Preg Workout Swap-outs

My body awareness is so different (and better!) than it used to be. I’ve had to really tune in and decide when I need to take breaks, when I feel great and should take advantage of it, and when I would feel better to get a little activity in, even if it’s something small (which is pretty often). Even when I really just want to sit on the couch, eat seaweed snacks and dream about gluten-free poptarts, I still aim to get in my daily workout. Some days this is walking outside with Bell, while others, it’s a full-up cardio and weights sesh. Though my workouts have managed to stay pretty consistent with the little nugette growing in my belly, it’s definitely force d me to think outside the box.

photo (46)

I’ll be doing a full-up second trimester workout write-up (you can read my first trimester one *here*) when I cross into the third, but for now, I thought I’d post some of my favorite exercise substitutions, since prone (laying on the stomach) and supine (laying on the back) exercises are discouraged after the first trimester.

Here are some of the swap-outs I’ve used, as well as my fave preg appropriate exercises.

[Just posting some of the swaps I’ve made, since many of you have asked. Pregnancy is a delicate time to change up your workout routine if you’re not used to something, so as always, use your own judgment and talk to a doc before making any fitness changes]

Lower back

1st trimester: Stability ball back extensions, deadlifts, superman

2nd: Deadlifts (lighter weight), spinal balance w a pulse


I did a lot of research on working abs during pregnancy, as I’ve heard mixed things about it. From what I’ve read, it’s a good thing to work your core throughout pregnancy, because the birth process uses strength from your legs and from your core (to push the baby out!). Also, it will be SO much easier to get your pre-baby abs back if the muscle strength is still there. I forget where I read this, but it said basically along the lines of using a balloon covered with tape to represent abdominal muscles. Imagine the tape in stands taped onto the balloon tightly in order to represent strong ab muscles. Now picture another balloon covered in loosely taped tape to represent weaker ab muscles. Now mentally pop the balloons. Which one do you think will be able to recover faster?? Exactly.

The thing is, you don’t want to do ab exercises laying on your back, as it can disrupt blood flow to the baby, so I’ve had to make some modifications.

1st trimester: Everything under the sun. Sit-ups, weighted crunches, frog crunches, the sprinter, circle obliques, etc. etc.

2nd trimester: Every plank under the sun. Side planks, walking planks, up and down planks, the list goes on. I’ve also done hanging leg raises, gentle oblique tilts, and leg raises and crunches with the top part of my body propped up to a 45* angle.


1st trimester: Supine chest flyes, supine chest presses

2nd trimester: Standing chest flyes and chest presses using a cable machine


Everything I did for shoulders (lat raises, overhead presses, bent-over flyes, press and twist) I can still do in my second trimester.

One of my all-time fave shoulder exercises is the side-laying lateral raise– suitable for all stages of pregnancy.

{Why was I wearing a jacket for a summer workout video? Because I was freshly preg, looking bloated already and trying to hide it} 😉

Triceps, back and biceps

Triceps, back and biceps exercises have also remained the same. Some fave tricep exercises: dip, kickback, cable overhead extension, cable tricep pressdown.

All-time favorite back/biceps exercise: assisted pullups.


Legs exercises have been pretty standard. I’ve actually bumped up my leg exercises because I want them to be super strong when delivery day comes- I’m going to be walking around, squatting and kneeling for who-knows-how-many hours and I want to know I’m strong enough. My booty is thanking me already 😉

Lunge and squat variations have been frequent over here, as well as weighted step-ups, leg presses (which I may have to nix when my belly gets bigger), side-laying leg raise combos, and cable kickbacks.

I hope this helps some of you who had questions about swap-outs <3

It’s time for a [modified] Turbofire workout over here 🙂

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  1. Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn on August 18, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    You two are actually the cutest workout couple ever. I can’t wait to be preggo so I can actually apply these tips. Mwahhh!

  2. Emily Malone on August 18, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Leg presses definitely get harder as you get the big belly! Now when I do them I kind of feel like I look like I’m giving birth. Awkward… 🙂

    • Brittany @ a healthy slice of life on August 18, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      But great practice for the real thing! you’re going to karate chop those stirrups! Haha 🙂

      • Fitnessista on August 18, 2011 at 8:14 pm


  3. Brittany @ a healthy slice of life on August 18, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I wish you were ahead of pregnancy so you could tell me how to get back in shape after my baby arrives in the next few weeks! Any tips of the top of your head that you plan to utilize?

  4. Sana on August 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I can’t believe I saw your ABS in your baby bump pic form yesterday!

  5. Jen @familyfoodfitnessandfun on August 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I remember doing a lot of exercises on the big exercise ball. It was a lot easier on my back, but it also worked the core at the same time.
    Have fun with the “modified” TurboFire workout 🙂

  6. Chloe (In Fine Feather) on August 18, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    It’s so awesome how active you are during your pregnancy – quite an inspiration for when I one day have a bun in the oven!

  7. kaila @ healthy helper! on August 18, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Cool info!!! Glad yto see your taking all the necessary precautions for the little nuggette but still getting your sweat on~!! SO awesome!

  8. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on August 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    the little nugette <—love that

    And the swaps are all great. When I was pregnant, I did yoga and walked. I didnt do any lifting really. Oh and I bounced on my exercise ball and sat on it b/c it felt good on my hips & lower back to be on it.

    You and Pilot look adorable in the pic…and Happy Anniversary again!! 🙂

  9. Laury @ thefitnessdish on August 18, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    ^I bounced on my ball A LOT in the end…in between squats in hopes to move the nugget down the birth canal 😉

    Isn’t is CRAZY how much in tune you need to be with your body. I learned so much about myself while pregnant…and I have been working out in the gym since I was 15. It was really strange when you find you can’t do what you could before, or just at a lighter pace..after being SO fit!!!

    I did tons of research on abs too. In the beginning I was just paranoid about everything because it took me so long to get pregnant, I did everything with caution. I learned what you said about the balloon so I did lots of stability exercises. Planks got really tough as the belly got bigger but I did some straight arm planks, and some pre-natal pilates, and anything that didn’t require twisting or lying on my back, with caution. To be honest I could have paid more attention to my abs during pregnancy….I did a little bit, but not as much as I was capable of. However, the docs commented on how strong my ab muscles were and now Ella is 3 1/2 months and I am already seeing definition and my belly isn’t quite flat, but it’s flatter than I anticipated at this point, so I’m happy!!!! Keep up the great work and info! This is invaluable to women out there!!!

  10. Jen on August 19, 2011 at 12:07 am

    I just did a few sets of lateral raises during my workout this morning! I really like shoulder exercises. I always feel the burn, and I love the results! Shoulder definition is sexy!

  11. chelsea on August 19, 2011 at 12:41 am

    You make me so excited for the day I become a mom! I can just come check out your site and follow everything you’ve done lol!

  12. The Healthy Engineer on August 19, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Oh my god I loved your anniversary post and it’s great you’re this active…it probably helps with the hip pain?

    Anyways, I was inbetween two infants on the plane ride I just took, and the 3 month old was the sweetest thing ever.

    The other baby was jumping around and so happy and I loved how she smiled for the camera every time her mom took a picture!

    I just love observing infants and how they react to things 🙂

  13. Meghan on August 19, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Thanks for the great post! I just hit my 2nd trimester and am finally feeling up to working out again. Actually I am heading to the gym now, and looking forward to a great workout. I would have never thought about abs, but it makes sense. Since I want to go epi free I will continue to work on strength. Thanks and congrats on the baby girl!!!

  14. Ali @ urbanfruitbat on August 19, 2011 at 11:57 am

    And with the extra weight of the baby, your leg work outs must be even that much more effective, no? These are all awesome tips, thanks girl!

  15. Amber L on August 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Great post! I can’t wait to revisit these posts after I get pregnant!

    I have a related question for you. When you said you were in the second half of your cycle you took things easy. Would Zumba be something that you were okay with doing during the second half? Or did you wait to do Zumba after your got pregnant?


    • Fitnessista on August 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      nope, i still did zumba! i just didn’t do any pounding, high-impact activity (like HIIT or sprints)

  16. Molly on April 26, 2012 at 6:20 am

    I realize this is months late, but I’m in my second tri now and have really worried about weights & abs in general (cardio is still the same just slower)… Do you know where there is a video or picture describing the crunches w/ your body propped up 45 degrees? I guess I’m having a hard time envisioning it? Also, i realize the answer is always “listen to you how you feel”, but would you say there is a *suggested* weight reduction for lifting? for example, if I were doing 15lbs in each arm for an exercise before, is it smart to drop to 10lbs? Should most things be under 5lbs? I have great doctors and have often asked them, but in reality, MDs are not physical trainers and cannot get into too many details beyond telling me I’m cleared and should “pay attention to my body” (this is not being harsh, but almost any doctor would admit it). Finally, if you know any good sources for pretty fit people & pregnancy exercise I’d love to know it. I’m trying to go through your posts for some ideas, but I feel really lost. I wish I could afford a trainer or someone to show me, but for now I’m on my own and mildly afraid of doing anything to the little nugget inside of me.

    Wow, apologies for the long post!

  17. Gina on April 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Are the exercises you listed ones that you did? Or are they exercises you dropped?

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      they’re all things i did 🙂

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