Strict Press for Pregnancy

These options are not mandatory; you may find you move through the progression sooner or later. Some moms may still be strict pressing the bar with feet on the ground in the third trimester, and some move to the seated 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: Strict 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. Mama can use a barbell or dumbbells; it’s her personal preference.

2nd Trimester: Standing Dumbbell Strict Press. We recommend transitioning to dumbbells as the belly grows, so that mama doesn’t have to move out of the way of the bar as she presses up. The lean back to move the head out of the can be uncomfortable with the extra weight, so transitioning to dumbbells is a great option.

3rd Trimester: Seated Strict Press. As the belly grows and the center of gravity shifts forward, we have found that it’s harder for our prenatal clients to focus on the press without arching in their back or thrusting their ribs. Moving to a seated position helps to maintain a neutral spine, and allows mama to focus on the press. Option to switch to a Single Arm Strict Press will help increase the focus on each arm.

There is also the option to incorporate a landmine Strict Press that decreases the range of motion, and makes the press easier to accomplish without compensation.

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

Gina Conley