How To Safely Exercise In The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy
Finally into your third trimester of pregnancy? Learn the best (and safest) way to exercise in the third trimester of pregnancy. For this area in your pregnancy fitness journey, you'll need to adjust a lot so use these third trimester workout tips to help you stay healthy and safe. If you were active during the first and seconds trimesters you'll be well set up for this final chapter.
I was active prior to both of my pregnancies. I love lifting weights, dancing, running on occasion, and am generally a fitness junkie. But pregnancy changes everything (read my struggles of being pregnant and a fitness junkie here).
I'm extremely thankful that throughout my pregnancies I've been able to maintain my fitness and stay active. But the third trimester workouts are probably the hardest (yes, even working out around crazy nausea in the first trimester!).
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.
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)
And on top of the actual labor is recovery, (go see a pelvic floor physio- please!!) and more often than not, some postpartum back pain (seriously these are the things no one tells you about pregnancy and postpartum!). 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.
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
- 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.
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. For me, this means I still rock my workouts but they're 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, to 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 can 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, workout earlier in the morning before your day wears you down. Personally, I have a good amount of energy until about 11 am and then everything seems to taper off. 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.
Like I mentioned above- your third trimester of pregnancy workout doesn't need to be overly intense. 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.
Exercise In The Third Trimester: Focus on Small Muscle Groups
While I love lifting and compound movements (loaded squats, pull-ups pressed, etc), exercise in the third trimester of pregnancy is a great time to focus on all those fun little muscles that make a world of difference. Your hips and stabilizers, in general, should be targeted (check out the best pregnancy hip 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 to help relieve any postural pain and prepare you for post-birth. Place the majority of focus on your glutes and hips (the best hip exercises for pregnancy & why!) because it's those muscles that help support your pelvic floor and will reduce back pain postpartum.
Don't Push Yourself
Now, I'm all about pushing yourself in the gym. But the truth is, 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 dog for your core etc.
Strengthen Your Body
If you're having a normal pregnancy and feel up to it, rock a third trimester strength workout. Strength training during pregnancy and third trimester is amazing. It'll prepare you for labor and recovery immensely as well as help alleviate pregnancy pain symptoms.
This doesn't mean you need to lift uber heavy. Adding external resistance with bands, trx straps or lighter weights is amazing.
And if you're wondering, these mini green bands are my all-time favorite for anything hip and glute related along with this red band for upper body work. You can snag both at prosourcefit and save some money with the code mamabearfit
Exercise In The Third Trimester: A Third Trimester Workout
Working out in the third trimester is a bit different for every woman. Below is an idea of what my strength workouts looked like at 33 weeks pregnant.
A1. Banded Goblet Squat
A2. Trx Low Row
B1. Banded Sumo Walks
B2. 1 Arm DB Row
B3. Standing Band Hip Thrust
C1. Reverse Lunges
C2. Parlof Presses
Here is another great third trimester strength workout and below is one I filmed while 34 weeks pregnant.
My focus for my workouts is always to train the back of my body with a big emphasis on hips and glutes as well as to keep my workouts quick (about 30 minutes). My sets are higher repetitions than normal for me because my weights are lower.
This may not be the case for you, but every little bit helps.
Note: I am currently expecting my third (yay!) and this time I'm documenting ALL THE THINGS. Head on over to my YouTube channel where I'm not posting follow-along, prenatal workouts for all trimesters.
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.
Don't forget to pin these tips for Safe Exercise In The Third Trimester!
Exercise for the third trimester is tricky. Your goals should be to be ACTIVE, enjoyment, reducing pregnancy pains, and preparing for labor. Not weight loss, belly only pregnancy shit.
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 😉