Guided workout: Safe exercises for all pregnancy trimesters

This 20-minute workout, developed with Nuffield Health experts in pregnancy fitness, is designed to build strength and mobility to help you through labour and the demands of motherhood.

Tereza Pilnackova is a personal trainer and Emma McKenna is a physiologist at Nuffield Health. They are highly-trained experts specialising in antenatal and postnatal fitness and physiology. This workout has been devised with their support to provide a safe strength and mobility workout for women in each trimester of pregnancy. However, supervised exercise with a specialist is always preferable and advised during pregnancy.

Some of the exercises in this workout contain equipment. You can use the following substitutions:

  • Use a chair instead of a swiss ball
  • Use water bottles or tin cans instead of dumbbells.

Advice provided within the film is in line with advice provided by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Always consult your midwife before undertaking exercise during pregnancy.

Do not perform these exercises if you have now or have had any of the following conditions:

  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Haemodynamically-significant heart disease
  • Multiple gestation at risk for premature labour
  • Persistent second or third trimester bleeding
  • Placenta praevia after 26 weeks gestation
  • Premature labour during the current pregnancy
  • Ruptured membranes
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • Severe anaemia
  • Unevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Poorly controlled type I diabetes
  • Extreme morbid obesity
  • Extreme underweight (body mass index <12)
  • History of extremely sedentary lifestyle
  • Intrauterine growth restriction in current pregnancy
  • Poorly controlled hypertension/preeclampsia
  • Orthopaedic limitations
  • Poorly controlled seizure disorder
  • Poorly controlled thyroid disease
  • Heavy smoker 

Do not perform this workout and stop immediately to seek medical help if you suffer from any of the following:

  • Excessive shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain or palpitations 
  • Presyncope or dizziness 
  • Painful uterine contractions or preterm labour 
  • Leakage of amniotic fluid 
  • Vaginal bleeding 
  • Excessive fatigue 
  • Abdominal pain, particularly in back or pubic area 
  • Pelvic girdle pain 
  • Reduced fetal movement
  • Dyspnoea before exertion 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Calf pain or swelling.

Further information

This and other free parenting guides are also available at Find out more about fitness during pregnancy in our trimester-by-trimester guides to exercise during pregnancy and nutrition during pregnancy.

Last updated Monday 30 March 2020

First published on Monday 9 January 2017