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Safe Workout Plans for Women Trying to Conceive

Safe Workout Plans for Women Trying to Conceive

Jackie Vinyard, M.S. Health Sciences | June 14, 2017 | trying to conceive
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Exercise may or may not make wearing a swimsuit enjoyable but exercise certainly is medicine for the body and the mind. Many of us know the benefits of taking prenatal vitamins when we are trying to conceive, but we are not as clear on the benefits of exercise. Exercise has been shown to improve rates of implantation, reduce the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy complications (source). Some of the pregnancy complications that exercise helps to decrease the risk of happening include, gestational diabetes, preclampisa and miscarriage. 

So how much do you need to do to achieve these amazing benefits and what can you do that is safe for pregnancy?  In today’s post we will cover how much exercise is needed for health benefits and give you some sample workout plans. 


How Much to Exercise?

At your preconception visit, talk to your doctor about your plan to exercise to learn more about what is appropriate for you individually and if you are at risk for any complications.

For those who do not exercise regularly and working out more than twice a week seems daunting, start out with a minimum of 2.5 hours a week of moderate intensity exercise. To receive additional benefits of exercise, build up to 5 hours a week of moderate intensity. Note: you can also do 2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, but intense exercise has been correlated with decreased fertility. It may be best to save intense workouts until after you have a baby. 

Read here to learn about the difference between moderate and intense exercise.

If you are overweight, it is recommended to do a minimum of moderate intensity physical activity for 225-300 minutes per week.

Already hit the gym or workout nearly everyday of the week? Keep up the good work! If you are worried about the impact of your exercise regime once you are pregnant please know that you can limit the intensity and still get the benefits that exercise provides.  In general, if you are in good health, you can keep up your exercise regime for the first trimester.  Read here to learn about how one fit mamma changed her workouts through out her pregnancy.  

Every woman should add muscle-strengthening activities that involve all the major muscle groups twice a week.

Once you are pregnant there are specific recommendations you should follow each trimester. Bookmark the article by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy.   


Can too Much Exercise be Harmful?

Yes,  too much exercise can actually prevent women from being able to get pregnant. For the majority of us, too little exercise is the problem- not too much. For those, however, that are athletes or exercise frequently at high intensities, if any of the below bullet points apply to you, you may be exercising too much for your body to support a healthy pregnancy.

Risk factors that exercise may be impeding pregnancy:

If you train intensely and you have any of the below risk factors, your exercise regime may need to be modified in order to get pregnant: 

  • Amenorrhea (not getting a period)
  • Irregular periods
  • High milage
  • High intensity
  • Low Body Weight
  • Low Body Fat
  • Diet deficiencies (esp protein)

Every individual's body is going to respond to certain levels of training in their own unique way. The bodies response to exercise depends on factors such as how much body fat you have in the first place (more body fat may mean you can work out more intensely) as well as how much sleep, water and protein you are getting.

It is not recommended to train for a triathlon or a marathon during this time, but it is important to stay physically active doing activities that feel good to your body. The exercises you select once you are pregnant should be gentle on your joints and not put you at risk for falling. You may alter your regime throughout the pregnancy to more gentle exercises such as walking or swimming.  


Exercise Workout Plans

If you are healthy and deemed fit for exercise, here is a sample of a safe TTC regime:


  • Run/Swim/Bike/Walk: 2-4 times a week
  • Weight Training: 2 times a week
  • Stretching: 7 days a week


Cardiovascular Exercise Plan

Since getting pregnant is on the horizon, it's a good idea to find exercises that are lower impact and have a reduced risk of falling that you enjoy.  Examples include walking, swimming or a stationary bike. That said, many runners do keep up running throughout their pregnancy. Once you are pregnant, stay in tune with your body. If you feel that the weight to too much pressure on your joints, switch to walking, the elliptical trainer, yoga or swimming.


Walking/Elliptical/ Jogging FITT Plan:

  • Frequency:  2-4 times a week
  • Intensity: Moderate
  • Type:
    • 2-minute Intervals: Warm-up for 10 minutes.  Go fast for 2 minutes (but make sure you can still talk), Easy for 1 minute. Repeat 10 times. Cool down with a 5 minute
    • Endurance:  Warm up for 10 minutes. Hold a moderate pace for 20-30 minutes. Easy pace 10 minutes
  • Time: 30-60 minutes


Indoor Cycling:

  • Frequency: 3-4 times a week
  • Intensity:  Moderate
  • Type:
    • Interval:  Warm-up for 10 minutes and then peddle with increased intensity fast for 1 minutes and easy cycle for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Peddle with increased intensity for 3 minutes and easy cycle for 1 minute. Repeat 5 times. Peddle with increased intensity for 5 minutes and easy cycle for 1 minute. Repeat 2 times.  Cool down with a 5 minute easy cycling.
    • Endurance: Warm up for 10 minutes. Moderate pace for 10 minutes. Easy Pace for 2 minutes. Repeat. Cool down 5 minutes easy pace.  
  • Time: 30-60 minutes



Swimming is an exercise that you can maintain throughout your pregnancy and is super friendly on your joints. Once you are pregnant there are great water workout classes with a coach on deck. Don’t know how to swim but interested? This is a great time to learn. If you aren’t a strong swimmer or need to learn how to swim, check with your local recreation center or YMCA for adult lessons.

  • Frequency: 2-3 times per week
  • Intensity: Moderate to Vigorous
  • Time: 30-60 minutes
  • Type: See below

Swimming Key:

  • 25 yards is one length of the pool, so 50 yards is down and back
  • 25 x 4 with 10 second rest = do one length of the pool and rest 10 seconds. Repeat 3 more times.
  • Kick = just kicking with your legs. You can kick on your back or use a kickboard.
  • Build= start slower and end faster
  • Non-free= breaststroke or backstroke
  • Odds= lap 1, 3, 5, etc
  • Even= lap 2, 4, 6, etc



  • Distance: 1200 total
  • Time: Approximately 30-50 minutes


  • 50 freestyle nice and slow
  • 25 x 2 kick (on back)  with 10 seconds rest
  • 50 freestyle nice & slow
  • 25 x 4 kick (either on back or with kickboard)

Total: 250 yards

Main Set:

  • 75 x 4 (25 kick/50 swim)
  • 50 x 6 (first 50  build / second 50 moderate pace / third 50 Easy) x 2
  • 100 Easy
  • 4x25  odds freestyle / even non-free

Total: 800

Cool Down

  • 50 Non-Free
  • 150 Easy


Moderate-Vigorous (Advanced)


  • 200 easy
  • 75x4 kick, drill, swim
  • 100x2 75 build 20 easy
  • 50 Kick

Total: 750

Main Set:

  • 400 moderate pace
  • 25x4 fast with 10s rest
  • 300 moderate pace
  • 25x4 fast with 10s rest
  • 200 moderate pace
  • 25x4 fast with 10s rest
  • 100 easy
  • 75x4 (50 drill | Swim)
  • 50x2 kick

Total: 1700  

Cool down:

  • 50 Non-Free
  • 200 Easy

Total: 2650 yards or meters


Strength Training:

Do 2-3 reps for every major muscle group with 10-15 reps.  Building the strength and endurance of your muscles will help your body adapt to pregnancy changes, maintain your posture and promote stability. Note: if you are not familiar with any of the below exercises, please ask an experienced trainer or physical therapist to show you how to do these properly.

  • Frequency: 2 times per week
  • Intensity: Moderate
  • Time: 30-60 minutes
  • Type: See below


  • Shoulders: Shoulder press
  • Chest: Wall push ups or dumbbell chest press (do on fitball for more of a challenge)
  • Biceps: Stand on one leg and alternate biceps curls
  • Triceps: Skip chair triceps unless you have done them with a professional trainer (doing these wrong can lead to shoulder damage). Use a dumbbell to do tricep extension one arm at a time
  • Legs: Alternate lunges holding dumbbells (try doing lunges in all directions - front, side, at an angle and back) 
  • Inner thighs: Bridge with ball between knees
  • Glutes: Squats are wonderful for the bum. Try one-legged squats for an extra challenge.
  • Hamstrings: One legged deadlift
  • Core: Plank and side bridge (hold 15-30 seconds each set)* Replace with this abdominal set once you are pregnant here or simply get your core strength from yoga exercises. 



Yoga and pilates are fantastic ways to fit in stretching. Once you are pregnant, yoga specifically for pregnant women or group swim classes for pregnant women are fun ways to fit in a work out and meet other soon to be mom's. If you don’t want to take a class or it’s hard to find time during your work schedule, there are great online yoga classes and DVDs.

Take time to stretch each day, even if it is just for 5-10 minutes. Here is a great blog post with 8 stretches to do each day.


Hope you enjoy the workouts! We would love to hear from you. Follow us on social media and let us know what other topics you would like for us to over. 

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