With Level 3 Coach Jenny Otto

April 29, 2022

Working out during a pregnancy may seem a bit scary at first, but with a few modifications and swaps, exercising while pregnant (and post-pregnancy) can have many benefits including boosting your mental health!

According to Level 3 Personal Trainer (and fellow mom) Jenny Otto, as a general rule, if you’re a pretty active person before your pregnancy, you can continue with most of your usual workouts, with some modifications, while pregnant. If you enjoy lots of yoga, keep that going! Just make sure to talk with your instructors before class to discuss modifications. Love lifting weights? Most strength exercises can be continued throughout your pregnancy with modifications including lowering weights, changing your body position, and trying out new machines.

Post-pregnancy or “Fourth Trimester” workouts, while still very beneficial to physical and mental health, come with a whole new set of challenges. “Be patient with yourself and take time to build back up to where you were before the pregnancy,” said Jenny. “Once you have the baby, you have a whole other set of worries happening. You can’t just worry about yourself anymore.” While it may feel like your new bundle of joy is the only thing you should or can focus on, it’s still important to remember to take time for yourself. “You don’t feel yourself after having a kid… Try to make it to the gym if you can - if that’s something that makes you feel good.”

Not only will you see physical benefits to your body, but the mental benefits are crucial during this time as well. Exercise will help you feel more yourself, and has proven to prevent and alleviate depression, anxiety, and other post-pregnancy mental health complications. Another major benefit of working out post-pregnancy? Sleep! “Getting in a good workout can help you sleep better, and will help to get blood flowing to improve brain function,” said Jenny. We all know sleep can be limited with a baby, so getting better, deeper sleep (when you can get it) is crucial to recovery and getting back to being your best self.

Here are some common exercises and modifications to try for expecting or new moms!



  • Planks are safe to do throughout your pregnancy
  • Planks can be done on your hands, or forearms, whatever feels best.

Side Plank

  • This can be done balancing on your feet, or try the modified version on your knees, pictured here



  • This can be done until around the third trimester, when laying on your back is no longer recommended

Air Squat

  • Air Squats can be done throughout your pregnancy
  • Feeling off balance? Place a chair underneath you to sit on in between reps for additional support

Squat with TRX

  • Pregnancy can cause you to feel a little off-balance, especially towards the end
  • Try squatting with the TRX for even more support


  • Step ups can be done all throughout your pregnancy
  • Modify depending on how you feel by lowering the step and decreasing the weight (or removing the dumbbells all together!)



  • These can be done on your back up until the third trimester of your pregnancy


  • Modify to a Chest Press using the TRX later in pregnancy


  • To target your back muscles while keeping your balance, try lat pulls using the TRX


  • If you're feeling like working your back muscles with a little more weight, try this exercise with the cable machine


  • Remember that most upper body exercises with dumbbells can be done seated for additional support
  • Some exercises to try in this position: Bicep Curls, Hammer Curls, Lateral Raises

Whether you’re pre or post-partum, the pool is a great option to use for recovery, or if you’re looking for a less intense workout day. “If you’re feeling swollen or inflamed, or maybe if you’re extra tired, but if you still want to exercise, the pool is a great option,” said Jenny. Some good gentle workout ideas for the pool? A nice slow swim, swimming with a kickboard, or even just a brisk walk in the pool will do the trick!

As with any major lifestyle changes, it is best to consult with your doctor before adding any changes to your fitness routine during pregnancy.

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