Upper Body Baby Blast: Prenatal Fitness

Rotation 3a

Working out while pregnant can sometimes feel like an uncomfortable chore, but maintaining a strong upper body during pregnancy has many benefits. Strengthening the upperback while opening the chest can help to decrease low back pain from the lordosis (sway back) that occurs with weight gain in belly and it can decrease neck tightness by engaging muscles in the mid-back. Get your biceps and triceps ready because you will not only be holding your bundle of joy, you are going to be lugging around diaper bags, car seats, and strollers! I learned this while carrying my pal’s double stroller up and down stairs on our European vacation.

This 10-minute workout will tone your arms and strengthen your back. Half of the moves are done seated so grab an exercise ball or chair and try this arm workout!  The whole workout can be done at home with a pair of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells or a resistance band and takes only about 5–10 minutes. Perform 1–3 sets of 10–15 repetitions of each exercise 3 times a week throughout your pregnancy, with consent from your doctor.

1. Upper Body Rotation

This is great is a great warm up to stretch the low back while engaging the muscles of the chest and biceps to hug the ball.

Start:  Feet are wider than hip distance and parallel. Press hands into either side of stability ball with long arms. Lift ball shoulder height and twist to right side.

Rotation 1a


Movement: Twist from torso to reach ball to left side. Hip points should stay facing forward.

Rotation 2b


2. Rotation & Reach

Start: Continue to use chest and arm muscles to hug ball, with long arms. Reach to right and lift ball above head, twisting through torso and hips. Left heel is lifted.

Rotation 3a

Movement: Reach ball to lower left side, while twisting torso and hips. Right heel lifts. Make sure knees are aligned with hip points and the direction you are twisting.

Repeat: Repeat this exercise, lifting to left side and lowering to right side.




Rotation 4a

3. Wide Arm Reach

This will work the muscles below the shoulder blade helping to release the upper muscles around the neck. Make sure you feel stable while sitting on the stability ball. You can also sit on a chair!

Start: Place hands on a resistance band about 1-2 feet apart and reach arms overhead. Make sure arms are slightly forward of your head.

*Weights can replace the resistance band as a reverse overhead press. Hold weights overhead to begin.

Band Arm Work - Pull Down 1

Movement: Press arms wide while pulling shoulder blades down back and together.

Band Arm Work - Pull Down 2

4. Arm Press

Not only will this move strengthen your upper back, posterior deltoids, and triceps it will counteract tightness in the chest from the added weight of the breast tissue.

Start: Start with hands a fist distance apart on resistance band, palms down, arms extended forward of shoulders. (not pictured)

*Weights can replace the resistance band.

Movement: Stabilize left arm as you press right arm back and gently open the chest. Return right arm forward with control. Repeat 5-15 repetitions on the right arm and then perform the press with left arm while right arm stabilizes movement.

Band Arm Work - Rotation 1

Band Arm Work - Rotation 2b

5. Shoulder Girdle Rotation

This will strengthen the shoulder girdle to prepare you for carrying your bundle of joy.

Start: Hold the resistance band with palms face up, elbows bent at 90°, and arms hugging side waist.

Band Arm Work - Rotator Cuff 1

Movement: Squeeze shoulder blades together to create an external rotation with arms as you pull band apart. Control the movement as you release band and bring arms back forward.

Band Arm Work - Rotator Cuff 2b

6. All 4’s Arm Extension

Start: Come to all 4’s with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Place weight in right hand. Hug your abdominal muscles around baby. (not pictured)

Movement A: Extend the left arm forward, palm faces inward. Perform 5-15 repetitions on each side.

All 4's Arm Extension 1

7. All 4’s Row

Start: Come to all 4’s with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Place weight in right hand. Hug your abdominal muscles around baby. (not pictured)

Movement: Bend elbow at 90° as you pull arm up and back. Keep your shoulder down your back. Perform 5-15 repetitions on each side.

All 4's Row

8. Plank

Start: Come to all 4’s with hands under shoulders and knees under hips.

Movement: Hug your abdominal muscles around baby and extend legs back. To modify this pose bend your knees and come to the tops of your thighs. Remember to keep your hips in line with the rest of your body. Hold for 10-30 seconds, come back to rest on all 4’s or in child’s pose and repeat.

Plank Modified b

9. Push Up

Start: Step back to your Plank position with legs extended or bent for the modification. (See above exercise)

Movement: Turn palms slightly inward. Bend elbows as you lower your chest toward floor. Extend your arms as you press your chest back to plank.

*You can also do push-ups standing

Roll Down 7

10. Table Top with Tricep Dip

Start: Sit on floor and extend legs forward and together. Place palms behind the hips, with fingers facing forward. Bend the knees to modify the pose and place less weight on the core and arms.

Reverse Plank:Table Top 1

Movement A: Press into arms and feet to lift hips. Hamstrings and glutes will help support the movement.

Reverse Plank:Table Top 2

Movement B: If you are comfortable with Table Top add the Tricep Dip. Keeping hips high, bend elbows to lower chest and press into arms to lift body back to table top.

Reverse Plank:Table Top Tricep Press 1


Photos by: Nicholas Borsodi

Special thanks to Gabrielle D’Addario for being our beautiful pregnant model in her 2nd trimester.












  • Heather Rayner

    January 18, 2016 at 7:25 pm Reply

    Hi Christine,
    I am wondering if you have any prenatal yoga DVDs? Thanks.


    • Christine

      July 24, 2016 at 12:19 am Reply

      Not yet, but coming someday soon!

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