How My Exercise Has Changed

How My Exercise Routine Has Changed Throughout My Pregnancy

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about my exercise routine, now that I’m...

How My Exercise Routine Has Changed Throughout My Pregnancy

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about my exercise routine, now that I’m pregnant. People see on @getinspiralized that I’m still spinning and jump squatting and I’ve had a lot of panicked, “is that okay for the baby?!” messages.

I’ve loved getting to know some of you pregnant mamas out there, and I’m happy to share my experiences with you.

So today, I’m talking about how my exercise has changed throughout my pregnancy – where it started, where it is now, and everything in between.

First off, you can see what I do at every workout over on @getinspiralized, I always post a sweaty selfie afterwards. AND I’d like to say this, as always, everything you read on this blog is just an opinion. It’s what works for me. I’m not a doctor and I’ll never tell you to do something, I’m merely sharing what works for me!

What I will say is this: I have an unbelievably amazing and relaxed OB-GYN. Funny story. At one of our very first prenatal appointments, Lu was worried about me exercising (I was barely 12 weeks) so intensely, especially spinning. He asked the doctor, “Is it okay for her to spin and run like this?” and my doctor said, “Think about the women who had to sprint at 9 months pregnant to escape wild animals, like tigers! Your wife will be okay spinning.”

After she said that, I got it – our bodies are designed to carry babies, we don’t need to act like we’re gentle flowers while pregnant – if anything, we’re stronger than ever during this time!

I also just want to say a little something about pregnancy fear. There are so many women out there who are afraid during their pregnancies. I can’t tell you how many messages I have received asking me, “You do this – but is that okay for the baby?” Someone once told me I shouldn’t drink too much cold water because it could lower the baby’s body temperature. What the?! I’m sad for women who spend their entire pregnancy afraid of making decisions – should I put collagen in my smoothie? Is it okay to eat pre-sliced fruit? Is exercise going to cause the baby to jiggle too much and fall out?

Of course, you should consult your doctor before eating anything you’re unsure of or doing certain types of exercise, because every BODY is different. For example, I was used to doing very high intensity workouts consistently before I got pregnant, so to continue those during pregnancy is perfectly fine. If your body isn’t used to it and you decide to start a new workout regimen of jump squatting and high intensity workout classes, you may injure yourself. AND, I’ve found after talking to many mothers that a lot of our labor, delivery, and body changes are genetic. So, there’s only so much you can do!

Long story short, don’t live your pregnancy in fear. It should be a time of joy and excitement! And you know what’s worse than eating pre-sliced cantaloupe? Stress. Stress isn’t good for you or your baby.

How My Exercise Routine Has Changed Throughout My Pregnancy

Reason for exercise

Before pregnancy: To feel good and energized and to also look good. It’s a delicate balance of vanity and just wanting to feel good. When your body is working optimally because of a good diet and consistent exercise panel, there’s no better feeling – you literally glow! The added bonus? You look better. Clothes fit better, you can’t help but have more confidence when you’re proud of how your body looks and what it can do (especially when you know the level of effort it took it to get there!)

During pregnancy: There’s less of a care on vanity and more of an emphasis on keeping healthy for the baby and exercising for a hopefully easier labor and delivery. Vanity-wise, I figure, if I can’t have a flat tummy, I better have nice legs and arms to complement the beautiful bump! Also, I workout because it makes me feel lighter – it’s probably psychological, but knowing that I can make it through a 45 minute workout makes me feel lighter on my feet. With so much extra weight, it’s nice to feel toned and strong. PLUS, a big motivation to making it to the gym, especially during these later months in pregnancy, is for an easier post-partum return. I have NO desire to be one of those women who has abs 4 weeks post-partum, but I definitely don’t want to totally start from zero, so having a good muscle tone base and memory will hopefully help me recover more easily and not have to stress. I want to take those first post-partum weeks to myself, letting my body recover fully before I jump back into the gym.

How My Exercise Routine Has Changed Throughout My Pregnancy

Types of workouts

Before pregnancy: I love to spin, run, lift, and do full body HIIT. I love sweating and getting my heart rate up. I love heart-pumping music and I want to leave my workout dripping with sweat. For HIIT, I love the Nike Training Club App’s 45-minute full body HIIT workouts, and I’ve always loved Tone It Up and Kayla Itsines for supplementing. I lifted 15 pound dumb-bells mostly, with the occasional 20s if I was doing something with lower body, like squats.

During pregnancy: I still spin and do full body HIIT, but I have to modify everything from intensity to duration to the actual movements. I actually stopped running entirely around week 20 because the pressure of my belly was causing my bladder to give out – I would literally pee myself 10 minutes into a run and it was embarrassing, so I decided to give it up completely. Some of the moves in my HIIT workouts I had to modify or stop (ie nothing on my belly.) I also added my new favorite workout into the mix, to replace running: walking uphill on a treadmill. I really love it, it’s so challenging, a great booty workout, and goes by so quickly. I prop my iPhone up, sync up my headphones and literally watch Instagram stories. It’s my way to catch up on my favorite bloggers’ and brands’ content! I walk at 2.6 speed for 30 minutes, starting at 13.0 incline and ending at 15.0 incline (the max.) I’m always dripping sweat!

How My Exercise Routine Has Changed Throughout My Pregnancy

Frequency of workouts

Before pregnancy: I was doing 45-minute spin rides on the Peloton bike (read about my obsession here) about 4-5 times per week and doing full body HIIT workouts 1-2 days per week. I was working out consistently 5-6 days per week. My motivation for workouts was definitely to feel good, but there was definitely some vanity in it – I wanted toned arms, legs, tummy, and the works. I saw the correlation between exercise consistency and muscle definition. There’s no better feeling than feeling great on the inside and looking great on the outside.

During pregnancy: In the beginning of the pregnancy, I was sticking to my 5-6 days/week quota. Around weeks 23-26, as I got a bit larger and started feeling heavier, the workouts came down to mainly 5 days a week. Once I hit my third trimester and was waking up more tired than usual and missing those morning workouts more frequently, I felt so tired by late afternoon that I’d have to skip the day’s workout completely, and I started working out 4-5 days per week. I just listened to my body – I knew if I pushed myself while I was exhausted, I’d overwork myself or worse, injure myself due to improper form.

How My Exercise Routine Has Changed Throughout My Pregnancy

Intensity of workouts

Before pregnancy: Pretty much full throttle. I’m the kind of gal who likes to be out of breath for most of the workout. When I’m in a spin class and the instructor gives a metric range for resistance (ie ’40 to 50′), I’ll go 50, or maybe 51/52. I love to push my limits and challenge my body. If I’m not dripping in sweat by the end of a workout, it was a waste of my time! Unless it’s yoga, of course – that’s more restorative for me.

During pregnancy:  I definitely lowered the intensity. First, the moment I became pregnant, I started lifting 10 pound dumbbells instead of 15s and 20s. Up until about week 25 I was fine with high intensity, but once my belly got larger and I started experiencing back pain and sore hips, I started to lower the intensity and modify my moves. I tried doing 30 minute spin classes instead of 45 minutes. I took longer breaks in between moves and sets during HIIT. Now, at week 31, I get out of breath easily, so it’s hard to keep up a high intensity, so again, listening to my body is important!

How My Exercise Routine Has Changed Throughout My Pregnancy

Time of workouts

Before pregnancy: In January 2017, I made a resolution to become a morning person and I did this by pushing my typically afternoon/early evening workouts into morning workouts, waking up at 6:15am. I was consistently working out at 6:30am (with a 6:15am wakeup call.) In 2016, I was the exact opposite – 90% of my workouts were after 5pm.

During pregnancy: In the first trimester, I was pooped by 2pm, so I knew there was no way I would exercise if it wasn’t first thing in the morning. When I wake up (still to this day) I have the most energy – I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to hop out of bed. Knock on wood, I haven’t had any issues sleeping. So basically, I set the pattern of working out early in the morning. Towards the middle and end of my second trimester, I started building back in 5/6pm workouts, but I found that I wasn’t as consistent as I was with those morning workouts. Now, in my third trimester, I feel SO much bigger and heavier in the afternoons, so if I don’t make the workout in the morning, it likely won’t happen – or if it does, it’s really uncomfortable, so I’ve been trying to make those 6:15am wakeup calls!

How My Exercise Routine Has Changed Throughout My Pregnancy

Duration of workouts

Before pregnancy: My workouts typically lasted 45 minutes to 1 hour. I’d say it was 50% 45 minutes and 50% 1 hour. Like my work days, I am very efficient during my workouts – there’s no checking Instagram in between sets, there’s more squatting or running in place. And on the spin bike, I’m too sweaty and out of breath to do anything else but spin! I always take my before and afters, but during the workout, it’s balls to the wall!

During pregnancy: I have been much more lenient with myself. However, I try to get 45 minute workouts in 80% of the time, and the rest of the time, it’s 30 minutes. Sometimes I’ll just do a 30 minute spin ride and be done or I’ll do a 30 minute HIIT workout and call it a day. I’m more lenient, because I know that my body is simultaneously growing another human, so I try to practice a bit of self-care. When I feel like my workout wasn’t ‘grueling’ enough, I sometimes supplement with extra walking outside that day or something like that.

And that’s about it! If you have any questions, I’m always happy to answer – leave them in the comments!


with love, Ali

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  • Good for you being able to keep up the exercise! I think you are going to breeze through your labor and delivery.
  • I love this article. I'm in week 28 of my third pregnancy and have exercised more in this one than my previous two pregnancies. It's a total game changer!! Love your attitude and honesty in this post :)
  • You look amazing! I love your blog and recipes!! Thanks for sharing.
  • would love to know how your diet has changed while pregnant! Thanks :)
  • Ali - so helpful! I'm just 6 weeks into my first pregnancy and decided to lay off running (I was at 5 miles, 4 days a week, plus daily yoga of some sort) because I am so insanely tired, I've lost the energy to make it through the runs! I figure it's my body telling me to cool it for a while and let this pregnancy settle in! I also exercise in the morning. How did you balance that with morning wooziness? I wouldn't say I have full on morning sickness, but right now I'm pretty adverse to food and so tired by the afternoon that it's a real struggle getting in my usual routine. God bless you and your baby! You're an inspiration! (LOVE my inspiralizer, btw! considering buying a second one, just for the heck of it!)
    • Congrats on your pregnancy! I was lucky and had no morning sickness, so I can't relate - BUT, I'd just try to do some lower impact exercise - no jostling like running or spinning. I'd say just go for nice long walks. Do anything and be kind to yourself right now, it's a lot to expect from yourself!
  • Ali, Got my spiralizer last week and am loving it! My seven year old grandson has been trying to spiralize everything he can get his hands on and eating all the strings such as a pickle, cucumber, apple, etc. It was difficult back in my day to get all the fruits and veggies I needed while working on jet airplanes (I am an Air Force veteran). While I was pregnant back in the 80's I rode my bike along the California aqueduct and took long day hikes with my husband with no ill effects. I agree with you that you have to listen to your body. It would be foolish of anyone to do strenuous exercise when you were not used to it and took a chance on losing the baby. You are a great inspiration! I pray your labor and delivery goes well.
    • Thanks for the note and so happy your family is loving spiralizing!
  • Do you recommend the Peloton Bike?? Looking into getting one!
    • Yes! You can read all about it here:
  • Do you recommend the Peloton Bike?? Looking into getting one!
    • Yes, you can read about it here:
  • i am not pregnant but so loved reading this because it gives me hope for when i do get pregnant! i am such a worry wart but love that you're just listening to your body and still doing something for YOU and in return your baby in the long run! #healthymama
  • Do you make any adjustments during your spin classes now that you're pregnant? I'm trying to listen to my body and the baby, but would be curious if you found any difference in the way your body and belly reacted to some of the moves and especially sprints in spinning. Thanks and good luck in the final stretch! Very helpful post.
  • Good for you! I also stayed very active while I was pregnant. I was going for hikes, doing HIIT, cardio and strength training up until the day before giving birth. I was running around my basement like a crazy person and doing jumping jacks the night before I was being induced in hopes that would help get things moving. It didn't. I did have to stop running around 27 weeks because of similar problems - bladder control and intense pelvic pain. So I just walked a ton! I think me staying active during my pregnancy is the reason why I had such an easy delivery. My water broke and 4 hours later, my baby was born!
  • Hi Ali! When you do the Nike HIIT sessions do you follow them on your phone or on a tv in the gym? Did you have to work up to doing the full body HIIT?
  • Hi! I've been following your blog for years :) I just had a baby 7 months ago and just wanted to pass on a little experience that I kinda wish someone had told me... I was a cross fitter pre-preggo. I stuck with it for a bit but toned down and by the end of pregnancy was doing more body building type lifting and still walking 3-5 miles a day even at 40 weeks. My last gym session was at 39 weeks! Gave birth and unfortunately had a traumatic birth with some extensive damage. I had no idea pelvic floor physical therapy was even a *thing*. I went to PT and around 4 months was beginning to feel pretty normal again and got back into lifting too soon and ended up prolapsing. I totally don't want to write this as a scare tactic but I wish more than anything someone had warned me about the risks of lifting with a compromised pelvic floor. I hope you have a wonderful, easy birth and never think again about this note but, please, just be careful when you get back into lifting after your little one arrives! I think really fit women can feel ok (I did at 4 months!) and assume that they are good to go and this issue is just so NOT talked about that the truth about allowing your pelvic floor to become fully functional again just doesn't happen with women.
    • This was literally my comment. I know people look to Ali for advice and think if she did it I can do it. Just because you did the workouts before you were pregnant does not mean you should do them during or after. Honestly I would recommend every single woman to see a pelvic floor specialist before, during and after pregnancy. You could be doing harm to your pelvic floor and you will not feel this while it’s happening. A dr that specializes in this work will be able to tell you whats appropriate for you personally. Do not simply trust your obgyn, our health system is missing the bar in this department. That being said, there are ways to recover if you already have diastases or pelvic floor dysfunction. Please seek the advice of a professional in this field before starting any workout routine.
  • Hey Ali, I love reading your blog and trying out your recipes! Thank you for sharing! I am pregnant and have a large chest but am having trouble find comfortable sports bars for working out! I remember you posting the company you enjoy wearing but can’t find the post! What was the name again? Thanks so much! Jordana
    • You can find all of this over on Ali's lifestyle blog!! Here's a link:
  • I am so glad i saw your post. I am now 5 weeks pregnant with my third kid. The first two I didn’t workout. Anyways, I have been workout for over a year before I got pregnant with my third. We have pretty much the same workout routine. But now I am afraid that those intense workouts would raise up my body temperature, I read high body temperature will cause birth defects. Did you ever concerned about this during your pregnancy?
  • HI! Which HIIT classes did you take while you were pregnant? Thanks!