Bench Press Options for Pregnancy

Bench Press Prenatal Trimester Options

  Throughout pregnancy, movements may physically look different but we can achieve the same or similar sensation regardless of how a movement may look.

How a movement FEELS is more important than how it looks. Sensation over the shape. But the mother must in attuned to her PREGNANT body, not her pre-pregnancy body; what felt okay or good in her pre-pregnancy body may not support what actually feels good in her pregnant body.

These options are not mandatory; you may find you move through the progression sooner or later. Some moms may still be bench pressing the bar with feet on the ground in the third trimester, and some move to incline dumbbell press during the first trimester.

These options are suggestions based on what we have seen with our clients over our time as prenatal trainers.

1st Trimester: Bench Press looks almost the same, if not the same, as pre-pregnancy. Weight is lighter (70% is recommended) but otherwise the movement looks the same.

2nd Trimester: Dumbbell or Barbell Bench Press with Feet Up. there’s a lot of growth happening in this trimester! Belly may being to show (sooner in second pregnancies), and as belly begins to show the curve in the lumbar spine tends to increase. We recommend bringing the feet up onto the bench to help alleviate an excessive curvature of the low back. Option to use either the barbell or dumbbells based on personal preference and comfort.

3rd Trimester: Inclined Dumbbell Press. Many moms prefer to move to an inclined position during the third trimester. We recommend using dumbbells over a barbell in the incline press.

Laying flat on your back is fine during pregnancy as long as it’s not for prolonged periods of time and you don’t have any contraindications (lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision). If you have any of those symptoms, roll off your back slowly and rest on your left side or in seated.


Interested in prenatal strength & conditioning programming? Check it out here!


Gina Conley