Strength training is safe and one of the best ways to mini­mize aches and pains. Weight machines are ideal, espe­cially for gym newbies, because they control your range of motion. “During pregnancy, your joints get looser, and it’s easy to move outside of your normal range,” says Jeffreys. However, if you’re accustomed to doing free-weight exer­cises, you can continue.

Description: During pregnancy, your joints get looser, and it’s easy to move outside of your normal range

During pregnancy, your joints get looser, and it’s easy to move outside of your normal range

Steer clear of any machine with a pad that presses against your belly, such as the seated row machine or abdominal machines. In addition, forgo any overhead lift, because this kind of motion can increase the curve in your lower spine (aka hyperlordosis).

The strength routines at right target the muscles that are key to reducing discomfort during pregnancy. Choose a weight that allows you to perform the repetitions prop­erly and comfortably and follow the suggestions at right. After your first trimester, avoid any exercise done while lying on your back.

Strength train at the gym

Upper/middle back

Best machines: seated cable row, lat pull-down pregnancy benefit: As your breasts get bigger, your shoulders round forward. Strengthening the muscles between your shoulder blades helps counteract the slump.


Best machine: seated chest-press pregnancy benefit: Because you strengthened your back muscles in the previous move, you need to work your pecs to keep your body in balance and avoid injury. And because your breasts get bigger during pregnancy, keeping pectoral muscles strong might also help prevent them from sagging.


Best machines: biceps and triceps pregnancy benefit: Strong arms. Soon you’ll be schlepping a baby, a diaper bag—and the groceries.

Description: Arms/shoulders

Lower body

Best machines: leg extension and seated leg-curl pregnancy benefit: Your quadriceps and hamstrings bear the weight of your pregnancy as your belly grows.

Strength train at home

All you need are 2- to 5-pound dumbbells and a chair. Do 1 or 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions for each exercise, choosing a weight that is comfortable or simply using your body weight. Triceps overhead extensions      Lateral raises Biceps curls Squats

Core matters

A strong core is crucial for keeping back pain at bay when you’re expecting, and you can perform this move at home or at the gym, for as many weeks into pregnancy as you’re able.

To do a plank Get down on your hands and knees, wrists directly under your shoulders. Lift your knees and straighten your legs behind you until your body forms a straight line. Don’t arch your back or let your belly sag, and keep your head in line with your spine. Hold for 1 to 2 breaths, working up to 5 breaths.

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