Second Trimester Strength Workouts

Published by
The Moves Team
June 7, 2024
June 10, 2024

Second Trimester Strength Workouts

Once you hit the second trimester, life begins to feel (and look) a little different. Where you might have been taking cat naps throughout the day and falling asleep way before your usual bedtime, you might suddenly feel reinvigorated.

Maybe your energy levels are up, your nausea has taken a back seat, and you’re ready to bounce back into a workout routine.

But with a little one on the way, can you lift as heavy as you did pre-pregnancy? Or if you’re new to strength training, is it safe to start during your second trimester?

During this stage in pregnancy, you can incorporate strength training (and other types of exercise) into your routine, whether you’re new to exercise or a seasoned veteran. The intensity and duration of your workouts, however, will vary depending on your fitness level and how your body feels as you’re completing the movements.

Grab your workout equipment and prepare to elevate your routine as we explore how to create safe and effective second-trimester workouts.

Benefits of Strength Training During the Second Trimester

Once that first-trimester nausea subsides, gaining back that extra pep in your step can feel like a breath of fresh air. In addition to the energetic uptick many women notice in their second trimester, how would you like to feel even more energized, courtesy of a strength training session?

According to a recent study of women between 23 and 35 weeks of pregnancy, not only did 88% of participants feel increased bouts of energy but 76% also noticed decreased feelings of fatigue, leaving them with a clearer mind (goodbye, Pregnancy Brain).

Many moms-to-be who incorporated strength training also noted these other worthwhile advantages during their pregnancy, including:

  • Reduced lower back pain
  • Better psychological well-being
  • Decreased likelihood of being diagnosed with preeclampsia
  • Reduced chance of having gestational diabetes
  • Easier labor

You’re not the only one who can benefit from strength training. Your baby might also experience some advantages. Research indicates that babies born to individuals who exercise during pregnancy tend to have higher birth weights compared to newborns of mothers who don’t engage in exercise.

Ready to try Mom Moves? Sign up for a free trial.

Innovative Pelvic Floor Exercises for Strong Abs

While you may need to modify your form as the pregnancy progresses, there are dozens of exercises that you’re entirely capable of completing with the utmost finesse. Below, we explore five basic second-trimester exercises for your upper and lower body.

#1 Bicep Curls

Whether you’re using resistance bands, dumbbells, or bottles of water, bicep curls strengthen the muscles in the front of your arm. Strong biceps come in handy all the time in everyday life—including for lifting and snuggling little ones. To complete this movement, follow these steps:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your resistance equipment of choice in your hands.
  1. Tuck your elbows close to your sides and curl toward your shoulders with your palms facing upward. You should feel the tension in your biceps as you lift the weight.
  1. Slowly lower your arms back to the starting position.

There are several other variations of bicep curls to add to your routine as well, including hammer curls, cross-body hammer curls, and reverse curls.

#2 Modified Push-Ups

Using the natural resistance of your body weight, this compound exercise engages multiple muscle groups in your upper body, including your shoulders, chest, and triceps.

With a growing bump, we recommend performing modified pushups on an incline, with the help of a weight bench or other elevated surface:

  1. Place your hands on the surface, approximately shoulder-width apart.
  1. Walk your feet backward until your body is in a straight line from head to toe, at an incline. Your arms should be fully extended with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  1. Engage your core and bend your elbows, lowering your body toward the flat surface near your hands.
  1. At the bottom of the movement, check that your body is still in a straight line (no sagging or lifting your booty too high).
  1. Push through your palms, extending your elbows to a nearly straight position as you return to the starting position.

#3 Bodyweight Squats

Squats are an excellent exercise that targets all of the major muscle groups in the lower body, including your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

To perform a bodyweight squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, pointing your toes out slightly for better stability. Then follow these simple instructions:

  1. Lower your body to a comfortable depth by bending your knees. Focus on keeping your back and chest in a relaxed, upright position.
  1. Push through your heels, squeezing your glutes as you return to the starting position.

#4 Standing Leg Abductions

This exercise targets your outer thighs and hips, which can strengthen muscles and support pelvic stability. If your growing belly has you feeling a little less stable these days, you can hold onto a surface to help you maintain your balance while following these steps:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  1. Lift one leg out to the side to engage your outer thigh. Keep your knee straight—but not locked—during the movement.
  1. Hold the position at the top for one to two seconds before lowering your leg back down.

#5 Pelvic Tilts

Pelvic tilts engage your deep core muscles and pelvic floor. They can be helpful for any pesky pregnancy-related back pain:

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent above your feet and tilt your pelvis forward. You can also think about tucking your tailbone under. You’ll know you’re in the right position when your lower back touches the floor.
  1. Tilt your pelvis backward, gently arching your lower back. While performing repetitions of this movement, focus on engaging your abdominal muscles.

Ready to try Mom Moves? Sign up for a free trial.

Details to Consider When Exercising During the Second Trimester

While you're fully capable of adding strength-training exercises to your weekly workout routine, there are a few considerations to keep in mind as your pregnancy advances. Consider how the following factors can guide you in selecting and adapting Moves workouts to suit your specific needs:

  • Frequency – According to the CDC, pregnant and postpartum women should aim for 150 minutes of exercise each week. It might sound intimidating at first, but you can split that into five 30-minute chunks, or even smaller periods of three 10-minute sessions, five days a week.
  • Duration – The length of your workout depends on how much time you have available and how comfortable your body feels as you’re performing each exercise. A typical session lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Moves founder, Madeline Custer, recommends, “If you’re just getting into the workout groove, aim for shorter workouts at first, gradually increasing the length as your body adjusts.”
  • Intensity – The intensity of your workouts will vary depending on your age, fitness level, and unique health circumstances. If possible, opt for a moderate level of intensity. Not sure what moderate equates to? If you can carry on a conversation without feeling winded, you’re within the moderate range. You can adjust the intensity of your workouts as you go by adding a few extra repetitions (or removing some if you need to scale back).

When it comes down to it, listen to your body and your intuition. If it’s telling you to slow down, honor that signal. You can modify your exercises to meet your needs and still accomplish an equally challenging workout.

Sample Workout: Mom Moves

Here’s a full-body routine from our Mom Moves prenatal program, specifically designed for the second trimester.


To prepare for your workout ahead, do each of these exercises twice through:

  1. Hooklying contractions – Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Inhale into your pelvic floor. As you exhale, lift the pelvic floor, wrap the deep core, and hold. Take small breaths in this contracted position. Repeat 10 reps.
  1. Knee tap mini squat to calf raise – Squat until you can tap your knees with your hands. Then drive straighten and drive up onto your toes for a calf raise. Repeat 10 reps.
  1. Incline shoulder taps – Place your hands on an elevated bench with your feet on the ground and spine straight. Alternate shoulder taps while maintaining a wrapped core. Try to limit side-to-side motion through the body. Repeat 10 reps.
  1. Wide bentover row – Hinge about 45 degrees forward at the hips, maintaining a straight spine. With a dumbbell in each hand, pull back from the elbows into a wide row, arms at right angles. Repeat 5 reps. 

Superset #1

Complete this first set three times:

  1. Plié squat – With your feet wide and toes pointed outward, descend to your full depth, then ascend into a lockout of your knees and hips. Hold dumbbells at your shoulders. Repeat 12 reps.
  1. Plié stance deadlight – From the same starting position, hinge and push back at the hips as you lower your dumbbells straight down to the floor. Return to standing by driving your hips forward. Make sure your spine is straight the entire time. Repeat 12 reps.

Circuit #1

Next up, challenge yourself to three rounds of this circuit, first doing 6 reps of each, then 8, then finally 10:

  1. Bentover dumbbell row – Hinge about 45 degrees forward at the hips, maintaining a straight spine. With a dumbbell in each hand, draw the weights into your chest and pull your elbows back, tucked closely to your sides. 
  1. Lateral lunge weighted – Start with your legs straight and feet close together. Step out into a wide side lunge, hinging at the hips. Return to a lockout position. Make sure you do both sides in each set!
  1. Dumbbell overhead tricep extension – Lift your arms straight above your head with a dumbbell in your hands. Keeping your upper arm completely still, bend at the elbows and lower the weight behind your head, then straighten to your starting position.

You can finish out this full-body routine with Circuit #2 and of course, a cooldown by downloading the Moves app and signing up for a 7-day free trial. There, you’ll find 13 weeks' worth of second-trimester and third-trimester workout options, all part of our Mom Moves prenatal programming.

Safety Tips for Second-Trimester Workouts

Whether slouching during deadlifts or lunging with improper alignment, it only takes one repetition using poor form to increase the risk of a potential injury. That’s why it’s crucial to master the correct movement of each exercise.

Below, we share some tips to help you safely complete your second-trimester workouts:

  • Focus on spinal alignment – Maintain a neutral spine when performing resistance exercises, avoiding any excessive rounding or arching of your back. This minimizes strain on your spine and its supporting muscles.
  • Practice proper breathing techniques – When you’re focused on finishing those last two repetitions or perfecting the form of a movement, it’s easy to forget to breathe through the exercise. Instead, think about inhaling before you begin a movement and exhaling as you exert the most energy. During a squat, for example, you’ll inhale as you lower yourself, and then exhale as you push back up into the starting position.
  • Incorporate warm-ups and cool-downs – Stretching, walking on the treadmill, five minutes of stationary bike, or whatever light cardio feels best for you, incorporating gentle exercise before your workout increases your muscle temperature and blood flow, which can lead to better performance while also preventing injuries.

Unlock Exercises for Every Trimester—and Beyond—With Moves

Understanding how to create your own workout routines can be beneficial during every trimester. However, finding safe and effective exercises can be time-consuming, and we know how valuable your time and energy are. 

The Moves App is a platform for individuals in all stages of life, including pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. With Moves, you’re granted instant access to eight distinct workout plans tailored to your interests and fitness level.

During your pregnancy journey, we recommend our Mom Moves program, developed with pelvic floor and women’s health experts. With programming specific to each trimester, all 170 workouts are pregnancy-safe and adjustable to meet your needs.

No matter where you are in your pregnancy, the Moves App is your personal trainer every step of the way. Sign up for a free trial to see for yourself.


NIH. Muscle strengthening exercises during pregnancy are associated with increased energy and reduced fatigue. 

Strength and Conditioning Journal. Resistance Training During Pregnancy: Safe and Effective Program Design. 

 Ovid. Beginning regular exercise in early pregnancy: Effect on fetoplacental growth. 

Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle Fitness. 

CDC. Healthy Pregnant or Postpartum Women. 

NIH. Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Health of the Surgeon. 

 NIH. The effect of warm-ups with stretching on the isokinetic moments of collegiate men.

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