Modified Push-Ups for Every Trimester of Your Pregnancy

Push-ups are the best way to work that upper body while you're pregnant. Get your arms ready to hold that little one with these smart strength training ideas.

Trying a new full-throttle workout regimen while you're pregnant? Not a good idea. Continuing to hit the gym and engage in some moderate exercise? Now that's a good idea. The key to healthy pregnancy exercise is to find a balance between challenging yourself and taking it easy. Listen to your body and explore gentle accommodations as your pregnancy progresses.

According to fitness experts, pregnant people should definitely keep working out, but they should be careful about choosing pregnancy-friendly modifications for some moves and not overexerting themselves. Jennifer Forrester, a fitness guru who knows a thing or two about the relationship between pregnancy and fitness, believes that during pregnancy, people should aim to switch up their workouts as their bodies and energy levels change.

She's partial to push-ups, which put the focus on the upper body but also tone and strengthen the lower back and abdominal muscles. Forrester just suggests modifying push-ups for each stage of your pregnancy.

"Push-ups are one of those exercises that you may not love in the moment, but you will love the results that this exercise can give you," Forrester says. "I would say that push-ups are a consistent component of my workouts. They are not only great for your chest, but they also do an incredible job of strengthening your core, triceps, and shoulders."

Try the three push-up exercises below throughout your pregnancy. "I encourage you to start working on your push-ups and track your progress to see how many you can do in a row over time." Start with five to 10 reps and then increase from there.

During each trimester, you can add difficulty, as desired, by increasing the number of repetitions you complete. Or, if you begin to feel more fatigue, cut back, as needed. Always stop if you feel pain or discomfort. Also, check with your doctor or midwife if you have any questions or concerns about exercising (or anything else!) while pregnant.

First Trimester Push-Ups

In your first trimester, you can continue doing traditional push-ups as long as they feel good to you. But when you're ready for an accommodation—or if you are new to this exercise—try this modified push-up:

  1. Start in a modified push-up position with hands and knees on the ground.
  2. Be sure your hands are directly under the shoulders as you lower down toward the ground.
  3. Push back and return to starting position and repeat.

As you do each push-up, rather than let gravity do the work for you, aim to control your movements on both the downward and upward motions. Pause and hold for a few seconds at the top in between each push-up.

Second Trimester Push-Ups

Once you're in your second trimester, you'll likely be ready for an adjustment to your push-up routine:

  1. Start in the push-up plank position.
  2. Reach the right hand sideways during the push-up, holding yourself up with your left arm and legs.
  3. Alternate sides while bringing one hand to the center between reps. Then, extend the opposite hand to the side, away from the body.

As your belly grows, it becomes increasingly important to protect your abdomen. So, be sure to securely hold your body in position so that you don't fall down on your belly.

Third Trimester Push-Ups

In the third trimester, your growing belly can impact your balance and energy level, making traditional push-ups tricky. But you can still get the strength-building benefits of the push-up motion. This clever accommodation lets you do a standing push-up supported by a wall:

  1. Stand facing a wall and extend your arms onto the wall just wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Bend your elbows until your nose almost touches the wall.
  3. Reverse the movement and push your body back to the starting position. Continue for 15 reps.

This exercise can be done as part of a larger workout or simply work in your push-ups throughout the day. You'll reap the benefits whether you do a couple of sets or even just a few push-ups daily.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles