancy decreases. Or the workout becomes intense in different ways.
In the first trimester of pregnancy especially, your intensity will vary day to day based on how you're body feels. There's a lot of hormones surging so don't force yourself.
Maybe you do a few less reps or sets when you're feeling a bit more tired (or nauseous!) one day. Or perhaps you swap a lifting workout for a pilates one. Regardless, find what works for you and adjust as necessary.
The goal of pregnancy isn't t be intense and smash results. It's to remain active and comfortable throughout it.
Make Sure You Can Breathe
Again, this sounds like obvious advice. But given our definition of intense is often breathless and sweaty most people need to address this. Throughout your workouts, while pregnant you should be able to hold a conversation.
You shouldn't be gasping, begging for breath. If you're struggling to breathe that much, so is the baby. Instead, take a few more rests and adjust a position. Keep control of your breath.
What Exercises To Focus On During The First Trimester Of Pregnancy
First and foremost, focus on whatever you can do and that feels good.
For my clients, I place extra emphasis on postural muscles and muscles that, when strong, will help alleviate some pregnancy symptoms (upper back, back of the legs etc).
I also like the emphasize the glutes. Not just in the first trimester of pregnancy but throughout pregnancy. The glutes help supper the pelvic floor, the back, and your body in general. They help immensely during the postpartum period.
Strong glutes are key. This podcast covers exactly why glutes are so important in pregnancy and how they help prevent postpartum back pain.
There are a lot of exercises you can rock during pregnancy but during the first trimester a few favorites are:
- Face Pulls
- Hip Hinges
- Glute Bridges/Hip Thrusts
You can most definitely stay active in your first trimester of pregnancy but it takes some forethought. I personally maintained a five-day workout split but two of those days became much lighter than normal.
Part of your workout regime in the first trimester will be determined by your previous fitness level. If you're still in doubt, please please please contact a qualified trainer to help set you on the right path.
Can You Do Sit-Ups In The 1st Trimester?
While sit-ups or crunches in the first trimester are typically okay, there are so many better core exercises!
Normally, you'll remove traditional ab exercises like sit-ups later in your pregnancy as your belly expands. However, to begin training your core and not just your "abs" work in exercises like:
You may not be able to rock the same routine you always have but you can definitely stay active on those initial thirteen weeks. Remember though, the first rule of exercising in the first trimester is survival: so rock that first 😉
And for when you need it, don't forget to check out how to stay fit in the second trimester of pregnancy as well as the third trimester. I also have a few great workouts for when you're feeling your best. And if you haven't already, check out my belly butter recipe. I used it with both my pregnancies for stretch marks and I swear by it.