pregnancy workout

Pregnancy Workout: 6 Moves for a Full-Body Burn

Looking for a pregnancy workout? Read on for 6 functional moves for a full-body workout 🏋️‍♀️

The Why Behind the Workout

Every good workout, especially every good pregnancy workout, should help people reach their goals. In the case of pregnancy, women want to be able to labor well and then return to doing the things they love.

So a well-designed program will keep the end in mind, and it will give a good balance to the whole body.

But what makes a workout really work (<- see what I did there 😉) includes knowing why you’re doing the different movements.

When you know what muscles you’re working and how they help you in the real world, you’ll:

  • Feel more capable whether you’re working out at home or in the gym 
  • Understand exercise programs and why they work
  • Workout more effectively and efficiently
  • Be able to design your own programs

A Bit of My Workout History

I was a competitive athlete as a kid through college, so I know a thing or two about working out.

In high school, our team won back-to-back high school state soccer championships. As a cross-country runner, I earned the title of All-State and was one of the state’s top 15 runners my Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years. 

In college, we won our conference championship, securing a bid to the NCAA tournament. 

When it came to work-ethic and endurance, I was all in. Whether we were running miles on the streets or lifting in the gym, I made it my mission to cheer on my teammates and lead by example.  As a senior, I was voted to be Captain of my university soccer team, I believe because of these characteristics. 

Workouts win championships
Celebrating winning our college conference championship – can you spot me on the far right?

Realizing the Need for Knowing “Why”

But when I went to PT school, I realized how little I really understood about the reason behind certain exercises.

All those years as an athlete, and I was woefully underprepared in my ability to make a plan for myself or others. I could workout with the best of them, but I had no idea why I did what I did. 

This was definitely not anyone’s fault but my own. I hadn’t asked enough questions.

And, let’s face it, even though I was a division 1 athlete – I was still intimidated by all the people in the gym who looked like they really knew what they were doing.

So I kept my head down, continued to work hard, and applied myself to other tasks (like getting my degree!). 

Pregnancy workout
Ever been intimidated by this rack o’ weights?

But I really understood how much knowledge I was missing once deciding to help others use their bodies more functionally. And then entering the realm of the pelvic floor, I realized my need for knowledge all the more!

So I put that work-ethic to good use and started learning. 

It’s an ongoing process and I still wouldn’t say I’m an expert, particularly on weight-lifting. But I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things when it comes to exercise. And I’d like to share some of that with you.

Because I believe when you understand why you’re doing the work, you’re more apt to do it and do it well. 

Why I Love Functional Movements

There are exercises aplenty to choose from. I am constantly learning new ones. Some I keep, some I toss.

But even with all the new shiny exercises, I always add in ones I can use in normal day-to-day tasks. Sure, strength on its own is important. But being able to use that strength in the real world is where the rubber meets the road.

Below you’ll see an infographic with 6 of the functional movements I love for a full-body workout.

When it comes to a pregnancy workout, these movements still work well. The exercises under each movement category may need changing, but the overall plan still stands.

And thinking about your breath (and pelvic floor as an extension) is a vital part of any program, whether a pregnancy workout or not.

The biggest change during pregnancy is making sure what you’re doing feels good. You want to avoid heaviness or pain, especially in the pelvic floor, and keep a watch on the space between your abs to avoid doming. (This may lead to an issue with diastasis recti)

For more info on what to watch for while performing a pregnancy workout, check out ACOG’s guidelines for exercise during pregnancy.

The 6 Functional Moves

Here’s a brief overview:

  1. Push
    • Pushing is done both vertical (overhead) and horizontal (in front or to the side)
    • We do this with tasks like pushing boxes up onto high shelves or (chronically, if you’re like me) rearranging furniture
  2. Pull
    • Pulling is also done both vertical (overhead) and horizontal (in front or to the side)
    • You might pull groceries or car seats toward you in the car or pull a dresser away from a wall to reach behind it
  3. Squat
    • One of the differences between a squat and a hip hinge comes from what joint you’re focused on moving. With a squat, your knees typically bend more than with a hip hinge.
    • Squats are super useful for building strength to lift from the ground or stand up from a chair
  4. Hip Hinge/Hip Dominant
    • These exercises are more focused on glutes and movement at the hip
    • I tend to use this movement more for things like loading/unloading the dishwasher or combining it with movements like pulling things out of my car
  5. Lunge
    • Depending on how you do them, lunges can be more focused on your thigh or your glute muscles
    • Lunging is especially useful for getting up off the ground
  6. Carry
    • Carrying can be in front of you, to the side, or even overhead
    • We all carry so many things in our day. Examples include groceries (my husband laughs at me for trying to make as few trips as possible 😆), a child (or children!), or all the Amazon boxes

I created a handy infographic to explain the 6 moves to think about when performing a pregnancy workout, or any workout for that matter! These movements help you perform the tasks you need to do in your daily life.

6 Functional Moves for a Full-Body Workout


A good pregnancy workout doesn’t mean throwing out everything you’ve ever known about exercise.  These 6 functional moves can be used to create a great full-body workout: push, pull, squat, lunge, hip hinge, and carry.

Questions about any of these movements? Have a favorite exercise? Help a sister out and let us know what you think!

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