Stay active and prepare for labor and the postpartum period with this third trimester strength workout! In this final trimester of pregnancy, learn how to exercise safely and which exercises are best.
As a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and a mom of three, I can tell you that workouts in your third trimester are hard.
Between the weight gain (I've always gained the most weight in third trimester), swelling, tiredness, general cramping, and ugh feeling (yes, that's a feeling), exercise in the third trimester seems to be pretty irrelevant.
But now is when you need activity the most. Focus on exercises that:
- Are low impact
- Feel good when you're doing them
- That support the pelvic floor and back of the body
- Can be done with just bodyweight, dumbbells or resistance bands.
Use this pregnancy-safe workout to help relieve stress and give comfort to your body.
Do You Need To Work Out During The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy?
Your body is quite literally preparing for labor. This means that it is getting ready to rock one of the most challenging scenarios it could ever encompass. Would you run a marathon without having trained for it? Probably not.
Note: please don't start training as if you're going to run a marathon (HA)
So if ever there was a reason to stay active while pregnant, this is it! The more prepped your body is, the stronger your body is, the better your recovery will be (in theory, everything in pregnancy is in theory).
This isn't to say that you need to work out like you're giving birth every day (please don't, that doesn't sound remotely safe). Exercise for third trimester of pregnancy should be centered around being active.
The Goal Of Exercise In The Third Trimester
When working out during the third trimester of pregnancy (or any trimester) the goal should not be to lose weight, maintain weight or show off what a badass you can be.
Instead, focus on:
- Strengthening the postural muscles
- Supporting your pelvic floor
- Reducing pregnancy discomforts
- Preparing your body for postpartum recovery
There's a lot you can do fitness-wise to strive for the above goals. And more often than not, I think that you should focus on movement and not exactly workouts.
Pregnancy Safe Strength Workout For The 3rd Trimester
Working out in the third trimester is a bit different for every woman (learn more below).
Below is an idea of what an advanced pregancy workout looked like for me at 33 weeks pregnant.
|Banded Goblet Squat||10 repetitions|
|TRX Low Row or Bentover Band Row||10 repetitions|
|Modified Side Plank||x 20 seconds/side|
|Rest as long as you need to||x 3 sets|
|Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift||10|
|1 Arm Dumbbell Row||10/arm|
|Mini Loop Sumo Walk||x 30 seconds|
|Rest as long as you need to||x 2-3 sets|
Perform the first three exercises back to back for the repetitions listed. Rest for as long as you need to. Then, repeat the sequence for a total of three times through. Afterward, move on to the next three exercises.
Here is another great third trimester workout and below is a prenatal workout I filmed while 34 weeks pregnant.
Adjusting Your Exercise In The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy
Just like the other trimesters, there are lots of pregnancy-safe exercises. However much of the exercises depend on your previous fitness level and of course how your pregnancy is progressing. There are a few areas I think all mamas should focus on but below are a few reminders:
- you'll need to adjust the intensity of your workouts (frequency, duration, reps etc)
- find something that FEELS GOOD, now isn't the time to "push through"
This could be as simple as making sure you go for a walk every day. It could be that workouts are a bit shorter, a bit lighter on the weights and have a few more (cough cough, lots more) rest times.
My personal advice though would be that if you're not able or comfortable doing much, focus on your hips and glutes with low-impact, anywhere exercises. This area is one of the most important ones you'll want strong when it comes to postpartum.
Frequency Of Workouts During Third Trimester Of Pregnancy
This is very dependent on how you feel during your pregnancy and what kinds of workouts you can do. If you can complete three strength-based workouts (using resistance bands) each week and focus on walking you are kicking butt.
However, not everyone is up for actual workouts during the third trimester of pregnancy. In that case, find movement you enjoy (walking, modified yoga etc) and aim to move every day to keep your muscles healthy.
There are no perfect rules in pregnancy so do what you can and what feels good.
Tips For Working Out In The Third Trimester
First and foremost, check with your doc. Always! It would also be beneficial to check in with a pelvic floor physio and learn more about your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor takes a beating in pregnancy and what it needs is support- not more stress.
Prenatal massage and osteopathy an also help greatly during pregnancy to relieve a lot of the discomforts caused by weight gain and postural change.
Below are the biggest ways to both support your pregnancy as well as stay fit and adapt during the third trimester. Remember, it's not easy (third trimester of pregnancy is never easy) but staying active can definitely help.
Workout In The Morning
If at all possible, work out earlier in the morning before your day wears you down. Personally, Try to find 20-30 minutes to be active in the am it'll be well worth it.
Also, if you're rocking a summer pregnancy (here are tips to stay cool!), you tend to be less swollen in the morning making exercise during the third trimester more comfortable and practical.
You're growing a baby so take it easy! Instead, rest when need it throughout reps and sets and be careful pushing yourself. Make sure you're able to hold a conversation (read: breath normally) throughout most of your workout.
Take breaks, drink water, and basically have common sense (need help on the water-front? Here's 10 easy to implement tips to drink more!). Your goal is to do something beneficial for your body not to cause you and the babe more stress.
Focus on Small Muscle Groups
If you're feeling extra tired, focus more on smaller muscle groups and exercises (like tricep extensions) and not big movements like squats and presses.
Your hips and stabilizers, in general, should be targeted (check out the best pregnancy hip exercises) as they're also pelvic floor exercises.. From there's I'd say focus on the shoulders and the arms- you'll be holding a heavy babe soon!
Not only is working the smaller muscle groups helpful in terms of labor prep but it also helps because they're less intense for you to perform. Take it slow, ensure you're contracting the actual muscle and reap the rewards of isolation training.
Work The Back Of The Body
This is something you should do always. ALWAYS. But even more so in pregnancy and during third trimester workouts. Obviously, by now your center of gravity has changed due to your expanding belly and it only gets more difficult constantly holding a newborn!
Pay specific attention to the hamstrings, glutes, and upper back muscles (the posterior chain exercises). to help relieve any postural pain and prepare you for post-birth.
Don't Push Yourself
Toward the end of your third trimester it's not necessary. Take it slow, aim for smaller movements, and while your muscles should feel worked it should be in a good way.
If you're excessively sore, breathless, or fatigued you're pushing too hard. Scale back- you need that energy for labor!
Avoid Most Front Loaded Exercises
As your baby grows so does your belly (what?! Really??). This means there's excessive strain placed upon the tissues connecting your abs. Instead of training and straining those tissues more, opt to give them a lending hand.
In a prone position (like a plank) you belly is hanging down and gravity is pulling it. This creates a lot of pressure on muscles and tissues that are already working hard!
While some women don't have issues with this strain, most do. So if you notice a lack of control through the midsection with exercises like push-ups, planks, anything suspended you should avoid them.
Instead, take lower-level options like wall or bench push-ups, bird dogs or these pregnancy-safe ab exercises.
Other Tips To Stay Safe & Active While Pregnant
- Pregnancy exercises for all trimesters
- how to stay fit in the first trimester
- how to work out in the second trimester
- 7 minute prenatal HIIT workout
- 20-minute total body pregnancy workout
- 15-Minute booty workout
- Homemade belly butter for stretch marks
You can check out tons of follow-along, prenatal workouts on my YouTube playlist.
Frequently Asked Questions About 3rd Trimester Workouts
There is no perfect workout routine for pregnant women. This is because all pregnancies and women are different and how a mother feels that day is different too. Some good ways to work out are by using full body workout routines to lessen the intensity on each muscle group or by using an upper body and lower body split depending on how you feel that day.
Though it's not ideal to start lifting weights in the last trimester if is completely safe to keep weight lifting into the 3rd trimester. Modifications will need to be made as the belly grows and depending on how the expecting mom is feeling, however, weight lifting is a great way to remain active through pregnancy.
There is no idea piece of equipment for pregnancy workouts. However, strength training while pregnant has some wonderful benefits. Using dumbbells if you're used to them is an easy way to go about this, however, resistance bands, mini loops, and TRX are all low-impact, wonderful options.
Staying strong and active throughout your third trimester of pregnancy is challenging but rewarding.
You're battling fatigue and every day feels different. Help your body prepare for labor by remaining active but remember not to push yourself.
Movement should feel good and the goal should be to reduce pregnancy-related symptoms and prepare for recovery- not to be in the best shape of your life 😉