What Exercises Should I Avoid in My Second Trimester?

  • Medical Reviewer: Dany Paul Baby, MD
Medically Reviewed on 7/1/2022

What to consider before exercising while pregnant

You should maintain the amount of activity you were doing before pregnancy. Exercises to avoid during the second trimester of pregnancy include pushups, planking, back workouts, and lifting heavy weights.
You should maintain the amount of activity you were doing before pregnancy. Exercises to avoid during the second trimester of pregnancy include pushups, planking, back workouts, and lifting heavy weights.

In a healthy, average pregnancy with no severe conditions, it’s safe to keep exercising or start physical activity while pregnant. Despite common misconceptions, physical activity does not: 

  • Increase risk of miscarriage
  • Cause low birth weight
  • Cause early delivery

Before exercising, though, you should talk to your obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) about the right exercises for your health level. They’ll give you the go-ahead to start working out or caution against unsafe activities during pregnancy

You should maintain the amount of activity you were doing before pregnancy. If you weren’t active pre-pregnancy, don’t overdo it when getting started. However, you can start working out when you become pregnant. Just avoid strenuous activity. 

Exercising while pregnant has many health benefits. These include: 

It’s essential not to wear yourself out when exercising. A tip for physical exercise is being able to hold a conversation while working out. If you’re breathless and struggling to talk, you’re working too hard. 

What are the benefits of exercising during pregnancy?

Exercise is great for you and your baby. As long as you’re not experiencing certain complications, you can exercise to help you feel better, and look better. Exercise also helps prepare you and your body for birth. 

If you were active before pregnancy, you’re likely to gain less weight during pregnancy. Continued exercise can help you get back to your pre-pregnancy body more quickly. However, you shouldn’t be trying to lose weight when exercising while pregnant. 

Exercising can help you relieve back pain, improve posture, reduce constipation, prevent wear and tear on your joints, and help you sleep better. All of these things can help reduce complications later in pregnancy.

Exercises to avoid during your second trimester

In your second trimester of pregnancy, your blood pressure drops. So it’s important to make sure you’re not changing positions too quickly. Going from standing to lying or moving too fast can make you dizzy and off-balance. There are also certain exercises you should avoid in your second trimester. 

Pushups and planking

You should go from doing standard or knee pushups to wall pushups by your second trimester. This will reduce strain on your core and back. Planking is also okay to do in your first trimester, but you should modify your planks by the second trimester. Try planking in shorter intervals and ensure there’s no bulging or strain on your abdominal muscles. 

Back workouts

When you get into the second trimester, you should avoid exercises where you’re lying on your back. As your uterus grows with your baby, laying on your back can block blood flow to vital organs.

Lifting heavy weights

Strength training is an integral part of an exercise routine. But by your second trimester, avoid lifting more than 10 to 15 pounds of barbells. You should also avoid lifting toddlers, other children, and other heavy objects.

By the time you reach your second trimester, you can keep walking, swimming, and doing other pre-pregnancy exercises. However, you should avoid high-impact activities.

Exercises to avoid your entire pregnancy

While there are specific exercises you should avoid in your second trimester, there are some you should avoid a majority of your pregnancy. Or until your doctor clears you during your recovery after childbirth.

Exercises that involve contact sports like hockey, boxing, soccer, and basketball put you and your belly at risk. Hot yoga or hot Pilates are two exercises that can make you easily overheated.

You should avoid exercises that put you at risk of falling or challenge your balance, coordination, and agility. Wide squats and lunges can also put you at risk of injury. Avoid any exercise that will put pressure or cause trauma to your abdomen.  


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Exercise tips for pregnancy

At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity is recommended for pregnant women. Moderate intensity means your heart rate is raised, and you’ll sweat, but you can still talk normally. 

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity can be broken down into 30-minute workouts five days a week. These activities include: 

  • A brisk walk
  • Gardening
  • Body-weight movement

You can also keep doing your regular workouts with your ob-gyn’s approval. Make sure that you’re not losing weight with these exercises. You’ll need to increase how many calories you’re eating if you are. 

Other tips for working out while pregnant include: 

  • Stay hydrated with plenty of water
  • Wear a well-supported sports bra
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing
  • Workout in a temperature-controlled room

Before exercising, you should always warm up your body and give yourself time to cool down at the end. Staying consistently active each day can help you stay on track. If you’re going to exercise classes, tell your teacher you’re pregnant and make sure they’re qualified to work with pregnant women. 

Further along in your pregnancy, you could look into swimming. The water will support your joints with your increased weight. Some gyms and pools have pregnancy-specific classes with qualified instructors. 

Exercising is great for the baby and you. Proper activity and regular exercise will help keep you healthy and help your body throughout your pregnancy. 

Signs to look for when exercising in your second trimester

Second-trimester exercise should include caution, even if you were physically active before pregnancy. There are warning signs you should watch out for when exercising. If you experience any of the following, call your ob-gyn immediately: 

You should also be on the lookout for: 

  • Swelling‌ of your hands, face, or feet
  • Heart palpitations
  • Cramping in your lower abdomen
  • Trouble walking
  • Change in your baby’s movements
  • Extreme fatigue

If you're experiencing concerning symptoms, stop exercising immediately and call your doctor. If your pain worsens or your symptoms worsen, go to the emergency room and get immediate help. Exercise in your second trimester has many benefits if it's done carefully.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/1/2022

ACOG: "Exercise During Pregnancy."

Better Health Channel: "Pregnancy and exercise."

KidsHealth: "Exercising During Pregnancy."


NHS: "Exercise in pregnancy."


UTSouthwestern Medical Center: "3 exercises to avoid during pregnancy - and 7 that are safer."