Training while Pregnant / by chelsie burkhart

Being pregnant is hard work. This is my first pregnancy and I honestly had no idea what to expect. I of course have friends and family who have all gone through it and  from general knowledge we all know how pregnancy works BUT you’ll never really know until you go through it yourself #TRUE!?

Everybody's experience is slightly different which is why there really is no cookie cutter plan out there. So, I’m going to go through my experience of trying to hit the gym during pregnancy. First however, I need to roll back to what I was doing BEFORE pregnancy.


My body literally right before pregnancy! To be 100% honest, I had found total balance the year prior to getting pregnant. Coming off of a few years of competing in BB, the struggle to accept a body other than shredded to the seams can be a challenge. I ate what I wanted (still mostly clean food), exercised how I wanted, and didn’t obsess over anything. I felt free from constantly tracking macros in my head! 

My general training regime:  


20 min low intensity incline walking

3 rounds of 9 exercises 8-20 reps

I sat between 94-97lbs  


Favorite exercises: 

Lower Body: Squats (all variations), lunges, 3 way lunge, ball leg curls, curtsy back lunge, glute bridges, TKEs, clam shells, single leg squat, RDL, Single RDLs, step ups.

Upper Body: DB press, Lateral raises, around the worlds, triceps rope ext, triceps dips, incline push ups (for preggo), lat pull downs, band row, BOR, incline chest press.  


So what about during pregnancy!? 

This isn’t everyone’s experience but I feel like I’ve had a pretty easy pregnancy. The hardest thing I got hit with was fatigue. I had a little nausea in my first trimester and a little into my second but what really kicked my butt was being full blown exhausted! It was really hard for me to do anything other than work, eat, sleep, and repeat. Some days I would get up, eat a bowl of pasta (oh I craved SO many carbs) and go back to bed. 

I feel like my body was telling me, ugh Chels, your body needs more fuel. You’re making a baby!! Even though they say your body only really needs about 300 more calories a day (again such a cookie cutter rule) I feel like my body truly needed more. Probably because I’m used to eating X amount of food and it probably wasn’t enough to help support growing a baby and feel energized.  

First Trimester Training

On the days I felt more energized I would go to the gym and do my 20 minutes of low intensity cardio and sometimes that would be all that I did. Other times I would add a few exercises in there but for the most part this whole trimester wiped my body out. 


It was hard seeing the scale go up and not be as active. It honestly gave me a little bit of anxiety to watch my body transform, especially because I craved a lot of foods I wasn’t used to eating (Pasta, pizza burgers, ect, general tsos) I only ate those things in moderation but they were still somewhat foreign to my body. 


Second Trimester


This is the trimester that most people get their energy back! I was one of those lucky few. My exhaustion and nausea subsided a few weeks into the second trimester. Luckily I was able to get to the gym more often during the first few weeks. Something that I had started to notice though was I was getting a lot of round ligament pain in my lower right side every time I would do any type of cardio. I tried doing different intensities and nothing seemed to subside the pain so I cut it off all together. 

If I wanted to walk, I would take our golden retriever Theo on a 15 minute walk to at least mentally feel like I did anything!  



1-2 days/week

6-9 exercises 8-12-20 reps  

Favorite exercises: 

Lower Body: sumo goblet squat, ball leg curl, TKE, step ups, single leg RDL, RDL, single leg squat, lateral lunge, glute bridge. 

Upper Body: band pull aparts, band row, shoulder press, lateral raise 3 way, tricep dip, elevated push ups, lat pull down, chest press (until mid second trimester)

Austin helped me quite a bit during this trimester when I did have time to train. I traveled A LOT during this trimester so days at the gym from 18-28 weeks was few and far between. Sometimes I would do a Kettlebell and band circuit at home between editing sessions. If I did go to the gym, Austin would write me a workout so I didn’t have to think about it!


My cravings pretty much subsided during this phase. I craved a lot of fresh foods and salads. So, even though I wasn’t able to train as much I tried to make healthy choices now that my usual pallet was back.  


3rd trimester


My third trimester has actually been pretty good. I’ve honestly trained the most in this trimester! Mostly because I’ve actually been home and work slows down as winter approaches. Although I’ve never seen such a high number on the scale I know that it must be what my body needs to grow a little human inside! Plus, the third trimester requires the most growth! The baby can grow up to an OZ/day

Other than the holidays my diet has stayed pretty consistent and I’ve been training a couple days a week. I know, it’s not a lot! But,it’s better than nothing! My intensity is the lowest of all trimesters because my body can only handle so much. If I go hard training,my body maxes out the next day and wants to hibernate. So, I’ve really took it easy so I can maintain balanced energy levels throughout the day. 


2-3x week

6 exersises, 3 sets each 

10-20 reps

Upper body: BOR, band row, seated lateral raises, seated shoulder press, pull aparts, band shoulder press, tricep rope, tricep dip. 

Lower body: Sumo KB squats, single RDL, band lateral lunge, single leg squat, band glute push aparts, walking lunges, hip addiction. 


My diet has been pretty consistent with my second trimester. I eat a lot of rice, potatoes, chicken, lean turkey, lean beef, and veggies!  oh, and also a few breadsticks here and there with dinner! 🤪

2nd trimester vs 3rd


I’ve gained about 25-27 lbs give or take all together. Hopefully after little Joie arrives we can get her on a schedule and get back to training normalcy. It’s pretty rough seeing no definition anywhere in my body BUT I (and Austin)  Constantly remind myself that I’ve been pretty healthy and as long as I’ve been healthy, Joie should be healthy! Baby’s health comes first! Going to extremities to make your body super duper lean during this phase of life is probably not safe! 

Take aways:

Everybody is different! Listen to your body when training! Are you getting extremely exhausted after working out? If so, do less intensity next time! Are you eating enough or indulging too much? I truly believe your body tells you what it needs. Listen to your bodies cues! 

Dont overdo yourself. You are creating a human inside of you and that is a huge responsibility and takes a lot of energy! If you’re used to constantly training and feel like a failure because your capacity isn’t as high, DONT SWEAT IT! If you do less more often you may find yourself in a balanced state!  

Don’t feel defeated when you see other pregnant women running half marathons and doing olympic derivative training. Odds are, those mommas have that as their typical routine and have been doing that type of training for a while. I stuck to things my body is USED to doing. Could I have ran? Probably! But honestly I’m not used to running so why would I start when I was pregnant? Plus, that round ligament pain was not fun for me! I kept my workouts simple and similar to what I did pre-pregnancy! Had I added more cardio in my routine I may be in a little better shape, but I’m trying not to sweat about it too much! 

Dont have time? Buy a Kettlebell and some bands! You can create a 15 min workout at home. Easy Peazy!

For those of you that struggle with body image throughout pregnancy I’m right there with you! But hang in there, the most important thing is you’re being healthy for you AND your baby! Don’t be too hard on yourself 💛